Wednesday, December 26, 2012

What I Am and Am NOT

I just re-read this post I did back in 2006, and I got to thinking how much labels can hurt us.  I've been diagnosed with everything from Late-lutial Phasic Disorder (fancy name for PMS), to eating disorder NOS (not otherwise specified), to Bulemia to ADHD, to bi-polar to PTSD, to depression NOS, to anxiety...did I miss any?  I also suspect some "professionals" have wanted to label me with paranoia and schizophrenia. 

The ones I've never had doubts about are PMS, sporadic eating disorder NOS, sporadic and minor Bulemia, depression, anxiety and PTSD.  ADHD?  Maybe, especially considering it runs in my family.  Bi-polar?  Hell no.  Paranoia and schizophrenia?  Nope.   

The problem is, there are so many overlaps in symptoms and assumptions about behaviors that I think it's virtually impossible to label and treat mental illness accurately without doing long-term studies on each patient, which we know will not happen because it's too damn expensive.

Here's what I do know, and I don't need a professional to validate any of it. 

  1. My anxiety and depression get a lot worse around my periods, which are irregular.  My medication affects me differently around those times of the month. 
  2. My anxiety is increased by my surroundings, especially if the surroundings have lots of PTSD triggers.  I know PTSD is a kind of brain scarring, and it takes a long time to heal.  So I'm just going with it and trying to make my own accommodations.
  3. I can get obsessed with projects, especially writing and other work.  This can be bad and good.
  4. I am often noise sensitive (I have tinnitus) and get distracted by this, which can cause more anxiety, depending on where I am.  This sometimes makes me irritable as well.
  5. I get depressed and even morose when I don't have work and/or structure.  The severity of the depression varies according to normal, daily stress, biology and anxiety.  During these times, it's easy for me to dwell on negativity, especially when I am alone in the house with just this computer.
  6. There is a link between my normal creative state and PTSD.  However, I know where reality begins and ends.
  7. There is a link between PTSD and agoraphobia.
  8. I don't sleep well because of aches and pains, pets, strange dreams (often fun), and writing in my mind when I'm half asleep.  This screws with my sleeping patterns and moods.
  9. When I get depressed and/or anxious, I sleep and eat more.
  10. When I get on brain-overload, I just want to lie down and let the thoughts roam.  I pretty much suck at meditation.
  11. I can get listless, and when I do, no activity particularly appeals to me. I can also get very restless and bored, which makes me irritable and difficult to live with.
  12. I can be impulsive, especially in speech and writing.
  13. I can get very forgetful and dippy. 
I don't have a lot of time to write this morning, but I will say that because of labels and because I'm a writer and a fierce proponent of social justice, I'm often misjudged and have been misdiagnosed, as well as incorrectly medicated, all of which are not good (except that they have been learning experiences).  So while I hate to pull the "misunderstood artist" card, in this case, I have to.  I know it's a valid one because we artists do think differently than most of the world and perceive things in ways that others don't entirely understand.

Oh yeah, and did I mention I am left handed?

Ponder that for awhile, shrinks.

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