About A. Patient
I’ve recently been diagnosed with bipolar disorder. Bipolar II to be exact. Apparently this disorder has such a negative stigma that not even my psychiatrist will report it officially. Instead, I’m “Mood Disorder, Not Otherwise Specified”.
I know I’m depressed. I know I’ve had bad anxiety. I was pretty confident that I need treatment for PTSD. But bipolar? That changes everything. So, I don’t really know what I am, but according to my M3 score of 70, I’m something.
I’m starting this blog for a lot of reasons. First, I need a place to vent, anonymously and without reservation, both about the diagnosis and the mental health system, and society at large.
Second, I realized that dealing with this on my own makes things worse. Unfortunately, most of my friends and family don’t seem to understand my condition(s?) so I’ve been removing myself, temporarily, from those interactions to manage stress, and I’m isolated and terrified about what happens next. In my life, I’ve been through the muck to be sure, but nothing like this. I quite literally feel like I’m standing at a precipice, and the next major stressor is going to knock me past the point of no return…if I haven’t passed it already.
Third, I’m a PhD Candidate in Psychology. I am in a research, not clinical, program, but the clinical program at my university emphasizes evidence-based practice. This means I have a backstage pass to the comedy (tragedy?) that is the mental health system, lots of training, and strong skills to evaluate and review the latest dogma coming out of the field. I have also observed the discord between clinicians and researchers, and I’ve seen how the downstream effects harm the lives of others.
Finally, I’m a teacher. This is a role that I love and see as a privilege. I also think it is a role underrated by most academics and that, in combination with their terrible penchant for pretentiousness, leads to scholarly self-isolating and a disconnect between science and the public. I like to bridge that gap and make scientific discoveries accessible to everyone. Don’t get me wrong: I love science and what it can offer but there are a great number of people steering the field in the wrong direction. But many people do not have the training, which is unfortunately often provided only in graduate training, in research methodology and statistics to critically evaluate reported results. I want to adapt what I’ve learned through teaching to help others understand exactly what the hell is going on around here–at least approximately.
So, if such a thing as catharsis exists, I’m going to take a stab at it. Hopefully, you can find some useful nuggets for your own journey.