At 6 o’clock this morning, I submitted my official withdrawal from university.

I knew it was the right thing to do, but I still cried. And I cried again when I got the e-mail at 8 AM that my withdrawal was accepted.

It has been over a month and I still haven’t received an answer, and I just can’t wait around for a committee of people who don’t even know me to judge me based on a diagnosis and a few sentences out of my blog.

You know what? I’m hurt. I’m angry. I feel betrayed. I feel judged.

This wasn’t done out of concern for me. With the exception of one person (who I know did not write any anonymous reports), no one approached me about any concerns. Shit, no one even asked me if I was okay. A person who is genuinely concerned about someone will ASK that person, or at least make some attempt to talk to her. Genuinely concerned people don’t create fake e-mail addresses and send anonymous reports to the school, with links to my blog posts. That is not genuine concern. That, in simplest terms, is being an asshole.

You write extensively about your diagnosis of Dissociative Identity Disorder. Your blog documents serious struggles with mental health issues that have raised significant concerns…

Yes. I have DID. And? I don’t have it written on my forehead. You wouldn’t know I had it from looking at me. I have chosen to be open about it because of the shame and stigma attached to the diagnosis, shame and stigma that I have been trying to fight against. And yes, I  struggle with mental health issues. Any person who has been through similar experiences has them, too. But I manage them as best I can. I work just to pay for therapy.

In the blog you write that you are “consistently suicidal”, and that you are “in school for something that I’m not even sure I can handle.”

Gosh, a person with DID who struggles with suicidal thoughts. Considering that more than 70% of people with DID have attempted suicide, this should not be a huge surprise. As I have explained in this post, there is a difference between feeling suicidal and being suicidal. No matter how I was feeling, I continued to go to work, I went to class, and I did what needed to be done because I knew they were just feelings.

And what student hasn’t had doubts? My whole life, I’ve excelled academically. I’ve never really failed at anything. But I would be lying if I said I never doubted my abilities. I am sure some level of self-doubt is completely normal. I would be more concerned about someone who had absolutely no self-doubt.

Due to the severity of this situation and the perceived threat to yourself and others, I am making a referral…to evaluate whether or not your circumstances impair your ability to safely continue in the program…

Perceived threat to yourself and others.  Wow. Okay. I am not a threat to myself. If I wanted to kill myself, I would have either stayed in home prison or I would have jumped in front of a train by now. I wouldn’t have gotten a job, enrolled in graduate school, started an organization, and I wouldn’t be going to therapy a few times a week to make myself better.

A threat to others? In what way? Because I have DID? A diagnosis does not make me a violent lunatic. What have I ever done to show that I have ever been a threat to others? I don’t hurt other people. I didn’t even hurt my abusers. I avoided all conflict and confrontation and ran away. I let them get away with everything, when other people would have hurt them for what they did. If I didn’t hurt the very people who caused me so much pain, who the hell would I hurt? Who am I a threat to? No one. The answer is no one.

So, despite getting As, having a 4.0 GPA, scoring higher than average on the CPCE before I even started the program, giving an outstanding presentation on the psychological effects of continued child abuse, and handing in consistently professional, high-quality work, I have had to drop out of graduate school.

I’d like to think this wasn’t because of fear, viciousness, or misunderstanding, but my heart tells me that it was.

To whoever reported me, I hope you are never put in a situation where your life is scrutinized.

I haven’t done anything wrong. I will continue to write. I will continue to fight. I should not have to prove my worth any more than I already do.

Why I Chose Psychology

Psychology was not my original major.

When I first started college, I majored in mathematics. I’m not even sure why I did. I liked math. But what the hell do you do with a mathematics degree? Shit. You do shit.

Then I bounced around from majoring in English to communications to who knows what else. I was 18 and didn’t even know myself, let alone what I wanted to do with my life. All of the departments wanted me, so whenever someone grabbed a hold of me and gave me their pitch, I ended up changing my major to that. Looking back, it was such a hot mess. Thankfully, I didn’t waste too much of my life there.

I took a course in psychology to fulfill a social science requirement. It was my first psychology course – my high school never had anything psychology-related. I really enjoyed it and found it interesting. One day in class, we were discussing odd behaviors in childhood. Students were sharing their stories. I, for some reason, decided to share my childhood fascination (not the right word, I don’t even know) with saving my poop. Through the laughter, the professor came up with possible explanations for my behavior. Something in me clicked that day. If psychology gave reasons for my shitty (literally) behavior, what other things could it explain?

