Ed. note: This is a long story, but important so I've left it in its entirety. The story relates to the mis- and then proper diagnosis of mental health issues.
I was misdiagnosed as bipolar as a teenager, the after effects of this still haunt to me to this day.
Let me go back a bit here first though to explain how I got there. As a young child and again as a preteen I was raped by an adult who was close to me. I never disclosed this information to anyone for my sanity, and yet not doing so would eventually steal it away anyways.
By 13 though, I was broken beyond repair I felt. So I began to cut at myself. That was the first mistake I made. I was truly tired of feeling the same trauma pain over and over, I just wanted to feel something else. I was numb and I wanted to feel alive again. Yet it still was a stupid mistake, the first of many many more.
My best friend decided she was worried about those cuts, and so she informed my parents hoping they would help me through my time of need. They didn't...they made things worse. They sat me in this tiny one-seater sofa and stood over me and stared for a moment before letting lose on the anger. Yelling things like "why are you like this?" As well as "you're only doing this for attention!" It was that point I vowed to never tell my parents about the rape. I was already struggling with telling them, but that moment made me fear ever more that they would not believe me. How could they? They didn't believe me about why I cut myself. That I did it to feel something. So how could they believe their child yelling rape a few years after it had happened.
That was my second mistake. Thinking that hiding it all would make it better. That hiding it would make it go away...things only got worse from there. I started having trouble with impulse control. I would only find out years later that it was due to PTSD. Yet during the time it happened, no one knew that. Not even me. My impulses became worse as time went on. By 14 I could barely sleep and that made things worse as well. So I started sneaking out late at night and walking by my best guy friend. I was trying to clear my head, and we lived in a smaller area that I felt safe in just walking with one other person.
My parents accused me of sneaking out to satisfy teenage urges, i.e drinking, partying, and doing drugs. I always told them I wasn't doing those things, which I wasn't (yet). But alas without announcing the rape, I couldn't properly explain why I needed to just go for a walk, or why I had so much anxiety that I couldn't sleep. I should have said something then.
That was my third mistake. My mother eventually got tired of my antics and she sent me away at 14 to live with my sister and her husband. Things took another terrible turn here. My sister's husband who was 21 at the time, took it upon himself to try and give me a back rub while we were alone. He started off innocent. Rubbing my back through my shirt. I had known him since I was 9, so I didn't feel it was sexual at the time. Then it got weird. He pushed my shirt up a bit. But not enough to cause panic, as it seemed like he was just going to rub my back without the shirt in the way, yet without actually taking it off.
But then he unhooked my bra and told me to turn over onto my back instead of my stomach. That's when the bells started singing in my head. He was about to do to me what I strived so hard to avoid. So I panicked and got up as quickly as I could and said no and ran off.
I didn't come home for a few hours after that. But when I did, it was never spoken of again (til years and years later when he outed himself to his wife, my sister, on accident and I was forced to open up about what happened.) That situation broke me more though. I assumed this must be how all men are. Repulsive, and willing to do anything to anyone, regardless of relation.
That was my fourth mistake. Normalizing what was going on around me. I felt so broken at that point though that I started skipping classes. I couldn't think straight anyways, let alone learn. I felt like a leech in society because I was just there taking up space and sucking the life out of others with my depression and random wild side. This would be my fifth mistake. My brother-in-law took it upon himself to punish me. Very aggressively. By the end of the ordeal, he had managed to leave me in a crying puddle on my bed with a door smashed through, while managing to push my sister in the process.
My sister snapped and she sent me home to my parents and thought about divorcing him. She didn't. And sadly that's another story too long to tell, but it's their drama and not mine so I will leave it out. Once home though, I never told anyone why I ditched. I just let them believe I was a bad kid. These next 2 years for me (14 to 16) turned out to be when I snapped. I developed a nausea at early 14. Anything that was new, certain foods, anxiety, and stress all seemed to trigger these uncontrollable bouts of vomiting and severe pain.
I tried to keep that all to myself, and there was my sixth mistake. By 16 I was so plagued by the nightmares and intrusive thoughts that my mentality was highly unstable. From the outside I looked mentally ill. When in reality is was trauma, but none of us knew that at the time. So at 16 I was brought to my mother (after several failed 5150 attempts that screwed me up even more) to a psychiatrist that treated teenagers. I remember her asking me these questions about my mentality and my mother answered most of them. By this point I was scared to speak up because I just wanted it to be over with.
There was as my seventh mistake. Because it was that day that I was diagnosed with bipolar. My life changed forever from there. From then on I only got sicker. Mentally and physically. I was a drunk by then. With a severe addiction to dangerous situations. So at 17 almost 18, I took off back to where my sister lived a state over. She lived in a party city (Reno) and I wanted to drink my problems away. This was my 8th mistake. By this point, I was so loaded up on bipolar medications I didn't need, I never felt right. I always felt out of sync with myself. I always felt more stable and normal off of them than on them. But then every doctor would always tell me that once I felt better I would stop taking the meds then I would crash back into the issue. But it was never like that, the issue were there and worse with the medication than off of them. So when I randomly got pregnant at 19 out there, I decided to call it quits on the medication.
That was actually the first thing I did right. I got level headed for a long while after that. So after 2 months I felt pretty normal again aside from what we would later know were the PTSD symptoms. That was when I decided to come home to my family so I could get some help with my son that I was pregnant with. They had been wanting me to come back since the day they found out I was pregnant. And sadly, it was for my son and not me. Had I not been pregnant they would have continued to ignore my calls when I just wanted to talk to them. I was the ignored black sheep til my son came to be.
