Post assessment thoughts

These are mostly just ramblings after my psychiatric assessment, because I haven’t shared this with anyone yet, and there have been many thoughts.

I’m going to call the psychiatric nurse who assessed me JS.
For a while now, my life will be split in Pre and Post-JS. eras.
“My word, that is momentous! Did just the one meeting have such a profound effect on you?”

You would wonder that if you hadn’t been following this blog religiously since its inception, back in who knows when, through its many transitions, transformations, since when it was a livejournal. You would wonder that if you didn’t know me.

You would also wonder that if you were unaware of the kind mental anguish and pain that clenches your soul, that you can live with every day, because you don’t know why you are the way you are.

JS went beyond the allotted time, bless his heart.

His conclusion was that I didn’t suffer from Bipolar Disorder, nor from Borderline Personality Disorder. He confirmed the Anxiety by all means and the Depression (although I am certainly not depressed at the moment), and could see how so much of my behaviour would easily be considered symptoms of BPD (though he ruled out the Bipolar completely, apparently the periods did not last long enough and my apathy is not enough etc.).
He also said that the stuff that has happened to me could easily be conducive to trauma and therefore be a basis for triggering those disorders, but he does not believe that they did. Some of the examples sounded odd to me: “So, if you had BPD, you wouldn’t be saying “Ok, bye!” to me right now, you would be desperately asking me not to let you go.”
From what I have read there are people diagnosed with BPD who are not as extreme as that, in fact they seem to be less emotionally clingy than I have been in some friendships. I mean, my suicide attempt was triggered by a friend not wanting to be phoned at 3 am in the morning from London when she lived in Geneva and had exams the next day and basically just getting on with her life. Talk about unreasonable.

But I think the difference is consequence.

Looking at your life, he said, your responses and your emotional state are perfectly understandable. Your childhood will understandably bring out in you this and that. But you have also had a lot of fun!

The implication was that such an unusual upbringing gave me new better tools, as well as greater challenges. I think this was the crux, the revelation, the shift in my own understanding of myself.

He was a little rushed by now, we had exceeded the allotted time, and I realised on my way out there was someone there who was probably waiting to see him.

He said he would consult with the referrer, he said I should look into DBT because I am clearly capable of making all the conclusions that CBT or other methods of counselling can help you come to myself, he finally said “Please do that counselling course you were considering, it would be helpful for you to keep stepping out and looking at yourself from the outside and you’d clearly good do it well“, but as far as he was concerned I was “quite normal” (I may use that as my tag phrase now). He confirmed what others have said to me before: you’re the best counsellor you could get.

There are so many thoughts and implications in the things we talked about that I will be going through them in time.

He also said something else that was important.

When talking about my ex husband and saying that is why I started looking into mental illness more and then Bipolar Disorder specifically he asked me “has he been diagnosed now?“. I told him actually his mother said he had been diagnosed and was receiving meds and treatment but as I had made a rule of wanting to hear about him as little as possible or preferably not at all I wasn’t, come to think of it, 100% sure with what. JS took off his glasses to look at me very seriously and said “Bipolar Disorder does NOT make you violent and abusive. He may also be bipolar and by all means it can in some cases make you feel like you might want to be violent but his being violent and abusive was a CHOICE“. He took me aback, the way he said it. I said “Oh“. My brain works fast, I told him: “I did use to think that he used alcohol as an excuse to then be entitled to do whatever he wanted and then justify it with that“. He said “Yes.” So I said “So I don’t need to feel sorry for him“. And he put his specs back on and went back to his papers.

Summing it up, in my post-JS era, a lot hasn’t changed, and everything has changed.

What I believe that has happened to me is that a lot of situations that would have traumatised someone else more severely were handled better, were assimilated by me, because my outlook on life was so much “larger”. I remember the shock of my classmates when I would tell them how I grew up in big, empty flats and houses. They were Italian classmates and for them this absence of the mother was inconceivable. I didn’t even think of that as an issue at the time. I used to think wow, what would you say if I told you about all sorts of other stuff!