I soon switched my major to psychology. Unfortunately, a short time later, I dropped out of school. But I never lost my love for psychology; it only grew. I was determined to find explanations. I wanted to know why I had so many issues. What were the reasons for my behaviors? What caused my mental illness? What is really wrong with me?

And as I went along, I started seeking out answers to explain my mother’s behavior. What makes a parent hate her child? What makes people abuse others? How are people able to act one way in public and a different way in private? Are people like that aware of what they are doing? Is it mental illness, or is it a choice?

I needed answers. I spent so much of my 20s, even out of school, researching and reading and looking for answers. I needed answers. Some of the answers, I did find. But most regarding my mother were left unanswered.

I realize now that not every question has an answer. I may never know or understand why my mother did the things she did. No one knows for certain except my mother. But that won’t stop me from trying. I want to understand. I need to understand.

I turn to psychology to help me understand. I turn to psychology so I can help others understand. I want to know the ins and outs of the human mind. I want to understand behavior. I want to understand what makes people do bad things just as much as I want to understand what makes people do good. I want to know about resilience. I want to know it all.

I was meant to study psychology.


I am, once again, off medication.

I probably shouldn’t have started back in the first place. I’ve struggled with finding medications that were more beneficial than harmful. I’ve talked about my issues with psychotropic medications before in this post. I cannot take antidepressants because they cause an adverse reaction. I actually seem to function quite decently on no medication at all (and that’s not just me saying that – others agree).

My migraines were getting so bothersome that I agreed to give Topamax a try when my doctor suggested it back in March. I had been on Topamax before – last year to be exact – and had considerable side effects and ended up weaning off. But I was so desperate for relief, and my doctor was confident that Topamax would work for my migraines and would help me stop smoking – killing two birds with one stone.

It worked. My migraines significantly diminished, and after a week or two, I had no migraines at all. Headaches, yes, but they were tolerable in comparison to the migraines I had been experiencing for so long. I found relief.

Unfortunately, I also found a shitload of side effects. Gastrointestinal issues (I will spare you the details) just worsened as the dosage increased. While my cravings for cigarettes decreased (I actually managed to go 10 days without smoking), my cravings for everything else – including food – also decreased. The mere act of drinking water required a massive amount of effort, because anything that would go near my mouth would make me instantly sick.

Even so, I continued to take the Topamax. But then the scary side effects started to creep up. I would be having an okay day and suicidal thoughts would come out of nowhere. I didn’t put two and two together until the thoughts continued to get worse as my dosage continued to increase.

I’ve had similar reactions before, but that was when I was taking antidepressants. I knew Topamax was not an anti-depressant. Out of curiosity, I googled Topamax and suicide and came across countless others who had experienced the same side effects. I read at least a dozen accounts that were eerily similar to mine: being okay one minute, then having troubling – at times graphic – thoughts of suicide just moments later.

I knew then that maybe this medication was just not worth it for me. I really wanted it to work out, because my migraines were gone. But I also knew that I needed to be alive and functional, and the medication was sending me on a path in the opposite direction. I told my therapist what was going on. I told my close friends to watch out for the signs. And after two more weeks with no improvement, I started to wean off of the medication.

So now I am sans medication. My migraines are back, but I am treating them with OTC migraine medication for now. My mind is not as foggy. I feel more mentally balanced. My mood is more stabilized now that I am off of the medication (which is ironic, because Topamax is used off-label as a mood stabilizer). I feel more connected to reality and to living.

I am not advocating anyone going off of their medication. I have done it in the past under close guidance. I just happen to be one of the small percentage of people who experience adverse reactions/side effects from psychotropic medications.

I wish there was a pill I could take to make me better. Unfortunately, with trauma-based disorders like PTSD and DID, treatment relies more on therapy than on medication. That’s why I go to therapy a few times a week, every week. Healing happens from there, not from a pill.

Why Feeling Suicidal Isn’t Being Suicidal

I want to share an article I came across a short time ago:

When You’re in the Gray Area of Being Suicidal

The author (Taylor Jones) does an excellent job of putting into words what so many of us experience on a regular basis: feeling suicidal but not wanting to die.

