the sound and the fury
i am so angry right now i feel like i could vomit. i actually don’t know what to do with myself. i’m just kind of sitting here, confounded.
it’s bittersweet really.
i don’t want to minimize the first part of this story just because i’m angry about the most recent event, so let me see if i can manage to articulate it coherently.
y’all who read this blog or even my “about me” page know that i was diagnosed bipolar II in may 2012. it was traumatic, to say the least, and brought me to the brink of suicide on multiple occasions. it has had far reaching effects on my well-being, my relationships with family and friends (and lovers), and professionally. and still, over a year later, i reap the consequences as just this week people in my professional circle have made reference to “my problem”.
lucky for me (and i do mean lucky), for whatever reason, whether it be because i am a graduate student in psychology, or because i have an insatiable quest for knowledge, or because WHEN YOU ARE DIAGNOSED WITH A SERIOUS MENTAL ILLNESS YOU TAKE IT SERIOUSLY, i sought out a phd-level clinical psychologist who specialized in bipolar disorder. of course, i went in for a second opinion, but it was probably a good idea anyway because i had no the fuck idea how to handle this diagnosis and it only made my depression even worse. i literally lost my mind, and to this day i still experience the fallout from that serious short-circuit to my brain, where i could barely form sentences, let alone understand what the fuck anyone else was saying. memory, gone. ever seen memento? yeah, that was me.
so i kept my end of the bargain. i went, faithfully, to this woman, every week. sometimes i really didn’t understand the purpose of our sessions but in hindsight i realize they were more about gathering data about me. what am i like? what are my behavioral tendencies? how do i react to stress or challenges? how do i react to great experiences? what is the pattern of my mood fluctuations? you can’t really figure all of that out in an hour session; it *requires* multiple observations over a long period of time.
this is much unlike the practice of she-who-shall-not-be-named, the evil cuntwad who diagnosed me within the first ten minutes of our first session. we’ll get to her in a minute.
almost a year and a half has passed and i had actually forgotten (not really, more like…set aside) the fact that i was seeing a psychologist weekly to get a second opinion about my bipolar diagnosis. then, when i returned from the great pacific northwest, after my aunt threatened my life and a bunch of other shit happened (yeah, i haven’t blogged about that yet), i was sitting in her office trying to figure out how to navigate the situation with my aunt and the rest of my family and it happened. i don’t recall what immediately preceded this moment. i only have the flash memory of what she said.
i don’t think you’re bipolar
and i heard it and i stopped and i said, what did you say? i’d heard her, but i just wanted to hear it again. to savor the moment, maybe, i don’t know.
i don’t think you’re bipolar
and this was just, like, too much for my brain to handle, so i didn’t follow up with anything. i kind of just let that idea enter my brain and percolate a while because i could not fucking handle it in that moment. so i missed maybe a beat, and kept talking about my aunt.
a few weeks have passed since this moment, and i can still barely look it in the face. it may be shock, but when i think of it it’s like a flood of emotions and an absence of them at the same time. i don’t really know how to describe it otherwise. so i kind of downplayed it. i took it as a working hypothesis, rather than fact. simply that the evidence indicated that i was not bipolar. there is no certainty. and that’s been the only way i’ve been able to deal with it.
until this week.
this week, on three separate occasions, two individuals have mentioned “my problem” in passing. as if it’s ha-ha, nudge-nudge, funny. and maybe i was okay with that before. maybe my response to those comments was permissive, or encouraging even. but this week, they just made me fucking angry. and as each one occurred, i became more and more angry, so that i was just operating with a general level of irritation about it. my daydreams were usurped by imagining telling them off for making jokes about my being bipolar (because HELLO, I’m NOT now…as if they could know), and the furious fucking letters i would write to the campus psych services, the psychiatry ethics board, and hell, the a.p.fucking.a. about the evil cuntwhore witch doctor who both diagnosed me prematurely and then told me i was “immature” when i hadn’t told my advisor that i was diagnosed bipolar, leading to these comments in the fucking first place.
so that’s what i talked about in therapy today. i was nearly brought to tears recounting the breadth and depth of damage done by this woman, recalling wanting to die, desperately, and the damage it caused to my relationships and myself.
and do you know what my motherfucking therapist told me? i couldn’t fucking believe it. she said:
i had another patient come in, who was diagnosed right away with bipolar. the same woman who diagnosed you.
let’s just sit with that for a moment.
because this means a lot of things.
this means, 1) i was fucking vindicated, 2) there was reason to suspect that her diagnostic decisions were a pattern, 3) she is, as i suspected, a danger to others.
those are really the most important ones right now. so yes, we have an n=2 (sample size of 2). but that’s two who happened to end up going to the same psychologist to talk about it. probabilistically, then, there are probably more.
and remember, i consider myself lucky – LUCKY – to have had the insight or drive or whatever the fuck it was to GO SEE ANOTHER PROFESSIONAL. what about those who don’t!?
so now, i am sitting here, ready to vomit, because i’m angry on behalf of myself and terrified for others who might suffer the same fate, who might not, for whatever reason, seek alternative opinions or care and who will LIVE ON AS IF THEY HAVE A SERIOUS MENTAL ILLNESS THAT THEY DO NOT HAVE.
and it is fucking DAMAGING folks! Many of my readers know this implicitly because they or a loved one experiences it themselves. MY PROFESSIONAL REPUTATION IS FOREVER CHANGED BECAUSE OF THIS. MY FAITH IN MYSELF WAS COMPLETELY DEMOLISHED, DESTROYED, AND I WANTED TO DIE. DESPERATELY. FRIENDS AND FAMILY DISTANCED THEMSELVES AND I WAS ISOLATED AND ALONE. somehow i survived.
BUT THE NEXT PERSON MIGHT NOT.
THIS IS NOT OKAY.
so i ask you, mental health community, what can be done? who can i report to? where do i sent my letter of complaint?
HOW CAN I MAKE SURE THIS WOMAN NEVER HURTS ANOTHER PERSON AGAIN?
and if i can’t do that…
HOW CAN I MAKE SURE THIS PATTERN IS ON HER FUCKING RECORD?
so that maybe, just maybe, when the next person complains, they will have a second complaint – my complaint – on record to show that YES, this is indeed a pattern, and YES, this woman is not professional and possibly not ethical, and YES, she is a risk to others.
please tell me: what can i do?