Having nobody to teach me how to love and relate made it a little more difficult for me to manage my own emotions and knowing what the limits are. My self-assurance and self-confidence in the face of rejection were nil. On the other hand, I did not have the cultural and societal bias that would make me feel that I didn’t have something other children had, that I was missing out. I really was happy when I got to Peru and had a dog and we would go out roaming alone together, in the fields and in the city. I really did feel that that was my element. As an adult, I really don’t need other people. But if I find one I can relate to and really like, I really really like them and hate if they stop liking me.

So now, I have to regain all those bits of me I used to feel ok with, and just because of a lifetime of being told they were not ok, have been trying to change, understand, come to terms with. Actually, it turns out that it was fine the way it was. It is society that dictated that any of my behaviours were excessive, abnormal, shocking, reprehensible, what have you.

In conclusion, for now, my basic and core belief towers now even more strongly than ever. It is ok to be different, in fact, it can be an asset if you don’t let other people make you feel wrong about it. AND everybody deserves love. Love is either way. It can be mutual, it can be coming out of you, or it could be coming to you. You don’t always have a choice, unfortunately, on whether you share mutual love with someone, and sometimes it may feel like nobody loves you. Sometimes it is truly the case, but that is only temporary: there will always be someone capable of loving you, you have to be out there to receive it, open to receive it. But, if all else fails, what will never fail you is your ability to love. As long as love is flowing somewhere, even if it’s from you to others, love is flowing and will keep you going.

I think that is why I was so loving in the midst of so much isolation and social battering for so long: you do need love, it just doesn’t need to be towards you. It is just as valid if it’s going from me to you. The more aware of it you are, the more it works, methinks. It sets things right. If you love a few others, it will be easier to learn to love yourself, and that is just as valid.

Well this has officially become a confused ramble and there is much to do in the house so I will leave it here to decompress.

I do feel this is yet another new beginning for me, and I look forward to seeing where it will take me.

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27 thoughts on “Post assessment thoughts

  1. “But, if all else fails, what will never fail you is your ability to love.”

    Love this.

    Good luck going forward. I saw a psych nurse earlier this year after my doc recommended I try again, as she thought I had a “milder bipolar.” The nurse didn’t think I had so much as a mood disorder, despite my moods going from one extreme to the next in a day. Apparently “only artists” have bipolar–writers need not apply 😉 He did ultimately prescribe a mood stabilizer though. I saw a psychiatrist a couple weeks later who thought bipolar 2 was a no-brainer (and added another mood stabilizer). So the label didn’t matter so much as getting on the right meds. Or going in the right direction with meds, at least.

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    1. Interesting, yes. As time passes bits and bobs he said keep coming back and kind of jarring in my ears. Like he missed some stuff, or made some quick assumptions, didn’t ask a lot of other stuff… I’ll persevere like this for now and do the stuff that is probably best done without a diagnosis. I just hope I can get it done before I start going into brain damage or something. While I’m still serene, it’ll be fine for now. But info like this and the others is precious, thank you x

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  2. I’ve found that any progress we can make is better than no progress. Sometimes I get so caught up in the finality and doom of my diagnosis that I miss opportunities when things are good to make much needed progress. So, if I learned a very important thing from your post is that we have to keep moving and perhaps focus less on the technical. I’m inspired by you.

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  3. Many others have already echoed what I was going to say about bi-polar disorder, so I will not belabor the point. More importantly – are your comfortable with the diagnosis? If so then all good. If not then nothing wrong with getting a second opinion.

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    1. I am not sure. I mean: I feel there is a reason for this, and the reason is not necessarily that the diagnosis is right. There have been other times in my life where had I known, there were possibilities of help and instead I had to rely on my unsteady wits alone. This may be one of them.

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  4. I am not a stereotypically clingy person and yet I’m pretty sure I have BPD, as diagnosed. The issue I find with many of these professionals is how if we don’t fit the general idea, we do not have the disorder. Our personality, circumstances, and history shape how any condition manifests. For example, I don’t want people to leave me, but I would never ever beg them not to. I have too much pride for that. So it’s not just as easy to diagnose as crossing off a checklist. Though I do hope to everything he was right and you have none of these things.

    I also believe our past shapes a lot of our instability, without necessarily meaning we have a mental disorder. There’s that too.

    Again, I’m hoping he is right. I wish this on nobody.