You can’t fault someone for having suicidal feelings. But there is a key difference between feeling suicidal and being suicidal. When you are suicidal and want to die, you make a plan, and may even go so far as to put that plan into action.

When you are feeling suicidal, it remains a feeling. You don’t act on it. You may even forget that it’s there for a while before it creeps up again. You go about living your life because you really don’t want to die, but you can’t help what you’re feeling.

If I wanted to die, I would be dead. I would not be sitting at my computer right now, typing up this blog post. I could have overdosed on something. I could have jumped in front of a train or a bus. But I have not. Because I don’t want to die.

If I wanted to die, I would have just stayed in home prison. My mother would have killed me soon enough. Instead, I knew that there was life outside of those walls, a life that was probably worth living.

If I wanted to die, I wouldn’t be dragging my ass to work every day to earn a paycheck. I wouldn’t even be getting out of bed. What would be the point?

If I wanted to die, I wouldn’t be spending the majority of the money I earn paying for my therapy sessions each week. In fact, I wouldn’t even bother going to therapy. There would be no point. Instead, I have continued to go to therapy every few days for the last 10 months.

And if I was in danger, I know how to get help. I admitted myself to the hospital all of those times, and even though I probably didn’t need to be in the hospital, I knew in my heart it was better for me to be there (especially while I was still living with my abusers).

So yes, I often feel suicidal, but no, I’m not suicidal. It’s not the same thing.

Doctor’s Appointment

I had my doctor’s appointment on Monday.

It was full of a lot of disappointment.

I am proud of myself for sticking through it and not backing out, despite terrible anxiety.

I sat in the waiting room filling out endless paperwork. I’m pretty sure my legs were shaking the entire time. I considered walking out twice, but I couldn’t.

I finally got in the room and the doctor came in. She seemed a nice. A little upbeat. I’m weary of upbeat people. Perhaps she drank too much coffee. She looked over my paperwork, then focused on my lengthy list of hospitalizations. Panic attacks, psychiatric, psychiatric, malnutrition, psychiatric, psychiatric, and then at least six hospitalizations for pneumonia that I could remember in the last decade. Then she noticed the name of the hospital and asked me where it was.

“Oh, I delivered babies at that hospital. I used to live there!”

My heart sank a little. Of the hundreds of cities and towns in this state, this doctor happened to live in my hometown, just a few minutes away from where I used to live. It’s not even a major city, which makes it even more weird. A part of me instantly put a guard up. Anyone from back home is a possible threat in my mind, even though the actual likelihood that they are is slim to none. Tell my brain that.

She did a mental health/depression screening. I failed. I should have known better. Because then, of course, she wanted to put me on psych meds. No thanks. She named several antidepressants that her patients had shown success on. That’s great. Except a) I don’t have clinical depression and b) I can’t take anti-depressants. I am part of the small percentage of people who have reverse reactions to SSRIs and SNRIs and end up more depressed and suicidal. There are no medications for DID. I didn’t come here for psych meds. I started to get frustrated and lost hope in the rest of the appointment.

Then she suggested a medication for my migraines, and said it would also help me stop smoking. I recognized the name as a medication I had taken before and had to stop taking because I couldn’t handle the nausea and complete loss of appetite. But she was a little insistent, even after I subtly mentioned a few times that eating enough is already a problem for me. But I’m fat, so most doctors don’t see past that and assume I could benefit from a loss in appetite. They don’t realize that, just two years ago, I weighed 160 pounds more than I do now. I just gave in and let her write the prescription, telling myself I could decide later on if I wanted to take it. Then I realized that her dosage is 4X the dose I was taking when I stopped taking it some time ago. So I’m certain taking this medication will not go over well.

She was especially concerned with my respiratory problems. I have a history of asthma, chronic pneumonia, and respiratory failure. I smoke. I have a family history of heart disease. She wanted an EKG, but by the end of the appointment I just couldn’t do it. She listened to my lungs. I hate taking deep breaths, because I can hear and feel the air struggling to get out of my lungs when I exhale. It is not a good sound. It is not a good feeling. This was no different.

