Blogtober 2018, Mental Health, Personal Update, Saturday Share

Saturday Share: Diagnoses and Other Things That Happened This Week

Well, the upswing was great while it lasted.

Monday and Tuesday were particularly rough for me. I barely got out of bed on Monday and on Tuesday I skipped school because I just felt… so very not okay. Pup came over and we went to a movie (“Bad Times at the El Royale”… it was alright).

On Wednesday I retail-therapied the shit out of myself, but we all know that’s not a long-term solution. I have a really bitchin’ walking stick for the next time I go hiking (which will be–what?–the third time in my life I’ve been hiking, I think?). I also bought some new crystals for my collection, because obviously I don’t have enough.

Pup and I had a fun conversation about what I would do if I won the CA Mega Million lottery, which is at something like $900,000,000. We figure take-home after taxes would be about $400,000,000. I guess I’d be okay with that. So, what would I do with FOUR-HUNDRED-MILLION DOLLARS, you ask?

Turns out, I don’t have any idea. Money is a weird thing to think about when you’re poor. The lottery to a poor person is like a dog chasing a car; yea, it’s fun to think about, but if I ever got it I wouldn’t know what to do with it. Some of the things I threw out there:

  • Buy a house. I would buy myself a nice house up in the Bay area. Somewhere in a forested area, but still close enough to the city that I could get wifi and cable. I would pay cash for it.
  • I would buy houses for my family and friends. My mom and my dad, so they could retire in peace and enjoy their old age without constantly worrying about work and paying the bills and crap. My brother and his family, because there’s six of them in their apartment and just–no. Those boys are teenagers and need their own rooms. Pup, because I literally would not be alive if not for him. My surrogate little sister and her partner–I would move her ass out to California to study all the fishies she wants (she has a Master’s Degree in I believe environmental biology).
  • Pay off the student debt of literally everyone I know.
  • I’d make a stupid big donation to the church I go to. Stupid big. Like maybe a million dollars big. I don’t know what sort of legal things might be in place, if I even could make a donation that size, but for real. Stupid big.
  • I’d put probably put $10,000,000 in a high-yield savings account and live off the interest.
  • Donate to all the charities.
  • Fund a movie I want to see made. Maybe fund the foolish attempt to get The Last Jedi remade just for shits n gigs. (Like, I know it was a bad movie, but seriously?)

Even after all that, I’d probably still have money left over. $400,000,000 is such an absurd amount of money. I can’t even fathom having that kind of money.

So, Wednesday had some serious up moments punctuated by some serious down moments. It was like, once I was up and moving, I was good. But, the second we got home and stopped, I was just gone again.

On Thursday, I had my therapy appointment at school. For those who aren’t aware (because I’m not sure if I’ve mentioned it here), I started attending mental health services offered through Student Health Services at the school. I pay a health services fee every semester, I decided I’d get my money’s worth. Also, at my math teacher’s behest, I’ve been working with my social worker/therapist to get registered with Disability Support Programs and Services (DSPS) due to my anxiety and depression.

Remember those? I was diagnosed with depression in high school, although looking back I’m not sure if I was ever officially diagnosed with anxiety. No matter, because I was re-diagnosed on Thursday.

After a few questions, and filling out some questionnaires, my social worker (who is incredible, by the way–I love her to death) looked at me and said, “I’m pretty sure you have post-traumatic stress disorder.”

Via Giphy

We went down another check list to be sure. “Yes, yes, yes, no, yes, yes, yes, yes, not as much recently, yes.”

The diagnosis itself didn’t really surprise me. My childhood was… not great. My brother was very violent with me growing up, and combined with some other things which have happened in my life PTSD seems very logical. I’ve long suspected my depression and anxiety were symptoms of a larger underlying condition.

The thing is, none of my previous therapists ever brought it up. Maybe it’s because I was young and they didn’t want to diagnose a preteen or teenager with such a heavy condition.

And it is heavy. It was really jarring to hear. PTSD. That’s some serious shit.

I mean, depression and anxiety aren’t anything to sneeze at. They’re also really common. Most people experience depression and anxiety in some form(s) throughout their lives. There’s a lot of information on them. They’re more easily manageable, more easily understood.

PTSD is… something different. PTSD is relatively new in the psychological world. There isn’t as much information. It’s not as common as depression and anxiety. I would argue there’s more stigma around it than depression and anxiety, because it’s not as common. Depression and anxiety are often unfairly dismissed as “minor” (though we all know they’re anything but) because they’re so common. Until Thursday, I didn’t realize what a comfort that dismissal was.

PTSD comes with a whole new set of problems beyond depression and anxiety. Anger, nightmares, flashbacks–check, check, check. Those things come with more stigma. More work to get through. And there’s a piece of paper in a file at school with my name on it that says those words: Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.

Actually, what it says is: “Moderate-severe depression with anxious symptoms, post-traumatic-stress disorder, signs of agoraphobia”

Oh yea, I’m mildly agoraphobic, too.

It’s really weird to have thought for so long, “I have these things. They suck, but I manage them pretty well, most of the time.” When in reality I’ve had this other thing and I haven’t been managing certain aspects of it at all.

I was excused from class, so I went home. I told my mother, because I thought that would be something she’d want to know and it seemed like one of those things it would be better to talk about than let her read on my blog. Go figure.