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    1. Indeed, I get you completely, and had I been talking to him a year ago in Cambridge his whole assessment might have been very different. It is true I have never felt better, but as I told him I am worried this might change, as it always has done: my first months anywhere have always been rosy. I am going to use this to take a few steps forward. At least, if things do get unhinged again, they should be speedier in seeing me.

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  5. Oh it wasn’t confusing at all. Very enlightening actually!! Yes there seems a lot to think about and not think about. You hit the nail on the head when you said it was society wanting to label your behavior for being you. 🙂 May I reblog this?

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  6. Yes, a big yes on love… maybe the Beatles had it right, “the love you take is equal to the love you make”. And yes, through it all to learn to love yourself. Love flows in so many directions and situations. Just be there to receive it and give it. Amen, Ohm, Namaste!

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  7. Sorry to preach doom, but bipolar can cycle within a day. Several times a day even – mine does. I think he’s oversimplified the way bpd presents. Hopefully he’s right though, hopefully I’m being too pedantic. After all, the measure of the difference between a mood and disorder, is suffering.

    Sorry…….

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    1. No, don’t be! I thought exactly the same. I think there were two factors: a) the NHS is underfunded for mental health so they want to get people who are fairly functional out of their way and b) I am indeed in a particularly especially wonderfully serene time of my life, and so the little table of naughts and 1s I had to tick I didn’t tick high enough, and so on.
      Life is so bloody short that I have to go with what life gives me, and at this moment it is telling me carry on with my original plan, which is defiance. I guess that’s always been my plan :). It’s a complex thing in my head, but the gist is: hopefully I won’t have to prove you wrong, Mr JS (especially as he kept on pointing out he was NOT a psychiatrist), and he doesn’t know half of what my life has been and what I’ve done, so I’m not sure how that worked. But what it means to me is there are decisions I must make without help. There is still more I must do and potentially fuck up enormously) without the help. It’s another challenge and I was exhausted but I do very much feel oddly refreshed after that chat. There were certain crucial points that meant I still have to use my last few brain cells to go the distance alone. I don’t know if any of this makes sense, it is still taking form in my own mind xx

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      1. It makes plenty sense, William. You actually always do, though I know you feel otherwise. As usual, I do not understand the fucking N fucking H fucking S. Coupla things – you probably know that bipolar takes an average of 10yrs to diagnose and it is an axis 1 disorder, which means in SA (and apparently we tend to follow the British model of psychiatry, so who knows) that bipolar requires a psychiatrist and/or clinical psychologist. Not a fecking psych nurse, and I generally adore psych nurses for stuff like CBT, but not a chronic illness and major psychiatric disorder. Did he at least approve a referral to a psychiatrist? A social worker did that for me in the UK (ffs). On another attempt at getting help, I got a gp and then a neurologist. End result? “you probably don’t have epilepsy”. I’m really glad it helped though, and honestly, you wouldn’t get taken seriously unless you staggered in and foamed at the mouth a bit anyway. Don’t get into the system unless you need to – and be sensible about it and involve a sensible person or two in making that judgment. Dunno about you, but when my mood is way up, I really shouldn’t be trusted to boil a kettle. And after all my croaking like a corvid, I hope js is on the money, because major depression and anxiety are tons easier to manage, medicate etc, whatever.

        *falls off soapbox*

        On a totally unrelated but far more pleasant note, was it you I chatted about roses with? And if so, did we discuss the Shropshire Lad rose? If not, uh, carry on… Hehehe.

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      2. It was! The Shropshire Lad is one of the climbers, you did mention it and I have on my budget request a trip to Chatsworth as you advised (perhaps on my birthday!) so I could ask them about the ancient-looking climber roses I am trying to find. What made you think of them?
        As for getting into the system, are you saying it would be better to go independently? Because if yes I can’t afford it :/

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      3. I was reading part of The Shropshire Lad, that’s what reminded me. And yes and me neither – I’ve geared down to seeing my shrink every 3 months now.

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      4. Every three months! Is that enough to be helpful then? Because that I could budget for. I’m sorry I realise I sound like I just fell out of the pear tree and know nothing of nothing. I had only tried counselling so far (half price! “only” 30 pounds an hour) and thought that had to be an ongoing weekly thing. I’ve never actually had a session with a psychiatrist before and have often wondered what it was like. Paying a truckload of money to see someone listen to me counselling myself (cause that’s what I do) is what I fear.

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