Personal Stories

A Correct Diagnosis

01.03.17

My name is Catherine. I live in Racine, WI, and have for most of my life. Born in 1989, I was raised in a loving home with my mother and adopted father. I gained a sibling, and I went through life like any normal person. Sure, I dealt with bouts of depression here and there, but according to my mother, that was just a phase everyone went through. Everyone got depressed. Everyone had thoughts of killing themselves. Right…?

It wasn’t until I was in my early twenties that it really got rough. I spent a year and a half in a depressive state, during which I gave birth to my son. it wasn’t until my boy was a year and a half old that I finally broke. I had a full on break down, and I admitted myself into the partial hospitalization program at the local mental hospital. I spent two weeks there. They decided I had depression with anxiety. I was assigned a psychiatrist and a therapist. The therapist helped, but the psychiatrist didn’t. To be fair, she was buried under more cases than she could handle, but that didn’t help my mental state. I fought with her for two and a half years until I became suicidal twice over and was admitted to the intensive inpatient mental program at the same hospital. I spoke with the on-site psychiatrist, and she finally gave me the proper diagnosis I’d been fighting for: bipolar II. Before this, my psychiatrist had diagnosed me with PTSD, depression with anxiety, borderline personality disorder, everything but what I was actually dealing with.

Armed with this new, accurate diagnosis, I was able to get the treatment I needed; combination medications and therapy. I got on the right medications, though not in time. I was still experiencing extreme lows that made me lose custody of my son, get evicted from my two bedroom apartment and almost lose my job. My finances went awry, and everything seemed to spiral out of control.

Now, after a couple of months of the right medication, therapy and actively working to improve, I can see a light at the end of the tunnel. I’m not fully recovered or stable, but I’m getting there. I feel like, had I been listened to, had my concerns and comments been considered, I would have gotten a proper diagnosis earlier. It wouldn’t have gotten this bad. And instead of battling the system to get my son back, I’d be playing with him in the snow at his favorite park. Had my psychiatrist not been over worked, she may have listened and not pushed my thoughts and comments aside.

We need to get more information out there. We need to educate people, ourselves and not settle for anything less than what is right and true. Even professionals can make mistakes; it’s called a ‘practice’ for a reason. But with that being said, we need to talk with those whom have vowed to help make us better on equal ground. Consider all options and seek the help of those who are willing to listen to what you have to say instead of shrugging off your concerns.

I know that this was a long read, so thanks if you stuck it out! I feel lucky in my situation, because I was educated and kept being persistent in my mental health. I ask you to do the same. Educate yourself as much as you possibly can, then bring this education to the table. Discuss with your family, friends and healthcare professionals. It could save your life.

 


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