She tried to explain, using her hands, what was happening to my lungs. She mentioned COPD – and this wasn’t the first time I had heard that. My long history of respiratory problems and consistent pattern of breathing difficulties had been pushing me towards a COPD diagnosis, but no doctors had ever made it official and never made it a priority. She prescribed me a few different inhalers, which she said would treat both asthma and COPD. And in my mind, it hadn’t yet clicked that she was insinuating that I had COPD. I thought she was just saying it was a risk to try to get me to stop smoking.

But then, the next day, I checked my medical record online to make sure all of my information went through, and right there, towards the top of my chart, was chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, unspecified – Active – Diagnosis Date 03212016. For some reason, in that moment, it hit me. This diagnosis was on my medical record. What the fuck.

I was angry. I was enraged. Not at myself. But AT THE DOCTOR. How could she do this to me? I am 30 years old. COPD is for old people. I am not old. I do not have COPD. And being the irrational person that I am sometimes, I responded by going to the store and buying MORE cigarettes – because in my mind, if I already have the diagnosis, why the fuck should I care now? It’s just been a whirlwind of emotions about this that I still haven’t processed yet.

Going back to the appointment, she took a lot of blood. Probably more than I’ve ever had taken before. She is testing my vitamin levels, thyroid, blood titers, all the usual shit and then some. And that was it. There was so much focus on my mental health and my breathing, issues that I thought I had under control, and nothing about my constant pain. I was disappointed. I have to go back and see her next month, but I just don’t know if it’s worth the travel to get there. It did not go as we (me and my therapist) had hoped. I will talk to my therapist more about it in our session tomorrow, but I just don’t know. I need to take some time and think it over. As I smoke more cigarettes. With my new inhalers.

I’m sad that so many doctors don’t consider the past, only the present. Of course I have trouble sleeping and hate life sometimes. If you knew what I experienced the last 30 years, my present makes sense. Yes, I’m overweight now. But I lost a tremendous amount of weight in a relatively short amount of time and got sick from it. So while yes, I need to lose weight, I don’t need to promote my eating disorder to do so.

I know that some of my health issues are my own fault. Smoking does not help my cause. But I also had severe respiratory problems well before I started smoking. I started because at that point, I didn’t care. Part of me still doesn’t. But still. I’m only fucking 30. Where the fuck did I go wrong in life?

Meanwhile, the shittiest fucking people alive are still living. My mother will probably outlive me. My father has had several heart attacks, a stroke, and congestive heart failure for years and he is STILL hanging on. What the fuck.

Life is a cruel joke sometimes.

The ongoing battle: Why I deny my DID and why I know that I have it

I’d like to think that, as I am now six months into my official dissociative identity disorder diagnosis, I wouldn’t still be struggling with accepting that I have DID. But the truth is that I still have doubts. Some mornings I wake up in complete denial. I try to rationalize my denial my pointing out the differences between myself and others with DID I’ve come across, even though I know full well that the dissociative spectrum is so diverse that no one’s DID is the same as another person’s. Yet I still try to convince myself that this all just a misunderstanding.

Reasons I use to tell myself I don’t have DID (note that I am not saying any of this is true for all people with DID – these are my irrational rationalizations):

Medication: I am not taking any psychotropic medications, and I haven’t since September. Every person I’ve ever come across with DID (and mental illness in general) takes at LEAST one psychotropic medication. I tell myself that since I am functioning without medication, I must not be ill at all.

Functioning: I function decently well. I’ve held jobs (and excelled at them), I’ve always been one of the highest achievers in my class (from elementary school through college), and I am able to live independently without assistance from anyone. I know many others with DID are not that fortunate. They are unable to hold jobs, unable to focus or stay present long enough to manage an education, and many are in supportive living.

No inner world: In my reading and through my participation in DID support groups, I’ve come across so many people speak of an inner world that they can actually picture inside of their minds – filled with different rooms and places for alters to go. I don’t have that. I find it difficult to imagine having that.

Trauma: This is difficult for to me admit, as I would tell a client to never compare his or her pain to another person’s. Yet I find myself regularly comparing my trauma to other people’s traumas, insisting that my experiences are minor in comparison to what other people have gone through. I tell myself I don’t have DID because what I went through just wasn’t that bad.

Lack of alter involvement: I realize in typing this out that it is one big oxymoron, because admitting that my alters exist actually supports my DID diagnosis. Many of my DID friends have actively participating alters: alters that use the computer and social media as themselves, alters that perform certain life tasks, etc. None of my alters use the computer (that I know of). None of them have their own accounts. As far as I’ve realized, I’m the one putting the work into daily tasks, not any of my alters.

