Sunday, May 5, 2013

Yo Stigma...

  Good morning! That’s right, I didn’t drop off the face of the Earth, just the face of the interwebs for a few days. But guess what? I’m baaaaack!
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  Actually, I spent the last few days wrestling some of my demons to the ground and making the little bastards cry, “UNCLE!” Then…well, I guess I needed to make some peace with my past. Or if not peace, then at least call a truce.
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  To be honest, I wasn’t even sure I was going to share this part of the cluster-muck that is my life with you, but then…what the hairy-monkey HAVEN’T I shared? Besides, May is, among a TON of other things, Mental Health Awareness Month.
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  Last week I received the wonderful (that’s a sarcastic wonderful, by the way) results of the fun (more sarcasm) tests I took to determine what exactly they’re working with, mental illness wise. Remember…the last time I was evaluated was 19 years ago. And MY! How things have changed!

AWESOMELY enough, my Therapist was excited
about using my art to help her understand how I'm feeling.
This one was meant to explain how the panic affects me.
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  I’ll give you the short-form of it all. I now carry a diagnosis of Panic Disorder with moderate Agoraphobia. Also Dysthymia with Borderline traits. As it turns out, I’m NOT Bipolar after all.
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  I finally have a name to give to the nasty critter wreaking havoc in my life, which is usually the big thing they need in all the exorcism movies before they can cast the mud-sucker out, right? Its name? Panic Disorder. Moderate Agoraphobia. (Which I never in a million years would have thought to call it!)
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  My Therapist and I have settled on a course of medication to control the symptoms enough that I can learn new ways of dealing with it. (My goal is to eventually ditch the meds when I have learned how to bend the carpet-muncher to my will.) And yes, I’m both scared (DUH!) and excited to get on with this adventure.
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  As for the rest of the diagnosis, in the last few days I have had some LONG talks with friends who have known me for-ev-er, a friend who assured me that “labels” are necessary evils so they can determine how to approach treatment, and a friend who urged me to question this diagnosis the way I would a medical one…fully armed with knowledge and full of questions.
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  After I went back and checked my notes (because I make them about everything) the one fact that differentiated Bipolar and Borderline for my Therapist was the frequency of my mood swings. Yes, there are days it’s like the old PMS joke, “Next mood swing, five minutes!”
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  Of COURSE I have been all over the internets, scouring for information. Which I was distinctly NOT digging. So I decided to make myself feel a bit better I’d click on the whole “Celebreties Who Suffer From The Same Illness” link. Actually, I clicked on three different ones and you know what? I got the same mother-knuckling answer…”There are no celebrities who have stepped forward to admit to a diagnosis of Borderline Personality Disorder probably owing to the stigma that surrounds this diagnosis.”
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  First I got even more bummed out. Then I slept a while. Then The Girl weaseled out of me what was eating at me. And then? She LAUGHED!!!
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“Mom, are we supposed to be surprised? We’ve all known forever that you’re crazy. It’s not like anything is any different because it’s called something else.” (This is one of the MANY reasons my family ROCKS! They always know just what to say to make me feel better…or at least get me laughing.)
My first experiment with chalk...
Many of us, whether physically or mentally ill,
do our best to shield our families from the full extent of our pain...
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  Just as a side note, I found it monstrously odd that one word…one simple little word, would take me almost a week to wrap my head around and somehow alter the way I view myself. I mean, I’ve spent more than ¾’s of my life figuring out how to work around it and collecting tools to deal with it, no matter what it’s called.
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  I momentarily considered never bringing the Borderline thing up, seeing as I've yet to find anything positive or pleasant written about it. Which is EXACTLY WHY I decided to write about it. Because a very, very dear friend was amazing enough to point out (again, since I’m kinda hard-headed that way) that I have no reason to be ashamed of something that isn’t my fault…I’m simply hardwired a little different.
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  So, in honor of Mental Health Awareness Month and to honor my new diagnosis, I’d like to say…
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Dear Stigma,
  Bite my catfish-belly-white ass, you soul-sucking, pointless piece of shame!
Sincerely,
Chris

PS In  honor of Mental Health Month, the always amazing Chato B Stewart, winner of the WEGO Hilarious Health Activist 2013 Award, is doing a Cartoon-A-Thon of Mental Health Heros, one a day for the entire month! It is TOTALLY worth taking the time to check them out.

16 comments:

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    1. Thanks Suzanne! It sucks to have to adress this part of the whole rodeo, but it's the best thing I can do to help myself feel my best right now. And it SUCKS that those of us who have mental glitches feel...embarrassed or ashamed.
      Thanks for being there for me Lady! *hugs*

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  2. Echo what EmeriLizzie said. So glad you have a supportive family- boy that makes a difference! And very glad you have a diagnosis that fits. I'm sure there's a bit of "ahhhh ha" in that. All the best to you my writing friend.