By this point, I was severely ill every day. About a year prior to getting pregnant I began to wake up every day in severe stomach pain and throwing up non-stop. I spent a lot of days and nights in ERs trying to find an answer with no avail. And I say ER because I was so dehydrated that I was on the verge of death if I didn't go for at least IV fluids. So by the time that my son came into the picture as a pregnancy, I had been sick for a very very long time. I was going on 5 years of vomiting what seemed like every day and hospital trips monthly. This broke me even more. I couldn't enjoy anything anymore. Meaning the drinking and partying made me literally sick and I couldn't do it anymore.
That's when it all caught up to me. The mental pain I had been hiding from, the trauma I tried so very hard to forget was resurfacing. Memories my brain had previously blocked out when coming back in flashbacks and memories. My nightmares began to take over my nights. I was useless in every aspect of life except taking care of my son. Something about the gorgeous smile on that baby gave me a bit of hope for a useful me in this world. If I couldn't function outside of my home, I could at least function inside of it. The anxiety was so severe when I left that it became to hard to bear. And so when flu season rolled around (my son was born in October) and he was an infant I stayed home unless it was absolutely necessary to leave so he wouldn't get sick.
That was my 9th mistake. Because it led me to a point to where I became agoraphobic. I decided if I was at least somewhat okay at home, why should I ever leave? I can buy everything online now including food. So I decided I should just stay home and take care of my son. My son flourished because of this, but I didn't. It screwed me even more in the end. I spent a few years locking myself up. Only coming out when people dragged me out and I had no choice, if my son had an appointment for shots or something, or if I needed to go to the hospital.
I started seeing a psychiatrist shortly after this point. To try and regain some of my life back. I was then diagnosed with panic disorder and agoraphobia. This psychiatrist didn't last long though, as he dropped me as a patient for not making it to visits with him even though I kept constant contact with their office. I was shocked to be dropped for something that was caused by the very illness they were trying to treat. I became a recluse once more after that. I also want to take a quick second to point out that all of this was going on during a point when I had no contact with my son's father. He stayed in Reno and I came to California to be with my family. We hated each other at the time, and so all of this was going on while I was trying to take care of an infant alone.
I began to become very morbid by the time I hit 22 because they diagnosed my nausea and pain problem as cyclic vomiting syndrome. I now had an answer to part of what was wrong, but it hit hard to hear because for that, there is absolutely no cure, just management treatment. I was slapped with the reality that I was probably going to be sick my whole life. So that added in with my mental issues, was enough to bring me to one of the lowest points in my life at the time. But shortly after that I rekindled an old friendship that would end up saving my life in the end. Literally. My old best friend from high school and I begun dating. It was a semblance of hope peeking into my soul. He made me feel comfortable in ways no one else ever could. I never felt judged or shamed. I could just be me without fear of being 5150ed for my behavior. (I was scared to death of being 5150ed after my mother did it to me so many times. Every time I was let go on grounds that I wasn't a danger to anyone, but regardless it was traumatic for me) so I started to open up.
But sadly that wasn't enough to make everything wrong with me go away. It was a masked cover up just like the drinking was. So during a visit from my old friend who was now my BF, I had a melt down. Or a break down, whatever you want to call it. It was our one year anniversary and I was sick. Hospital worthy sick. I got too excited and that is actually a trigger for my cyclic vomiting syndrome. I snapped then. I broke harder. I felt useless in a way I never did before. I couldn't even be there mentally for someone during our anniversary. So how could I ever be useful to anyone ever? I can't work because of the illness. I'm on medical except on welfare to support my son. At the time I couldn't go to school because I had lost my fee waiver from being sick too much and failing too many classes. Everything that ever went wrong in my life came flooding in that day.
September 18th, 2017, I tried to kill myself in front of my boyfriend. I couldn't get out of his sight because he was so worried that I was going to fall over I was so sick. So in a flood of adrenaline I ran for a knife so I could just stab myself once real good or slit a wrist quicker than he could catch me. Thankfully the adrenaline my boyfriend had was enough to restrain me. He managed to get me away from the knives and into the bedroom. He bear hugged me in a way on the floor to where I could not get away. I tried and tried and tried to get out of it. I just wanted to die. I felt there was no use for me. That there was no point to go on anymore.
Eventually I ran out of energy struggling. I used up a lot more than he did wiggling around trying to get out of it. When things settled he convinced me to seek help. That's when everything started to change for the better. I ended up in an outpatient program because I was too scared to be away from home that long that I pleaded to be there instead of inpatient and I'm glad I did. In the outpatient they have to have someone come in and diagnose you in the first few days. This psychiatrist was the best I had ever seen in my life. She probed at questions no one else had before. One important one being, have you ever experience any trauma?
She knew as an experienced psychiatrist that sometimes PTSD can mimic bipolar, and that after all my treatment for bipolar I never got better, only worse. Eventually, after a series of hours with this amazing woman, I was finally diagnosed with a proper diagnosis for what's wrong with me. PTSD, generalized anxiety disorder, panic disorder, agoraphobia, and severe depression. To this day I still don't know what possessed me to open up about what happened to me that day. But my honestly is what got me my proper diagnosis. Now it's been about 7 months since that incident and my world had changed so much. I'm on anxiety medication that works well with PTSD, anxiety and depression. I'm on a very very low dose of seroquel to sleep. Now I'm not saying I'm cured, but I'm headed in the right direction. I can thank honestly for that. So in the end, I'm telling this story in hopes that if it reaches one person and helps bring them to a point of recovery. Also, I've never told my whole story to anyone ever, and I was requested to by a therapist of mine. So this was no easy to write. Thank you for taking the time to read this.
(Sent via Miss•Treated)