Two posts in as many days? By golly, it’s a pre-Christmas miracle! God bless us, every one! Give a bitch her laptop back and suddenly she thinks she’s David Foster Wallace!
I’m currently at work, waiting out the last 30 minutes of my shift before I can go home and probably over-analyze things that have happened today because that is, as the kids say, what I do.
Back in October, after having been on five different medications since March of this year, and always questioning my original diagnosis of Bipolar 2, I sought out a psychologist to do a mental health assessment to help determine what exactly is wrong with me…brain-wise, that is, and even that is a crapshoot.
I ended up taking the MMPI-2 test, which is the most widely used among head doctors. It is 600 questions of fun and took about 2 hours to answer; not because the questions were difficult or anything, but after a while, you start second-guessing yourself due to repeated questions, but in slightly different wording. It’s actually quite like the often poo-poo’ed Myers Briggs personality tests (INFP, thankyouverymuch), which I mean, yeah, that test is goofy, and admittedly, so was the MMPI-2, but if it can be used to help me manage my medications, aka find the right fucking kind of medication for fucking goddamn fucking once, I’m all for spending 2 hours on a couch in my shrink’s office.
A few days after I took it, I got told I needed further testing because this test can apparently tell when you’re flubbing the system and will render it invalid. I didn’t do that, but some of my answers were so wild in comparison to other questions, I had to come back in and chat with the psychologist a little more so she could make a more educated evaluation of me.
She started asking me questions like “do you think you’re overly particular about your personal space?” and “does it make you upset when someone borrows something of yours and doesn’t return it in the exact same spot?” The more of these types of questions she asked me, I was hip to her OCD jive and even said so to her. Hey there, lady; what are you getting at here? Can I wash my hands a few times real quick? (kidding.)
After talking with me for an hour, she said she’d have her preliminary report done in a week and come in for feedback. Okay! I was morbidly curious about it. I mean, I knew depression and anxiety would be the biggest winners of the day, but what additional piece would present itself?
As expected, I am the proud owner of a major depressive disorder of the recurrent type, generalized anxiety disorder, and drum roll please…I display several traits of obsessive compulsive personality disorder. I also have a highly addictive personality. At first she tossed out “schizo-effective disorder” and I think she saw the panic in my eyes because she quickly countered with “I don’t think you’re schizophrenic. I think your GAD (ultra-hip psych talk) is the main root of your problems with your mood.”
Ya think? Or like how I cannot wind my brain down even the slightest bit which leads to over-processing pretty much anything and everything in my life : “oh my god, he didn’t “like” my Facebook picture he hates me what did I do to make him hate me oh my god I bet it was that one time two years ago where I said something and he’s still mad at me about it and is just too polite to say it hurt his feelings but obviously he’s still upset about it otherwise he would have liked this picture and now I guess I’ll just go kill myself because what good am I to anyone at this point?” I’m sure you’re laughing, but this is pretty much exactly what I think. This is not an over-exaggeration in the least. This is 100% Erin Thought (registered trademark).
Generally speaking, I think too goddamn much, I convince myself I am right about what I’m thinking about, which leads to anxiety. There’s a fine line between being worried about something for valid reasons and being worried about things because you thought about it and have convinced yourself it’s true. I tend to face plant over that line on the reg.
She asked me how I felt therapy was going, and I like to think it’s helpful. I mean, I don’t go visit Therapist once a week just because I want to hang out. She’s cool and all, and I’m sure she’s a hoot on a personal level, but I am going to get help because I was tired of feeling shitty. I know my brain isn’t right and I want help to try to correct behaviors and coping mechanisms and deal with grief and all that other happy crappy.
I did, however, mention that I do find it somewhat difficult at times because of this pesky talking problem I have, repeating the “I can tell you want to say something, but physically stop yourself from doing so” thing, and she nodded knowingly. I hate it when people do that. I like to think I’m some complex creature with an impenetrable stone and steel wall with razor wire on top built up around me that people are left befuddled by me, but I also don’t have a very good poker face, and I give myself away. Goddamn it!
