Sorting Out My Mental Health Diagnoses

Sorting Out My Mental Health Diagnoses

Living Life with CP

I can’t believe I’ve been away from my column for two months. These last two months were the longest I have gone without writing for at least two years. I have never been more ready to be back.

I got a new diagnosis. It isn’t anything serious, but it was probably the ultimate validation for me. I’ve struggled with my mental health for a long time. I think anyone with a disability can relate to there being some pretty rough waters when trying to navigate a world that often is not fit for them. Today, I think anyone, period, can relate to struggling for love and self-acceptance, especially in a world of Instagram filters.

So, I wasn’t alarmed when I started to not feel like myself. I knew that it was probably depression, as I was pretty stressed out. It was basically still winter here, so that might have contributed. I knew that I was struggling with my anxiety and had no doubt that it played a part in my everyday bad mood.

I would wake up so overwhelmed the moment my alarm clock went off. I had a short fuse with everybody, and everything bothered me: every interaction, phone call, text message, email, every joke my family or friends tried to make … it all made me miserable. I couldn’t focus on anything. It was like brain fog times a million, but also with a lot of noise in my brain. I’m going to call it white noise because it was so bad that I had no idea what the voice inside my brain was saying 99 percent of the time.

I was having panic attacks even though I was on medication and working with my doctor to find a balance. I was lying awake all night even though I was taking melatonin for sleep. But even if I got sleep, I would still be completely exhausted the next day. But other times, I could be extremely productive and put all of this aside. I feared I was struggling with bipolar disorder — a diagnosis I had as a teenager.

I made an appointment with my doctor, gave him a brief on how I was feeling, and asked to see someone who isn’t a psychiatrist. I would need a psychiatrist’s services later, but there was a long waiting list.

I saw the doctor about a week later, and I told him about everything, including my previous diagnosis. He listened and offered his perspective. I was intimidated by him, but he was very in tune with me and what I needed to hear. It was tough love on day one. He surprised me by asking why I thought doctors gave me a bipolar diagnosis as a teenager. I told him I didn’t know, I had pretty much always felt the same way. I also said the “help” I received as a teenager was really just a stepping stone to get me to the next phase of life. The services I received then were situational, helping me to deal with the bullying I was going through at the time. I knew I had a lot of stuff left to deal with.

At the end of the session, he said that I have generalized anxiety disorder, finally putting a name to the anxiety I’ve had for years.

Additionally, what I was told was bipolar disorder for years was actually ADHD. I was stunned. I was nervous. I didn’t believe it. He prescribed me a non-stimulant to help me focus and said he would see me back in a month. When I got home, I googled the symptoms and realized they nailed me to a T.

When I started my new meds that night, everything in my head was completely quiet. I felt so much better so quickly, but it was also scary because I didn’t know what to do with myself now that I could think straight. I had to learn how to be with myself.

I’m writing this piece in defense of the doctor who you may not always feel is hearing you. As long as you know they are seeing you, trust you are in good hands.

By the way, I FINALLY graduated college! I got my bachelor’s in journalism from Pennsylvania University. It was a long five years. But I’m probably ready to write now more than ever. Also, I went on a vacation as a graduation present and one-year anniversary celebration with my boyfriend. It was the first time I traveled independently, so you know you’ll be hearing more about that soon.

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Note: Cerebral Palsy News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disorder. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Cerebral Palsy News Today or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to cerebral palsy.

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Hello, My name is Brittney and I am a columnist with Cerebral Palsy. I focus on writing about lifestyle and believe that everyone's experience is relevant, no matter the disability. I support, and advocate for, the mainstreaming and normalization of children with disabilities and their families, as well as advocating for parents and children who need to go the more specialized route. I hope that my content provides a positive reinforcement that it is possible to live a happy and fulfilled life even with a disability.

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