Привет, hola, hello! Welcome to my blog. I debated the necessity of actually making an “about me” page because this entire blog is one big window into my thoughts, but a few people suggested it. I figured it couldn’t hurt, considering I don’t expect my new followers to read all the way back to the beginning to get the whole story.
Here’s what you need to know — the quick-and-dirty rundown on J.
- I’m 29, though I like to tell people I’m actually 93 because I was raised by my grandma and her sister so even as a kid, I was a miniature old lady.
- I have two cats. I’m currently in graduate school pursing my master’s degree in counseling and am moving to Baltimore with my significant other in about a month. Once I’m there, I’m interested in getting more involved in both advocacy and storytelling groups.
- In my spare time, I love playing the piano, cross-stitching vulgarities, reading anything I can get my little hands on, and playing video games. In other words, I’m a pretty average chick.
- I love selfies and am a firm believer in doing whatever you need to do when it comes to keeping yourself happy and healthy. If anyone wants a selfie buddy, I’m totally down for that.
Sick but Pretty…
I first saw a psychiatrist at age 18. I was in the midst of an abusive relationship that would drag on for another year and was extremely depressed. The initial diagnosis was PTSD; the theory was that my depression was merely a symptom.
I was treated based on that premise for several years. My first therapist was a wonderful, gentle elderly man who took a Rogerian/client-focused approach, which was comforting in some ways but very unproductive in others. I needed to really dig deep into the trauma and had a hard time finding a therapist who was willing to do that without accidentally making my condition worse.
I moved to the Madison area in fall 2012 and continued with psychiatric care. I was on therapist No. 5 by this point, counting the marital counselor my ex and I saw fairly early in our relationship; the final one in my hometown (shortly before my move to WI) was disturbed by my “stone-face” and thought that crying was good. She encouraged it…to the point where she pushed so hard to provoke tears in the name of catharsis that my episodes of dissociation, which had been fairly rare up until that point, though terrifying, became chronic. I have been “locked” in a permanent depersonalized/derealized state for a solid five years. This is my new normal.
By this time, the line of thought psychiatrists were using to treat me was that I had major depressive disorder with the PTSD. I was given some pretty heavy doses of antidepressants and antipsychotics to bring up and stabilize my moods.
I finally decided that it wasn’t working, mostly because the new psychiatrist seemed to have no understanding of the word “poor,” and found a wonderful doctor who is also a fairly brilliant diagnostician. After one thirty-minute interview, he said that he thought I was bipolar. It was like an incredible weight had been lifted—all my life, I’d been terrified of being “just like my mother,” but now I had nothing left to fear because I’d had the disorder all along.
We continued to work together over the course of several weeks and narrowed things down. I described what I learned were actually pretty severe manic episodes and began tracking my cycles. At my worst, I was cycling 20+ times a day.
The final diagnosis: ultra-rapid-cycling bipolar disorder, type I, and C-PTSD (Complex Post-Traumatic Disorder, which you can read more about here) with dissociation (the twin demons of depersonalization and derealization).
At present, my medication is working quite well. I have a lot of work to do in therapy when it comes to resolving the many issues that nineteen years of being re-traumatized countless times has caused, but I feel that as a whole, I’m a fairly functional person. I started the column, and then this blog, to give a voice to those who are unable to speak out. The stigma is unbearable and being vocal is a risk many people can’t afford to take — it costs us our jobs, relationships, and at a disturbingly high rate, even our lives. To survive, we must “play sane” and try to “pass.”
Maybe it’s because of everything I’ve been through, but I found myself, at age 19, quite unable to give a even a fraction of a damn about the consequences of poking my head out of the proverbial trench and shouting until someone heard me. I am passionate about this. I want to fight the good fight. I want things to be better for us. I have to believe they can get better.