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It’s a long and complicated story as to how I got to this point. I’m too tired to put anything into the telling of that irritating story. So I won’t.

But the long and short of it is that I’ve had three – count ’em, three – independent evaluations by psychologists and social workers who all agree that my symptoms look like bipolar ii. I went to a psychiatrist for a formal evaluation, and just never got a diagnosis out of her. So now that I’m officially “in therapy” (I had my first session with the new guy last week) the first thing I’m told is to get an official diagnosis (dx). Here we go again…

OK, appointment made. Next week, the powers that be shall pass judgment on my mental health. Or to be more precise, a licensed mental health nurse practitioner will spend 45 minutes deciding the course of things to come. And probably changing my meds as well.

In the meantime, the dx code on my paperwork at the therapy place is 296.89 – bipolar ii. I’ve been thinking about it and trying to come to terms with it for awhile, but seeing it there on official paperwork made me feel like I really am crazy. It kinda shook me up for the rest of that day. I’m really not accepting the diagnosis all that well just yet, as if not believing in it would make it less true.

The new therapist seems OK. Aging hippie type, but approachable enough. His concern is that my symptoms (bp ii) and medication (antidepressant) don’t match up. Not to mention the antidepressant can cause anxiety, and I’m a high anxiety gal to start with, so the antidepressant may be making things somewhat worse.

I’m terrified to try the new meds that I’m almost certain will be offered. The side effects are nasty and could be worse than the disease to some extent. I can’t face the thought of gaining more weight, much less any of the functional cognitive impairments that seem to come along with most drugs considered suitable for bipolar disorder. At the same time, it would be nice to have a shot at better stability.

And I know that they’ll recommend teetotalling again, and I hated that the last time around. Though perhaps if I wasn’t freaking out all the time, I wouldn’t find the need for a smoke or a drink to help me get through the day and fall asleep quickly and painlessly. But every time a therapist-type asks me about substance use, suddenly it doesn’t sound so good to me to admit that I drink and smoke nearly every day, and mostly just to relax and get to sleep. There’s something not quite right in that.

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