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When I read this story about premenstrual dysphoric disorder, “All the Rage”, it was like when I first read books about bipolar – here, yet again, is my story…a few details aside. It’s pretty convincing as a mirror of my own experience, in which what appears to be bipolar disorder is in fact premenstrual dysphoric disorder. Except the data aren’t quite as clear for me. That would be too convenient.

The tiny carnival in my head is not this pleasant.

Miniature carnival model railroad at the New York State Fair. The tiny carnival in my head is ugly.

It’s much more likely I have a hormonal imbalance on top of a mood disorder. Plus the ADHD, of course. A recent blog post by Natasha Tracy on how a person with bipolar disorder thinks also really rang true – she describes the general tenor of my mental patterns very accurately. I have been a catastrophizer extraordinaire since I was at least 4 – I can remember episodes acute anxiety about improbable disasters for over 30 years! I never thought it all that odd, but how would I know? Anyway, those thinking patterns alone do not bipolar disorder indicate, either.

In fact, there are a lot of really confusing, conflicting details, and it has been an uphill battle to get anyone to take a look at the bigger picture before diagnosing through the lens of their own specialty. I find that after pinning so much on a diagnosis that could give some some kind of answers, after a few years what matters the most to me now is that I get the most effective treatment possible. The label that goes with it is less and less meaningful, at least until I try to talk to anyone about it.

Perhaps I’m just jaded, or in a bad spot with respect to acceptance right now. Maybe I’m right about everything, or maybe I’m wrong about everything – either conclusion sounds completely logical to me, depending on which day you ask. More likely I’m right about some of it, in whatever fashion is most ultimately ironic.

Regardless, I hereby relinquish my bipolar disorder diagnostic status out of respect for those whose symptoms better match the clinical specification. I’m OK with “mood disorder not otherwise specified” for the time being.

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