I always seemed to have a rough time with my emotions and anxiety, starting in grade school and progressively getting worse in high school. That 15 years of coping by myself (I never told anyone) gave me enough time to cover up how I felt and learn to live in a world that values being social, funny, intelligent, pretty, and accomplished. It is easy to be accomplished when you require little to no sleep about half of the time. I got a full ride scholarship to college and majored in Psychology (never once thought something was wrong). A professor of mine administered the MMPI-II to willing students and told me I should seek counseling because I scored high on so many of the scales. He was terribly concerned because I was the last person he expected to see those results. He knew I was covering up the suffering I was going through, and so I laughed it off and went to the bar.
At 22, I finally went to my doctor because of horrible anxiety. He told me I was probably sexually abused as a child and gave me a prescription for Paxil. No follow up. I took the Paxil as instructed, but after 5-6 weeks I knew there was something wrong and decided to wean myself off. It took me another 6 years to finally go to another doctor, where I was prescribed Lexapro for anxiety and sent on my way. After a week, I became hysterical, depressed, and could barely function. That had never happened to me before. I went back for a follow-up, filled out standard questions, and listened as she said, "I think you have bipolar disorder order." I was relieved! Finally, an answer!
"I'm not qualified to treat you for this, so you'll need to find a psychiatrist on your own." Healthcare in Texas. If you want to use insurance, there is a 6-month wait. Or, it's $250/hr. and they can get you in right away. That's all I have to say. I ended up flying back home to Omaha to see a doctor that could get me in and actually took insurance. She diagnosed me as bipolar NOS, since I don't "present" in ways that fit other categories. I blindly followed her advice for a few years even with several mishaps trying at least 10 different medications. I also saw counselors, who had no idea what they were dealing with, I had times that were manageable, but it was mostly just difficult.
After reaching my almost breaking point, I decided to see a new doctor...one that doesn't take insurance. And he's worth every penny. I got to a point where I wanted to die and had rationalized why it made sense to. I reached out to my new doctor, and he saved my life. He continues to save my life every day. He prescribes drugs that work, even though they are cheap. He answers emails and reads my blog to better understand me. We spend most of our appointments sharing articles we've read or theories we have, and he has helped me harness the great parts of bipolar disorder that work to my advantage. Despite all the mistakes I made during hypomanic, depressed, and mixed episodes, I wouldn't change anything. I manage stress better than most people I know, I know what's important in life, and I can laugh my way through all of it. The constipation I have from the meds isn't always so funny, but let's face it...poop is always kind of funny!