Memory: Although I don’t remember everything, I do have memories of quite a few traumatic experiences I have endured. I tell myself that if I really had DID, I would have dissociated during these events and blocked them out from my memory. Why didn’t I dissociate all of the time?

Reasons I use to counteract my denial:

Medication: Funny how I use this both as a tool for denial and a tool for acceptance. The fact that psychotropic medications don’t affect me actually supports a dissociative diagnosis. DID cannot be treated with medication. The symptoms that may coincide, such as depression and anxiety, can be treated with medication, but DID itself must be treated through therapy. It explains why anti-depressants never helped me, and why even the strongest anti-psychotics never stopped the voices in my head.

Outsiders have met my insiders: When I told a good friend about my DID, there was no sense of shock or surprise. In fact, my friend had suspected something long before I even realized it. When I asked why he never said anything to me, he said it didn’t matter to him – it was just who I was. I even found out he had met one of my younger parts. My therapist has also met several of my parts, even before they were comfortable enough to come out to me.

Recognizing differences: Two weeks ago, I had a disagreement with a coworker. We were discussing an issue with boxes that needed to be shipped out, and I insisted that I didn’t pack and label the boxes. I couldn’t recognize my own handwriting. As I stood there vehemently denying that these boxes were mine, my coworker reminded me that I was the only one who knew how to do it, and no one else would have written those labels out. He was right. It could have only been me. But that was not my handwriting. Someone else had taken over for me, and it wasn’t the first time. Over the years, I have come across many notes that were not in my usual handwriting, but I knew that they must have been written by me. These differences are never subtle, either.

Ending up with things I don’t remember buying (or liking): I’ve been known to carry around a pink and white polka dot bookbag. My therapist commented on it once, and I mentioned how I hated the color pink. And then she asked me why I had a pink bag. Truthfully, I don’t even remember buying it. I don’t remember buying a lot of things I end up with.

The voices in my head: I can’t ignore it. Hearing voices is not normal. Yet I’ve heard them for years. Sometimes I can understand what they are saying, and sometimes I can’t. Medication doesn’t make them go away because they are parts of me. They are not auditory hallucinations. They are my alters.

Memories: There are entire chunks of my life missing from my memory. Sometimes I can’t remember what I did last week or what happened in therapy. These are clear indications of dissociation. When I am present, my memory is exceptional. There is no other reason for my memory to be that shitty, even with the drugs and alcohol I’ve taken in the past.

Trauma: This is another dual-purpose tool for both denial and acceptance. I know through my research and involvement with other survivors of mother-daughter sexual abuse that the incidence of DID seems to be much higher with survivors of this type of abuse, so inevitably my risk is higher. I also endured physical, sexual, emotional, and psychological abuse by both of my parents, increasing my risk factor for developing DID even more. As much as I don’t want to admit it, I had a traumatic childhood and early adulthood. Saying that my life was fine won’t change the fact that it really wasn’t.

As I sat in therapy last week and insisted that I never went through any trauma, my therapist reminded me that that just wasn’t the truth. She told me that if I continued to deny my experiences, I was also denying everything that my parts went through, all of the trauma they endured. It’s not just about me; it’s about them, too. I realized that I was doing the same thing to my parts that other people had done to me: denying the reality of my/our experiences.

Sure, I wish I didn’t have DID. No one wants DID and all of the shit it comes with. But for every reason I come up with to support my denial, there are even more reasons that support my diagnosis. I can try to maintain my dissonance, but that will never work in the long run. Maybe one day I won’t have to fight myself anymore on this issue. We’ve done enough fighting already.

Giving crazy a name

I’m a very analytical person.  I like when things have names and definitions and concepts I can understand.  One of the reasons I went into psychology was so I could put a name on my mother’s type of crazy.  I wanted to know why.  I wanted to know what exactly was wrong with her.  There has to be something.  People don’t just act like that for no reason.  I needed an explanation.

