That specific trauma is no longer a big deal

Around this time, 16 years ago, I voluntarily admitted myself to a psychiatric unit, but then I got stuck there for 19 days without knowing what was going on.  The lack of communication was horrendous.  I suffered a psychotic break and left with a diagnosis of bipolar disorder.  I accepted this for years, and I internalized that I have a mental illness in some pretty detrimental ways.  This has always stayed with me, always felt like something I needed to work through and get past.

Two years ago, I wrote about how I came to finally acquire my medical records from my hospital stay, and how I started to process things differently with the help of my therapist:
Continuing to work through a specific trauma

Last year, I wrote about finally bringing that record into therapy and how it felt to have her go through it.  I was starting to realize that maybe I didn’t need to pick it all apart; maybe my perspective was shifting naturally, over time.
That specific trauma is still there

This year, although I’m acknowledging the anniversary, it feels like just the slightest emotional blip on my radar.  I talked about it in therapy yesterday.  I finally got my hospital records back from my therapist (she had been holding onto them for me for a whole year!)  I looked through them again last night – there was always one page I skipped over.  It was handwritten by me, explaining what had been going on in my social life that led me to feel like I needed to be hospitalized.  I read it and felt OK about it.

Although this seems counter-intuitive, I think it helps that I was hospitalized in January.  Where everything went wrong the first time around, everything went right(?) (maybe not right, but it went smoothly) this time around.  I can overlay this experience on top of my shitty traumatic experience, and things make more sense.

I resisted the diagnosis of bipolar disorder for a long time,  I’d been off all meds for 9 years; I felt relatively stable.  When it was re-affirmed that I have bipolar disorder by the psychiatrist I was assigned, (“Once a bipolar, always a bipolar.”) I bristled at that.  Actually, I bristled at him in general every step of the way.  Appointments with him lasted a mere 2 minutes.  He was inflexible and adamant I stay on meds forever.  He forgot pertinent information about me.  (At one point he told me I needed to stay on meds because I had been hearing voices.)  After 6 months, I just stopped making appointments with him.  With all his intensity toward me staying on meds, it was surprising how easily he let me just get away.  Maybe he didn’t even notice I left.

My therapist helped me find a new psychiatrist; she’s awesome!  She’s willing to follow my lead on what I want to do about drugs, and she’s willing to dialogue with me instead of ordering me what to do.  I still don’t know what to do about drugs, but at least I have the space to feel supported with whatever I do choose to do.  For now, I’m staying on them, but I can’t pinpoint why.

I respect this new psychiatrist.  When she (also) told me I fit the criteria for bipolar type I, for the first time in a very long time, I felt like I could accept that.  I don’t need to incorporate that in any particular way into my identity; it doesn’t need to mean I view myself differently.  Personally, it’s not a core part of who I am.  It just is an aspect of me that can just be, and I can leave it at that.

And I can finally integrate the difficult journey toward mental health as parts of myself, rather than things that happened to me.


6 Comments on “That specific trauma is no longer a big deal”

  1. Steve Austin says:

    Thanks so much for sharing this slice of your life. It’s been three years since my stay on the ward. It changed my life forever, but I am so thankful for the journey and all that I am learning. I appreciate this piece.

    Like

  2. Thank you for sharing that , your post has me mulling over a possible blog post about my own mental health issues , and you are not alone, I was admitted to the psychiatric unit when i was 16 years old, I was there for nearly 5 months 🙂

    Like

  3. Fredrication says:

    I’m so happy that you have found a therapist you like and that you have made peace with your past! All the best!

    Like


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s