I am beginning the year of 2021 awaiting a Bipolar Depression diagnosis from my psychiatrist. I have seen this coming for a matter of months, perhaps. Peripherally, watching myself become more erratic, irritable, and generally just unable to calm my mood changes. It became really evident to me as I sat with my therapist one day and we had a pretty casual session since we had completed some EMDR the session before. I was anxious, hyper, talking in circles around different traumatic events in my life; interrupting my own thoughts with other situations that attached to the current event I was discussing. It was almost as if I was watching myself from up above, crashing into every emotion and event and spewing it like hot lava all over my therapist. As we said goodbye, I sat back and pondered the last 50 minutes in complete shock. I went for a walk to work off some of the nervous energy and realized how much chaos I had just allowed her to endure and almost felt ashamed but somewhat vindicated that maybe there’s an answer in all of this.
I began to research that night some of my inklings, recognizing them in myself and also the one who sent me to therapy in the first place: my mother. See, my mother also has Bipolar Depression. So really, I think I’ve just been avoiding the inevitable all along. I have been running from the demons of my past for so long because there’s just no way in hell that I wanted to have yet another thing in common with the person from which all of my trauma emanates.
In true, “shit happens” fashion, I came to the realization that this was the answer to most of the questions I had about the rut I constantly found myself in. The puzzle pieces flying over my head and fitting in perfect harmony with one another. So, I made an appointment for an annual visit with my new doctor. Unfortunately for me, but I guess in some ways fortunate, the doctor wanted to have a pre-appointment meeting where we discussed my history and concerns for my visit. Here’s the kicker, you know those depression evaluation forms they give you before each appointment which kind of seem innocuous? Well, I filled it out again thinking like with all visits, it would be ignored. To my utter surprise, I was given another form to rate my feelings again about the anxiety and depression I said I was facing on a nearly daily basis. Now, I have been in a doctor’s office probably 4-5 times in the last year and have filled out that same form the exact same way and never once was it brought up in those appointments. So, I was thinking this was just some form they give just for the hell of it. Well, luckily for me, this doctor saw the red flags and asked about my answers to the questions.
We sat there discussing my anxiety and depression, my eating habits which wane depending on those roller coasters of emotions, and the stomach issues that have occurred because of these comorbidities too. She agreed with my own conclusion that what I have long suspected was likely true. I was told to continue my therapy, of course and to seek a psychiatrist for confirmation and medication, if I so choose. Hearing it out loud and seeing my own suspicions validated made me feel a little sense of victory. Maybe now I could find a way out of my own mind and live a little in the real world with everyone else.
So, now we wait. I made an appointment with a psychiatrist who is booked until February—I bet due to the pandemic—and I will finally have some answers and an end in sight. Will I be completely cured? Absolutely not. But having answers, for me, is the hardest part of this entire journey. I have had intense cases of brain fog, trouble concentrating, and short term memory loss that has nearly doubled in severity over the last year. I have felt completely insane this past year because I haven’t been able to figure out the root of all my symptoms and haven’t had job security in years that would allow me the healthcare I needed to assess and diagnose these occurrences. (But surely, that’s another post for another day). It’s a little freeing and even more terrifying that this is a lifelong healing process that I won’t be able to fix quickly. But I am so grateful for the tools that I now have access to get the help I need.
So, if this were a post about how 2020 was for me and my hope about 2021, it would simply be that we would finally have universal healthcare in a country that neglects the people who need it most. So many of us are walking around with issues that could simply be solved by having access to consistent mental and physical healthcare—without it being tied to our jobs. My hope is that by the end of this year, we can discover that the issues we’ve brushed aside for lack of access can and will be addressed, properly diagnosed, and treated. May this be the year of our due justice and if anything, recompense for the year that was 2020.