I have since realized that my mother’s crazy is not diagnosable, or should I say, not limited to a single diagnosis.  My mother exhibits the signs of narcissistic, histrionic, and borderline personality disorders.  She’s also paranoid and likely has a mood disorder of some sort.  But you know what?  Knowing that doesn’t make me feel any better.  Having a mental illness doesn’t excuse you from being an abuser.  Hell, it doesn’t even excuse you from being asshole (that’s you, Dad).  In my early 20s, I struggled a lot with placing blame.  I so badly wanted to hate my mother for what she did, but then part of me thought, “what if she’s mentally ill?”  I was just trying to find an excuse for all the shit she did and was still doing.  Eventually, after several years, I realized all of that didn’t matter.  My mother did what she did because of who she is as a person, not because of some illness.  She had a choice.

Despite not caring about my mother’s diagnosis, I still so badly want to know what’s wrong with me.  Will it make a difference?  I don’t know.  I would like to think that it would.  A diagnosis provides a sense of direction, a method of treatment, an explanation of symptoms.  I have yet to have that.  It’s quite possible that my desire for a diagnosis, a name for my crazy, has been strengthened by my years of experience with different diagnoses.  I never really had a concrete answer.

My first diagnosis was bipolar II at the age of 15.  My first therapist worked with a psychiatrist who officially diagnosed me and started me on a mood stabilizer.  I didn’t really understand the diagnosis, even more so now that I am older.  My mood changes were nothing more than what is typically experienced by a teenager.  My issues were much deeper than that.  After more therapy, my diagnosis was changed to bipolar I with psychotic features.  My therapist believed there were times in which I was out of touch with reality; I did things I didn’t remember doing and acted like a different person, which she attributed to psychosis.  I now believe that those instances were actually times I had dissociated, not psychotic episodes.  Back then, I had no idea what dissociation was, and apparently neither did my therapist.

When I returned to therapy a few years later, my therapist diagnosed me with social anxiety.  I think he mistook my fear of talking with him (and others) as social anxiety when the real reason was because I was conditioned not to speak by my mother.  I don’t blame him for that bad diagnosis; you can’t diagnosis someone accurately if you don’t get the full picture.

Many years later, when I scheduled an appointment to see my primary care physician, I was diagnosed with depression and anxiety.  Generally, I don’t condone primary care physicians diagnosing psychological disorders because their training is just not adequate in most cases.  But I was desperate at the time and could not manage to see a psychiatrist or psychologist, so I did the only thing I could.  I wasn’t looking for a diagnosis; I was just looking for relief.

After my first hospitalization, I was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder and depression with suicidal ideation.  The PTSD diagnosis made sense, as I had experienced some debilitating flashbacks as well as other common symptoms (irritability, trouble sleeping, and hypervigilence).  The depression diagnosis I had no strong feelings about; it just seemed like something they labelled on most people.  My diagnoses were relatively similar after  my second hospitalization (which I would hope so, seeing as though it was less than two weeks later).  The only difference was that they added “chronic” to my depression diagnosis.

When I started mandated therapy shortly after my second hospitalization, my therapist was required to make a diagnosis to report to the insurance company.  After two hours of intake and two subsequent one-hour sessions, she completely ignored the PTSD diagnosis and any related anxiety and diagnosed me with depression secondary to asthma.  This diagnosis was laughable.  I was not depressed because of my asthma.  Asthma was the least of my problems.  And it wasn’t like she was unaware of my history.  She was sent all of my information from the hospital.  She was clueless.  So clueless.  She even had the nerve to tell me she didn’t think I had anxiety at all.  Anxiety was probably the only thing I was sure I had in some form or another.  She was such an idiot.

Around the same time, my PCP diagnosed me with ADHD.  I was having trouble keeping attention, focusing on anything…hell, sitting still was difficult.  I always had problems, but they seemed to be magnified in those last few months.  It was never an issue before because I managed to function quite well academically as a child.  It could have very well been all of the medications I was on that made it worse, or even just my ever-increasing stress levels.  Who really knows.

When I was hospitalized for a third time in February, the ADHD diagnosis was dropped by the psychiatric nurse.  Instead, I was diagnosed with generalized anxiety disorder, chronic depression, and borderline personality disorder.  The BPD diagnosis was shocking to me.  I had extensive knowledge about the disorder from my psychology studies, and didn’t fit most of the criteria for diagnosis.  I believe they made the diagnosis based on my self-injury. Many professionals automatically associate self-injury with BPD, even though it is also present in order disorders.  I didn’t want that label on me.  I also knew, through my studies, that many professionals did not want to work with someone with BPD.  When I told my therapist about the diagnosis, she seemed to agree with my disapproval of it.  It was comforting to at least know that someone was on my side and I wasn’t completely unaware of my own mental state.

