I’ve been intentionally quiet in recent weeks, but be assured: I am alive and kicking!
I’ve been quiet because I received my psych evaluation, after an uncomfortably long waiting period. It could have been a literal week, but even a day feels like eternity when you’re anxious for results. (I may have been born extremely stubborn, but patience is a virtue I have only recently begun practicing…hahaha!)
It took two days before I would even let myself open that email. I was 100% terrified of the result because I knew I was about to face some cold, hard truths about my character. Things I’ve known all along about who Kelly Terese IS but also was ashamed to admit outright to others, though I’m not sure why. I might face a whole new set of challenges with the diagnosis – am I really ready for that?
Once I was determined that this evaluation wouldn’t change my goal of getting back to the happiness I remembered experiencing in childhood, I decided I would accept whatever clinical diagnosis was made. I took a deep breath, opened the email and downloaded the pdf. As I read through the file, I very quickly found myself exhibiting Kübler-Ross’s model of grief (for those who remember from psychology courses).
It’s amazing how quickly one can progress between stages of this basic model of psychological truth, especially when you’ve been through plenty of life-altering changes typically associated with grief – the untimely death of a dear friend, the unexpected diagnosis of an unpredictable autoimmune disorder, countless failed relationships…so in some ways, I’m quite well equipped to handle yet another challenge. What really is another evaluation when I’ve had several already?
In fact, the reason I initiated this evaluation process was to shed some light on what has really been going on with my mental health all along. Back before Dr. A retired in 2013, I had asked for his professional opinion on my long-held Bipolar I diagnosis, as I had always suspected it was somehow in error. I couldn’t recall a manic phase for years prior and I knew the chances of it being magically suppressed on its own without an assist from a mood stabilizer were slim to none. I had been highly skeptical for at least a decade at that point so I discussed it at length with my doctor and he seemed to agree with my suspicions.
This has been on my mind a long time but now that I have been reincorporating healthy habits into my life, it was time to address my hardest struggle – and in turn, make everything easier. I sincerely believe that every issue we will ever face is conquered with a “mind over matter” approach. I was going to conquer this diagnosis, too, but I have to know my enemy in order to emerge victorious in the end.
As I read the psychologist’s written statements, I grew increasingly irritated over spelling errors and misrepresentations of some things I had reported to her in my initial appointment. Anger. Denial. As I continued reading her two-page summary, though, my logic returned to me. And I reminded myself that I wanted to know, that I sought these answers because I want to be better and feel better. I am driven to find the happiness that had eluded me for so long and I just wanted to feel sheer joy again on a regular basis! I began making mental notes of the things I would give up just to be free from the struggles of depression and sudden mood swings. Bargaining. I cried a little. Ok, I cried a little more than “a little.” Depression. I finished reading her report and I decided that there was a lot of truth in it. I also recognized how much I had already changed for the better since my troubled twenties and I realized that I was finally headed in the right direction. Acceptance.
I know I have a long way to go. Let me repeat that: I know I have a long way to go. But I will get where I want to be.
And now that I have a name for this disorder, I can treat it using more effective means. I will most likely need to try a mood stabilizer again, but hey, it isn’t the end of the world. And if it lessens my mood swings, then I’ll happily take it! The hardest part for me will be (and has always been) to maintain awareness of my thoughts, words, and attitudes. Mindful meditation has been helpful so far; now I just need to practice it regularly.
P.S. I will not be divulging my diagnosis on here at this time. Thank you for your understanding!