I have been working with my therapist on trauma and we have been talking about how a lot of my “symptoms” are really evidence of trauma and less a list of things that support a diagnosis.
She explained that it’s super common for someone like me to present with a bunch of symptoms and get a diagnosis, medications and a host of things that seem appropriate at the time, (and likely were in terms of medication etc.), but then to develop skills and insight during therapy that can take the place of things and shine the light on what’s really going on.
My prescriber even hinted that she thought along these lines, so it’s not like my therapist is out in left field with this.
I have been so attached to my “labels” that it’s been very strange to contemplate letting go of some of them.
It’s true that I’m really adding new ones too, like PTSD, but whatever. I am not the way I used to be and I am not defined by my diagnoses.
I think it is scary how much I identified with “bipolar disorder.” I’m not sure it’s even true now and I kept trying to see it everywhere.
Every time I was joyful, it had to be mania. Every time I was sad, it was depression. I never truly owned an emotional state of my own. I never just accepted that it was okay to be sad for a day. That it’s normal even.
I’m a pretty emotional person, so it’s easy to fall into the trap that something must be “wrong.” I think I just have a broad range of emotions and that I’m relatively normal given what I’ve been through.
My responses to things and triggers are explainable. There’s a predictable pattern to them and they are the way someone responds to things that has been through trauma.
I don’t know. I still don’t know what I think about this. Maybe I’m just living with bipolar AND trauma. Maybe they aren’t mutually exclusive. I’m open to that, although I will be honest that I can look back and see myself trying to stuff myself into the “bipolar” box a lot to convince people that it was legitimate.
Things to think about.
Older original art by me.