Black and Bipolar

Photo Credit: Google Image
June 2015

I finally made the appointment. But it was only because I promised Lala that I would. After taking several online tests to fake diagnose me, it was time to schedule an appointment and because I promised Lala I would. I like to keep my word.

I did some research to find who was closest to home, who specialized in what I looking to be potentially treated for, who was the most affordable since I don't have insurance, and who can prescribe me pills. Honestly, I was more concerned about who can prescribe me pills more than anything else.

The night before the appointment I was nervous. I've never done this before though I'm getting a Master's in this field. What was he going to say to me? What was I going to say to him? I rehearsed in my head what I would say when he asked what brought me here. I was this close to canceling my appointment. The day came and it was raining. Perfect. It was cloudy, gross, and wet outside. It didn't help that I didn't get any sleep the night before. It didn't help that I didn't want to be there. It didn't help that I wish it hadn't got to this point that I had to be there.

I went into his office in sat in one of the chairs. It was not what I pictured what the office would look like. But at least the chair was comfy. The icebreaker I rehearsed fell flat. All I could managed to say was that I promised my friend I would come here because I wanted to kill myself. How's that for an opening line?

After that followed a series of questions to which I answered honestly. It was a lot of questions. I did not like my answers. I wish I could've change them but then I would've been lying. I didn't like reliving the sins of my past. I didn't like being naked.

Once the questions were over and I no longer had to discuss my past and present issues, he proceeded to go to his white board to describe what he felt I had based on the DSM-V model. The charted detailed my general mood, which a little below average, that dipped low into depressive episodes often. But after those episodes, I return to my normal mood. He asked me if this was accurate. I told him no. He was only halfway there.

I explained to him that there are periods in which I am beyond my normal mood; beyond just having a simple good day. He extended our time and followed with a series of questions in which I said yes to (most of them) and others with detailed explanations. He erased what he originally drew another chart. This time he wrote the words mania and hypomania.

Upon seeing the words, I knew where he was going with this. My fake online tests already confirmed this. I personally confirmed this at age 19 when I first looked into and discussed it with my psych major friend. But having a professional confirm this was a whole different story.

"You fit the criteria for Bipolar II Disorder. Like to a T."

Great. Just fucking great.

I sat there numb unsure of what to say next. He wasnt supposed to confirm that. I was supposed to have major depressive disorder. I was supposed to just get antidepressants and be on my way. My fake online tests were not supposed to be surprisingly accurate.

Because I didn't know what to say, I followed up with: "So it's not Borderline Personality Disorder?" I asked because based on some of these tests, I concluded that it was either BP II or BDP with Major Depressive Disorder. I met the criteria for both. Apparently my doctor felt I did too. He explained the difference between the two being that they almost mirror each other.

"I see traits of BDP. It's seems to be very mild though. However, this is our first session so it could really be worse than what I'm seeing." He's right, it is worse. He told me books I can read BDP until our next session though I knew I severely had it. He was more focused on the Bipolar for that seemed to be the disorder greatly affecting me. Little did he know, the BPD was affecting me too. But there was not enough time in our session to discuss that illness.

He prescribed me some pills and scheduled my next appointment. I really had to come back I asked them. He said it was to see if the pills were working. If they were, then my appointments would be more spread out. So...I still have to come back here, I thought to myself. Great
.
I took my prescription and held back tears on my drive home.

As soon as I left the psychiatrist, I just wanted to go home. I was in a daze. I didn't feel anything. I didn't know what to feel. The whole session in itself felt surreal. I couldn't believe that I actually went to a psychiatrist. I couldn't believe the diagnosis though I believed I was for years. This couldn't be my reality.


On the drive home, I wondered how I would break the news to my mother. After years of researching and her dismissing my research claims, what would she say now? Would she finally believe that I was experiencing something beyond depression?

I didn't know what to say when I walked in the door. I usually plan these things. I even planned what I would say to the psychiatrist to start the conversation. But that didn't happened when I got to the session and that didn't happened when I came home. She asked how it went and I showed her the prescription.



"I have bipolar 2 disorder with borderline personality disorder traits," I told her.


"Are you serious? That was his real diagnosis?," she said in a 'I don't believe you' tone.

But I understood why she didn't believe me. For weeks, after the appointment was made, I told her I believed I was bipolar. I explained to her my research. I took multiple online tests that suggested that I did. During one of my researches, I stumbled upon Borderline Personality disorder and noticed I had several traits from that. I kept telling her I'm either bipolar, have borderline personality disorder, or BPD with major depressive order (didn't think I'd have BP2 AND BPD). I was serious in my diagnosis but she told me to see a professional because I'm not a doctor. No, I'm not a doctor but I know myself and I know something was wrong upstairs. It didn't help that I'm currently studying counseling and that some of these disorders do come up in my courses.


So I went to a professional like she told me to and that was the diagnosis. I had the prescription to prove it.  All she can say was: "well, now you know so just take your medication and you'll be okay." That wasn't the response I was looking for but my mother is not one for emotions. A gift and a curse.

I wanted to wait to say anything to anyone honestly. Part of me wanted to just keep it to myself. But I just wanted to get it out of my system. I did not want to drag this on.


"Black people don't get bipolar!" I exclaimed to my best friend after I sent her a surprise text of my diagnosis. She, along with many other people in my life did not know my mental battles or my internal struggles.  But there it was, out in the open. I, too, played into the stereotypes of black folk. We don't have these problems or so I thought. I felt like a hypocrite because here I am advocating left and right for mental health  in the black community and I can't even accept my own diagnosis. But it's different when it comes to yourself. I wasn't ashamed per se, but this wasn't supposed to happen to me. With all the other shit in my life, the last thing I wanted to be was crazy or at least labeled as crazy.


"There are a lot of black people who are bipolar. They just don't know it." - my best friend
.
Everyone I've told thus far has been supportive. As of now, I take medication, periodically see my psychiatrist, and find better ways to cope. I've identified what my triggers are and learning what steps and precautions I can take to keep my episodes at a minimum. I'm doing much better than I thought I would be and my moods so far have been stable.


I'm not crazy. At least not entirely.

Comments

  1. Thank you for sharing this with the world. Your story may seem like a drop in the bucket to millions of others but it is still so important. I'm glad you're seeking out what you need. <3

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