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    1. Thanks Julie! I would be totally lost without my famliy!
      And you're right. There was an "Ah ha!" moment, hen the "Oh my..." moment and now? I think I'm back to the "Hellz yeah!" and ready to feel at home in my own skin again.
      And I can't even tell you how much your support means! *hugs*

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  3. Chris, number one, I so admire your sincerity and raw honesty. It is brave and encouraging to others who may suffer from mental illness. Number 2 - my hubs has suffered with depression as long as I've know him, it's under control with meds. Number 3 - a very dear friend has OCD, it's under control with meds. I think mental illness is more common than we realize. Sending lots of love your way and I hope you are feeling loved and happy!

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    1. The statisic I read today said one in four people have some form of mental illness. Staggering if you think about it!
      I admire people who find the courage to get help so they can live the fullest life possible. People like your hubby and friend are the ones who gave me he strength to go talk to someone. So, please tell him I said thank you! *grin*

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  4. A) Love your artwork. B) I am familiar with BPD due to a nasty spell my daughter went through a few years back. I thought we were all doomed initially (not just because of that possibility, but many others surrounding the situation) and to my surprise, it has resolved itself over time with treatment, meds (for a short time), and lots of love and prayer. We could have a very long conversation about that. C) Your daughter is right. You are no different now because you have a label attached - you are the same... just more enlightened and you now have a clearer view of the beast you battle, which is an advantage. You now know where to aim your own arrows in this battle. Many people with Lyme are diagnosed with panic disorder and depression (among other things) and I know just where they are coming from. It helped so much just to know what I was (and am) dealing with. Knowledge is power, my friend. Use it to your advantage and I say again, don't stay in it. Figure out how to claw your way out of it and beat it. Be brave. Battle strong. Wear your armor daily. Love and hugs!

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    1. Beautifully said! I know we are gonna have a blast when we meet!
      And you're right...My plan is to use the medz short term while I learn how to control this without it. If I need them a little longer, I'll cross that bridge when I come to it.
      I'm glad your daughter is doing better. Not a monkey I'd wish on anyones back!
      And I forget the percentage of people with chronic illnesses that suffer from anxiety. Sometthing about all the focus on your health and the details puts the brain into overdrive...
      And don't worry, you know me. I'll come out kickin and screaming! And laughing. Promise!

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  5. Chris I'm so proud of you for coming forth with this, and so happy your diagnosis has been changed. Now maybe you can get on the proper meds and feel a little better anyway. We'll settle for small baby steps. Half the battle of conquering something is to admit you have it in the first place. There is nothing wrong with admitting you have a mental health problem - you are to be admired for admitting it. Keep going girl. Yes you are very talented with art. It's on the dark side, but it explains how you feel - and that's on the dark side. Hang in there. Hugs,

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    1. Thank you Mary and I porimise, the next artwork I share won't be so dark.
      I'm like most people and don't like to discuss it, but on the other hand, I hate having to feel like I wanna hide it. So, I figure the only way things will change is to talk openly about it. *grin*
      And you're right, I do feel better knowing the real score. *hugs*

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  6. my dear woman, you help countless souls just by speaking your truth. letting go of the past and moving forward will be hard and sometimes it will seem impossible - don't be afraid the wind is blowing - embrace it. xxxx

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    1. Thank you Bev! I don't feel very helpful, but I hope you're right.
      I've kinda taken an odd 12 step prograp approach to my past. Some things I need to try to let go of because what's done is done. (WAY easier said than done.) Some things, I need to find a way to make right. I refuse to use any illness as an excuse. I guess I figure that making myself take resposibility for crap I've done and stunts I've pulled is the best thing I can do for myself and the people I hurt with my bad behavior, whatever the cause was.
      So...I'm slowly doin that piece of fun. *grin* Even if it only involves telling them they were rightt and I was way outta line.

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  7. You are lucky to have so many friends, one side effect of my own mental illness is that other than my family I haven't anyone. I am glad you reached out, I was never able to.

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    1. Don't be fooled Cheryl, one of the horrible side effecs of me is I tend to push people in my life away. FAR away! I am lousey with a capital SUCK at in person relationships. I'm working hard on it, but I'm really bad about it.
      On-line is so different...I don't think it's the anonymity factor because I'm open and honest about myself. I think it's more the physical proxcimity...I'm in my safe bubble so I don't get nervous and start behaving like an ass.
      I used to make friends easily and can't even tell when or why it changed. But, like I said, I'm working hard on it. *grin* And I figured it was more than coincidence that you left a comment and I had to look it up to see whay Dysthymia was and then BAM! I'm diagnosed with it.
      So, thank you for leaving the comment and clearing the way for me to reach out. *hugs*

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  8. I'm glad you have your family, too! Ditto to all of the love and support and warm fuzzies above! Labels are necessary evils, certainly, but they need not define us. We define them. Keep pushing on, you magnificent lady, you!

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    1. Thanks Kate! Hubby and I had a long discussion about that exact topic last night. I refuse to be defined by any diagnoses and/or labels.
      Sometimes it just takes a minute to remind myself that no matter what a Doc may see me as, I'm still me and how I choose to work around those glitches is my choice. *hugs*

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