I felt the need to elaborate on why it’s so fucking tricky to get me to open up and talk.
“Feeling vulnerable?” she asked.
GODDAMN IT. STOP KNOWING WHAT MY ISSUES ARE WITHOUT ME TELLING THEM TO YOU FIRST, YOU PHD IN PSYCHOLOGY. FUCK!
I nodded, feeling tears start to form. I had to quickly take a drink of my lukewarm coffee to keep me from crying. After I regained my composure, I added this:
“I constantly think about what I want to say, but don’t say it because I’m afraid I’ll sound stupid or my thoughts don’t matter. When I was married, it was extremely difficult trying to talk to my ex-husband because he always made me feel like my thoughts were invalid. If a topic didn’t interest him, or wasn’t about something he was interested in, he’d ignore me or give curt one word replies. I just learned to not talk to him anymore.”
Sadly, this habit never went away, and also why whenever I do talk or text, I end up apologizing for “rambling” because again, I trained myself to assume everyone is like my ex-husband and is bored out of their skulls by me and wishes I would shut the fuck up already because no one cares, Erin. I want that to go away because whenever I am able to talk, I actually kind of enjoy it. It’s nice to not be ignored when I’m speaking, or being made to feel like what I have to say is inconsequential or small.
This shed some further light to Sally Psychologist (not her real name) and she asked if therapy was focused more on insight, as in trying to determine why I am the way I am, and I said yes. She asked if that was helpful for me. I said no because due to constant thinking, I’m fairly self-aware of why I do things, or at least I like to think so. She suggested ACT therapy, or “Acceptance and Commitment Therapy, as a unique empirically based psychological intervention that uses acceptance and mindfulness strategies, together with commitment and behavior change strategies, to increase psychological flexibility.”
In other words, take responsibility for why I am the way I am and instead of making myself feel like shit about it (you dumb bitch, why can’t you just open your goddamn mouth and speak?), acknowledge it (hey, you’re not talking again. How’s come?), and make a plan of attack to fix it (‘Member how you said it feels productive and positive to talk? Hey, do that shit). So simple, yet so fucking terrifying because of that motherfucking “vulnerability” word.
Oh, I’m also incredibly self-deprecating. Surprise!
Another major point she brought up is the addictive personality, which manifests itself in two ugly ways: smoking (duh) and drinking. She expressed concern for the drinking. She probably has valid reason to do so. I typically don’t drink during the week, with some exceptions. I save my booze for the weekend, and I make up for lost time. Full disclosure: I drink to get drunk. Past alcohol abuse and the fact I’m 70 pounds overweight means my tolerance has been built up, so it takes a lot of liquor to get me drunk, which far exceeds the normal, safe amount. I can’t drink one or two drinks and feel satisfied. I have to be that happy, chatty, word-slurry drunk.
But Erin, did you know alcohol is a depressant?
I do know! And I also know that drinking while on antidepressants is basically like taking a pill in my mouth and immediately spitting it out. It’s counterproductive. And yes, I make myself feel like shit the next day when I berate myself for drinking that much. She suggested either drastically cutting back on drinking, or abstinence from it. I have to say that I agree. With what method is yet to be decided, but I am willing to try anything.
Needless to say, I have some massively hard work ahead of me and it’s freaking me out. You mean to tell me I have to make myself communicate more and reduce my alcohol intake? *insert me flipping a table over here*
But…I want to do this stuff. I want to be able to talk without fear of being made fun of. I want to be able to wake up on a Saturday morning and not hate myself for the drinks I had the night before. I want this old dog to learn some new tricks instead of shrugging my shoulders in a “welp, that’s just the way it’s always gonna be!” way.
I am glad I did this assessment, as silly as it might seem to some. “You paid someone to tell you what you already knew?” Well…yeah, but sometimes it’s nice to have a much better understanding of what’s going on with my brain and hopefully be given the help and care I need to correct the more infuriating traits I have.
And there you have it.
As always, thank you for reading.