I don’t think she really knew how to take it, because she laughed at first. Maybe she thought I was joking. Maybe she thought I thought it was absurd. Maybe it’s just scary to know that one of your kids abused your other kid so bad that it still hinders their life at age thirty.

She asked me what could have given me PTSD and I wanted to scream. My older brother’s abuse of me isn’t something that’s talked about and when it is it’s usually met with quick sympathy and swept under the rug. I don’t think my mother has ever used the word “abuse” in regards to it (because who really wants to admit their kid had an abusive childhood), although she did admit that she told my brother’s wife he used to “beat [me] up really bad as a kid” in explanation of why my brother and I aren’t close.

I don’t want anyone to think my mother didn’t try to stop it. She did what she could. She yelled at him, she took him to therapy… but she was a single mother, with not a lot of help from her ex, who had to work fourteen-hour days to support her kids. She can’t stop something she’s not there to stop. She had to choose between monitoring her kids’ every moves and making sure we weren’t homeless. She chose making sure we weren’t homeless and I don’t fault her for that. I know she hated that my brother and I fought so hard.

I also don’t want anyone to think my mother dismissed my diagnosis. She didn’t. She just didn’t know how to react in those first few seconds. Once she realized I was being serious and taking it seriously, she immediately asked if there was anything she needed to do, anything she could do. There’s not, really. I need regular, long-term therapy, so I’m working with my social worker at school to find a therapist who will take my Medi-Cal insurance. I’m thirty; I handle my own medical insurance, I get myself to/from school. There’s a finite amount of stuff that can be done at the moment and I’m taking care of it.

I’m still processing the information. It’s a lot to take it, as I’m sure you can imagine.

On Friday I worked on some craft projects. That was fun.

So, that was my week. What has everyone else been up to?

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11 thoughts on “Saturday Share: Diagnoses and Other Things That Happened This Week”

  1. It’s a tough diagnosis to accept, for me I always associated PTSD with soldiers who’d experienced seriously traumatising warfare, however once you know more about it you may find that (like me) so much makes sense about your life and how you’ve become the person you are.
    To live in a state of fear for a long time affects the way you view the world, affects trust, confidence, patience, it has many long lasting symptoms – depression, anxiety and agoraphobia included.
    I feel that my whole adult life has been coloured by the trauma I’d experienced when younger, it’s only now that I’m beginning to unravel it all and reinvent myself. I am glad to have the diagnosis as it has helped me to understand myself better, and to accept my difficulties in the context of trauma and to move on.
    I wish you well xx

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you for sharing. I agree, what I’ve experienced in the past has definitely had a profound effect on my present and how I’ve become the person I am. I’m also glad to have the diagnosis, so now I can figure out how to better manage some of what I deal with.

      Thank you again for your comment!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. It really breaks my heart to know much heartache your childhood caused you then and how it still haunts and causes you heartache now. I wish that there was more that I could have done to protect you, I’m so sorry that I failed you then. I love you with all my heart although I know that really doesn’t help you cope I do want you to know that.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. I had an uncle who had shell shock from all that he witnessed on the front in WWII. My memories of him are of a badly broken man. Shell shock is, essentially, PTSD. Same thing, different era. I wasn’t surprised at my own diagnosis of PTSD; I, too, was badly abused by a brother and that just plain messes you up for life. No biggie, except of course it’s horrible. Also high functioning agoraphobic, here. I’m trying to not let my PTSD and other mental health issues hold me back. Except, of course, they do. Oh, hey. It’s time to drive to therapy.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. It’s definitely rough to deal with. I try not to let my mental health issues hold me back, either. But it’s just unavoidable sometimes. I finally realized I can’t deal with it myself and sometimes I need help, so I reached out. Fingers crossed that I’ll learn some way to deal with it. Because honestly, I just haven’t been dealing with it well.

      Liked by 3 people

      1. PS I don’t want to speak out of turn or sound like I am minimising or disagreeing with what you said but I read some stuff about PTSD a week or so before reading your post and got the impression there are now a lot of, or more than I realised, young women being diagnosed and talking about PTSD on Twitter and talks in person, so I hope you will come across supportive people/info as you go. The thing that got me reading was this, it is a nice story I found by accident:

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Thanks for sharing that! There are a lot of people with PTSD who are open about speaking about their struggles. I definitely know there are support communities out there, for sure.

          Perhaps my wording wasn’t very clear. When I say that PTSD is relatively new and less common than my previous diagnosis, I mean that PTSD was only added to “the book” in the late-70’s or 80’s and was most commonly associated with soldiers returning from war. It’s only been within the last 40-50 years that psychologists have been applying it to civilians, compared to disorders like depression which have been in the books much longer and civilians are more likely to be diagnosed with them compared to something like PTSD. PTSD is still often misconstrued as a “soldier’s disorder,” even within the psychological community, and since depression and anxiety are both symptoms of PTSD, depression and anxiety are the more common diagnoses (even if they’re not entirely accurate, like in my case). I didn’t mean to imply that I think there aren’t many people/civilians dealing with PTSD or that my options are limited in regards to support, only that there is more information on more commonly diagnosed disorders like depression and anxiety.

          Liked by 1 person

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