As of right now, I don’t have a diagnosis.  I have chosen to disregard all of my previous diagnoses because I don’t feel confident in any of the people who diagnosed me.  I hope that eventually, in my current therapy work, I can be diagnosed with something…anything.  At least this time, my therapist is taking her time and learning as much as she can about me and my history.  I trust in her knowledge and experience more than anyone else.  I just want to know that I’m not completely crazy.  I need a name for what I’m experiencing.  I need an explanation.

My love/hate (mostly hate) relationship with medication

I’ve been meaning to write this post for a while, but never quite got around to it.

Anyone who has experienced some type of psychological distress or mental illness has likely also experienced some type of medication to treat it.  Even with psychotherapy, most doctors and psychiatrists push medications to help ease the symptoms and improve functioning.  Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t.  It’s always a gamble, more so than with physical conditions, because the brain isn’t always so straightforward.  Fourteen years of experience, lots of research, and an education in psychology has allowed me to increase my knowledge about psychotropic medications.  I almost wish I had the knowledge before taking some of these medications, but what’s done is done.

I started out, at the ripe young age of 15, on a twice daily prescription of Depakote.  Since I couldn’t swallow pills at that age, I had to take the liquid form – which came in a container that resembled a large bottle of peroxide.  The taste was not pleasant.  The side effects were annoying; I would get sunburn just from sitting in the car.  I also developed cystic ovaries that were most likely a direct side effect from the medication.  More importantly, Depakote didn’t do shit for me psychologically.  But why would it?  I didn’t have Bipolar Disorder.  It was a waste of money, a waste of time, and a waste of my ovaries.

I went quite a few years sans medication.  That wasn’t by my choice, really.  I wasn’t allowed to go to the doctor.  I just dealt with everything on my own, as usual.  I managed to stay alive, so I guess I can’t complain.  Maybe I should have kept with that method, because starting back on a path of medications turned out to be a horrible experience.

In October 2014, I managed to sneak to the doctor’s office to ask about medication.  I had been communicating with a therapist online who suggested that it was worth looking into.  I was at a point where I was becoming increasingly unable to deal with shit on my own.  I was prescribed 50mg of Zoloft and 0.25 of Xanax.  After a week, I was having trouble sleeping, so they added on Ambien.  After two more weeks, I still wasn’t feeling any better, so they increased my Zoloft to 50 mg twice a day and Xanax three times a day.  Within a week or two, I was severely suicidal.  I felt worse than I did the month before when I came to the doctor’s with nothing.  I just wanted them to try a different medication.  I knew there were numerous options.  Instead, I ended up hospitalized.

During the first hospitalization, I was taken off Zoloft and put on Paxil.  No change.  After a few days, I was taken off Paxil and put on Prozac.  Prozac made me want to jump out of my own skin.  I was constantly on edge, irritated, and anxious.  I couldn’t stop shaking during one of the group sessions, so the therapist called the psychiatrist in to reassess.  The Prozac was immediately discontinued and I was started on 10mg of trifluoperazine.  Yea, I never heard of it, either.  Once I got out of the hospital, I was able to research it and found out is an old-school anti-psychotic prescribed for schizophrenia.  It was definitely not a common drug – I had to go to several pharmacies before I found one that even had the medication in stock.  While it didn’t make me worse like all of the antidepressants I had taken before, it didn’t really make me better.  There were some days where it left me feeling weird overall – like it hurt to be in my own body, physically and mentally.  I had to keep moving because I felt that if I had stopped, my body would become rigid and it made my pain worse.  After a week of taking it outside of the hospital, I stopped.  The weird sensations were just too much for me.

