Friday, September 2, 2011

Writing or Ranting?

I started a pretty good little blog entry today about whether anti-depressants actually cause ADHD or if I just have ADHD to go along with all of my other diagnoses. Unfortunately, that blog entry turned into a rant against my original psychiatrist, who had me on so many medications that I was spending all day in front of the television with drool running down my chin, running into walls when I tried to walk, and insisting I could do scrapbooking and other crafts after taking ambien and then having to rip everything apart and start over when I realized whatever I was trying to make looked like a kindergartener's school project.

Since I think it's premature for me to rant about the records I just received from my first psychiatrist, I am saving what I wrote for a later date, to be cleaned up and made available for your consumption. It's important to know what to look for in a mental health care provider, so I think knowing what not to agree to in treatment is valuable knowledge that I can perhaps share. But first I have to get over being really pissed at this guy for medicating me into the stratosphere and then calling me non-compliant and speculating that I might have borderline personality disorder because I didn't want to try all of the anti-psychotic drugs he kept pushing me to take. (For the record, my current psychiatrist promises me I am not borderline. I have never had a psychotic episode, so I did not see the need for those particular drugs to be in my medication cocktail.)

I will say that finding the right treatment for mental health issues is just as hard as finding a good primary care doctor or pediatrician and requires just as much thought and searching. I had two psychiatrists before finding the one I go to currently and I saw the first one for five years. During those five years, he medicated me so much that people I was close to say they didn't even recognize me. I know I finished my bachelor's degree during that time (with honors), but I honestly don't remember much about doing it. I also think that part of the reason I was only accepted into one master's program was because I just wasn't coherent enough to do well on either the applications or at the interviews. Which worked out okay, because I had already wracked up enough student debt to last us longer than our current mortgage. I might have it paid off by the time I'm 90, but I kind of doubt it.

One thing I learned from all of this is that you shouldn't take out student loans unless it's absolutely necessary. I now have a son who is a sophomore in college and we are working out a way to pay for his tuition without increasing our very own mountain of debt. I think we've done quite well, but his agreeing to go to the community college for the first two years has been immensely helpful. If you have kids who want to get a college education, I highly recommend that transfer degree program from your local community college. You get two years of tuition at greatly reduced rates, the kids get their general education requirements out of the way before going away to school, and they won't be looking at a pile of student loan debt when they finally graduate. (They do eventually graduate, right?)

At any rate, my original idea for today's blog obviously didn't work out so well. And that's okay. I never know where my writing is going when I start and since that is also the way Stephen King works when he writes his novels, I think that's just fine.

I will reassure you that even though I kind of ditched almost every strong medication that guy had me on, I am still medicated for your protection and promise not to do anything out of the ordinary if you want to get together and have lunch. The fact of the matter is that if someone you know has bipolar disorder, most likely you might just think that they are a little touchy or seem depressed a lot of the time. Most people would never guess I have bipolar disorder (unless they are subjected to my constant talking for more than an hour or more). And that's where fighting this stigma comes in. We need decent psychiatric care, good therapy, the knowledge of how our illness affects us and the people we love so that we can do things to mitigate any damage, and erasure of the stigma that goes along with mental illness.

I hate that the media is automatically assigning a bipolar diagnosis to any famous person who jumps off the deep end. That's the job for a professional and just adds to everything we are fighting to overcome. The Charlie Sheens of this world are making us look bad and to my knowledge, he hasn't even seen a mental health professional.

If only we were a little less fascinated with what famous people are doing, the media might back off on the lay person's diagnoses and the word "bipolar" might have less of a scare factor to it. Then again, when a famous person gets diagnosed with something by a real doctor, it brings awareness of the illness to the general public and people are more likely to realize if someone they love is exhibiting mental illness symptoms. So it's a double edged sword we are dealing with here.

And since I'm not sure I have a point, I think it's time to go check on my Words With Friends games and maybe have some lunch.


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