Mental Health Series #5

General Anxiety Disorder
Social Phobia
Unspecified Depression Disorder
Bipolar II Disorder

These were the labels now on my medical record. The first two I anticipated. I mean, that is why I went this route in the first place. The depression disorder surprised me mainly because I didn't feel depressed. I just didn't want to do anything that made me deal with society. (Isolation- which I now know is a form of depression.)

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder- I pictured an eight year old boy. I was so unaware that a grown woman could be diagnosed as such. My psychologist began asking me questions about my childhood. What did my teachers say about me? Well, that I was a bright child, always finished my work early, got bored easily, and talked way too much. Apparently in adolescent girls- those are common ways it manifests itself. She asked me about my memory and completing tasks. I laughed... what memory? In fact in college I had to get an MRI of my brain because there were things I was doing that I literally had zero recollection of doing- setting up study sessions, conversations with people. The neurologist found nothing wrong and basically said I might have been having silent migraines that caused this, but that was rare. Apparently, issues with memory are a big part of ADHD. Suddenly, I felt relief. Everything I thought was a quirk about me, everything that annoyed my husband, my mother, my friends- things they learned to accept about me... was this disorder.

Then came the scarier words. Hypomania and Bipolar II Disorder. How could that be me? How could my brain be that messed up? Certainly I wasn't that crazy? My knowledge of bipolar disorder was limited to the stigma and my addiction to the show Shameless. I was able to function well even with this disorder. My hypomania manifested it self in endless energy. Thankfully I had used it to my advantage and just started exercising. I ended up losing 50 pounds and 5 pants sizes in a year and a half. I felt like my hard work was diminished knowing I didn't do it alone. My hypomania was running the show. I still struggle with this from time to time. I will not let this label run me.

I am a bisexual, bipolar woman with ADHD and an anxiety disorder. I am a mom. I am a wife. I am a photographer. I am so many more things than my labels. Why I was so scared to bring these labels to light, I am not sure. Even typing out this post, my heart is in my throat. These posts are as much for me as they are for anyone struggling. We shouldn't have to live in fear of our labels.

Erin BerryComment