Sunday, March 29, 2009

More fan mail

I should either be showering, getting my nails done, or getting my hair blown out. But all of that would require a lot more effort than answering more fan mail. Granted, it's from the same fan, Marissa, but I'd still rather answer it than do what I should be doing.

I would still be grateful for more details about the initial diagnosis. Fair disclosure: The person in my family does not acknowledge her illness, although she's received the same diagnosis multiple times--but only when forced into treatment. She is not able, as you are, to deal with it and blames her employment problems, failed marriage,lack of close relationships, etc., on everyone else. I suppose I'm hoping to get some insight into why you've been able to accept and therefore "fight" with the disease, and why she can't.

I think I always felt something was wrong with me, from a very young age. I felt unhappier than everyone else, more volatile. While most adolescents feel this way, it's not normal in a young child. When I was driving in the car with my mother, I'd see another car coming our way and I'd want it to hit us instead of passing us. So I was depressed as a child, depressed as an adolescent, and clinically depressed to the point of nonfunctioning as an adult.

I never thought I was "normal," so finding out that I had an illness wasn't hard to accept. It was an explanation for what I'd always felt but had no name for. It was a relief.

Your cousin's personality disorder traits are likely what prevent her from accepting this or any diagnosis. People with personality disorders will never believe that they are the problem -- it's always somebody or something else. My boss says that all personality disorders are essentially narcissistic in origin.

There's nothing wrong with me -- everyone is against me, says Paranoid Personality Disorder.

There's nothing wrong with me -- people don't know how to keep a house clean and organized, or do their job right, says Obsessive-Compulsive PD.

There's nothing wrong with me -- people just don't appreciate or understand or love me enough, say Narcissistic and Borderline PD.

One criterion for a diagnosis of personality disorder is pervasive difficulty functioning across all realms -- work/school, family, community, etc. Disorders like bipolar and even schizophrenia are cyclical -- they come and go. There are periods of more or less normal functioning. But people with personality disorders are constantly impaired.

I also didn't realize that bipolar II sufferers can be thrown into a manic state by anti-depressants. Wow - it's such a fine line between medicine that helps and medicine that wreaks havoc.

So true. And we haven't even mentioned side effects. I still believe that the anti-depressant that worked best for me was Effexor -- but it gave me nightmares. I had anxiety dreams every night. Twice, over the course of several months, I spent the night in a room with my mother. Both nights I woke her up because I was crying in my sleep. So I don't take Effexor anymore.

I am curious - were there signs of your disease when you were younger? The little knowledge I think I've gleaned from reading suggests that people with bi-polar i or ii can start showing signs at an early age, at least of "mercurial" moods (as Kay Jamison Redfield stated multiple times). I know you felt "uncool" in high school -- do you think that was just high school, or do you think it was a brain thing as well?

See above. I think I was depressed as a child. My mother reports that I'd come home from school and slam doors. I didn't like my first grade teacher -- I corrected her spelling once, and she was a bitch to me for the rest of the year. This was after experiencing a serious trauma in kindergarten, which I won't go into but from which probably stems a good deal of my illness. Children often express depression as anger more than sadness.

Just in more reflections, I think your last two entries are good examples of what I see as your heightened coping skills. The Dirty Black Hat guy was inappropriate so you said "Eeeyach" and ended your association with him - but you didn't take HIS inappropriateness as having anything to do with you. There are lots of weird men in the world -- you've encountered plenty, but their weirdness has *nothing* to do with you. The question is whether you walk away or not. So this time you just walked away and said "what a creep." Similarly, you gave of yourself in a meaningful way with the baby this morning -- I wish I had the energy and skills for that.

Well, shucks, thanks. If I really had energy, I'd get my darn hair done ;) The skills -- I think anyone could do it with practice, and I hope I'll get better at it. She and I were both kind of wiped out after less than two hours. I've never been so glad I work with adult substance abusers, and I have a whole new respect for people who work with kids.
Copyright (c) "Ayelet Survivor"

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