During my second hospitalization, my medications were changed again.  I was put on Celexa and Ativan.  The Ativan worked better than Xanax ever did, but the Celexa was the same as any other anti-depressant I had been on.  I was switched to Remeron, which I had never heard of before.  It’s a less popular anti-depressant, not an SSRI but a tetracyclic.  I started back on the trifluoperazine.  By this time, I was just tired of being in the hospital. I was also dealing with malnourishment and was put on a load of supplements, and was sort of in a “fuck it all” mindset.  I had been sleeping a lot, but I had attributed it to the malnourishment.  Weeks later, my sleeping had only gotten worse.  I would wake up to take a shower and would crawl right back into bed afterwards because I was so exhausted.  When I was working, I would come home and go right back to sleep.  On the weekends when I had off from work, I would sleep 14-15 hours straight; even when I was awake, I was still too tired to do much of anything.  I was miserable.  To make matters worse, I started losing my vision; it was a side effect from the trifluoperazine.  Once I started having involuntary facial twitches, which I recognized as the beginning of tardive dyskinesia, I knew I had to stop taking the trifluoperazine for good.

Some time between my December hospitalization and my last hospitalization in February, my primary care doctor prescribed me Adderall for ADHD.  I always had problems with keeping focus and attention, but I managed all those years just fine.  It did get to a point where it was becoming overwhelming.  I was barely able to get my school work done and I was having problems at work.  I started out with 10mg and it worked.  I was able to get shit done.  My mind was clear.  I could focus for once.  My doctor gradually increased the dose to 30mg twice a day.  I felt so much better overall, not just attention-wise, but anxiety-wise as well.

Going back to that horrible drug Remeron, I couldn’t get a refill because county-run facilities are shit and the psychiatrist cancelled my appointments more than four times.  I couldn’t even wean myself off and I became increasingly suicidal again.  It’s no surprise I ended up in the hospital in February.  In the hospital, they took me off of all my medications, including the Adderall, which was probably the only redeeming medication I was taking.  The nurse practitioner did not think the Adderall was helping me; I found it somewhat amusing that this was the same facility that placed me on so many medications previously that did shit as far as making me better.

This time, I was prescribed 150mg of Zoloft and Seroquel.  Within an hour of taking the Zoloft, I lost consciousness.  I woke up on a hospital bed with no idea of what had happened.  I was monitored for the next 12 hours and got to stay in bed.  It was marked in my record that I was reactive to Zoloft and should not be prescribed it ever again.  They waited a day and then started me on Lexapro.  A few days later they changed the Seroquel to Risperdal because I guess I hadn’t had much benefit from it.  I was also put on Klonopin for anxiety.  I had a paper due soon, so I told the hospital staff the medication was working so I could get the hell home.  I wasn’t any worse, maybe slightly better, but still not stable.

I didn’t like the way Klonopin made me feel, so I switched back to taking Ativan as needed.  After a month or so, the psychiatrist doubled my Lexapro dose because I was (like clockwork) getting worse, added trazadone and increased my Ativan.  I was taking so many medications that I carried around a purse just so I would remember to take them all.

I tried to keep up with taking my medications…I really did.  I know that people go off of their medications all the time and end up in a worse position.  In my heart, I believed it was too much.  I got tired of taking multiple medications every hour of my life and not really seeing a result.  I made the decision in May to wean myself off of all of my medications, including my beloved Adderall (which was re-prescribed by my PCP).  I didn’t tell anyone because I knew I would get backlash from it.  I would not have done it if I wasn’t educated and knew what I was dealing with.  I also had enough sense to know if something was going wrong.  I never suffered any withdrawals.  While I didn’t get any better, more importantly, I didn’t get any worse. 

It’s been more than two months now and I’m still functioning.  I do occasionally take an Ativan when I feel my anxiety getting bad (who would blame me, especially these last several weeks).  I did notice that my focus and attention went to shit, but I was coping.  Then it got bad.  I was so behind in my thesis work and got to a point of desperation.  Luckily, I saved all of the medication I stopped taking.  I took an Adderall on Tuesday night and finished 13 pages of research by Wednesday morning. My mind was clear, my anxiety was gone.  I even decided to do something I never do and went to the beach by myself.  It was a good feeling.  I missed the Adderall.  I probably shouldn’t have taken a full dose, though, as I ended up staying awake for over 40 hours straight.  It was nice feeling somewhat normal for those 40 hours.

I’m not even sure if I’ve mentioned all of the medications I’ve been on.  All I can tell you is it’s been too many.  I probably function better now that I’m not on a bunch of medications.  My therapist was actually supportive of my decision when I told her what I had done.  Now, I am working on finding a new doctor that my therapist can work with to make sure I’m not sent down that slippery slope of over-medication again.