On Finding My Voice
This video should be seen by every parent whose child gets a diagnosis.
I was 14 when I was first diagnosed with Anorexia Nervosa and Major Depressive Disorder. But instead of appropriate treatment and proper differential diagnosis, I spent the next 35 years being rediagnosed with the “diagnosis du jour.”
I have been labelled, as having among other things, Multiple Personality Disorder, Borderline Personality Disorder, Schizophreniform Disorder, Dysthmia, and Bipolar II Disorder, finally culminating in a psychiatrist deciding I had full blown Bipolar I (totally negating the fact that I had spent 35 years being given off label seizure drugs for my bulimia, enough topiramate to make anyone delusional and incomprehensible, not to mention the differential diagnosis for Bipolar I precludes ANY mania in the family history, of which there is none in mine and a childhood diagnosis with NO paranoid or psychosis prior to age 18, which was clearly documented.)
I continued to refute the doctors diagnoses and my friends went on to become lawyers and doctors, experts in their fields, while I, the Valedictorian of my high school graduating class, had no where to turn but to embrace my diagnoses and the assumption that I was broken beyond healing.
I was blessed with a wretched marriage that ended in me becoming delusional and psychotic from literally two years of sleep deprivation due to stress and depression. A friend in my new home town recommended a psychiatrist who specialized in sleep and mood disorders. After a careful differential diagnosis by his therapist, he confirmed that I had PTSD and major depressive disorder, and that all my other symptomatology could be related to these two diagnoses.
The application of Ocaam’s Razor has saved my life. The simplest explanation is often the right one. I was sexually abused as a child, something I hesitated to speak about until I was in my twenties, and I was right, because the mental health field does not know how to treat people with abuse histories who only get worse with talk therapy. For some of us, the road to the future lies in leaving the past with the dead.
I am divorced and working on my depression on a daily basis. The doctors who told me I was “non compliant” with therapy because I did not want to talk about my experiences were WRONG and did me a terrible injustice of stigmatizing me and putting me in their diagnostic boxes while sending their children to Ivy League institutions on the fees they got from “treating an incurable woman, the sickest they had ever seen.”
I am far from incurable, but it is going to take me a long time to shrug off the insidious labels with which the mental health profession has labelled me. From the age of 14, I studied psychiatry because the still small voice in my head told me I was not like the other people who had been given the diagnoses I was being given. I left behind my love of writing and music and chemistry because I was so determined to find out why I was having so much trouble getting appropriate treatment.
I am forever grateful to my friends and family for not giving up on me, and this post to dedicated to Anne Gnassi Bauman, MD, my high school friend and hero, who sent me this link … and who never gave up on me when I retreated behind a wall of diagnoses and disappeared for decades from my friends and family.
Mental illness is worse than stigmatized in this society, it it pathologized beyond the point of reason. Everyone has their “stuff, ” and yes, major depression and PTSD are very real, very difficult issues to address. But they are not a death sentence, no more so than diabetes or any other chronic illness.
One must be willing to find hope and gratitude where one can, and to ask for help, and to TAKE it, and to do the hard work you must do to overcome the challenges that come to one on a daily basis. G-d bless my friends and family for believing that there was a “me” inside all those specious labels, and I am not denigrating those folks who are legitimately suffering from these life threatening conditions. I’m just saying that for me, the labels did not pertain, and I am proud that I have outlived their deleterious effect on my life.
Life can go on, one must just be prepared to deal. Bring it on!