Trigger Warning: (2/5)
Learn what a “session splash” is.
this will be a long one again, because i did another double session. i will most likely do double’s going forward for as long as i can afford it (two hour sessions). it seems that i do not get into the real meat of the matter until i have had some time to open up, gather my words and my nerve.
we talked about diagnosis, for a few different reasons. i am concerned because my therapist feels that i am not bipolar because i have operated on this assumption for the last 5-10 years. i have always been about 80% sure of the diagnosis, which is a big percentage of uncertainty for me. meaning it has always weighed heavily on my mind that maybe bipolar didn’t quite fit me, but it felt close enough.
some reasons i feel that bipolar might not be correct is because not a single medication i tried ever worked, except to make me tired or a little less depressed. if manic depression is a chemical imbalance, i should have been able to find a chemical that helped at least a little. i also noticed that my manic periods are usually not as intense as some other bipolar’s i know, but my depression certainly is as deep. i do have an intuitive knowing that if bipolar is not right, something close is, because i definitely experience bouts of mania and depression, that last for weeks or more each.
however, i do trust my therapist and am taking her opinion into full consideration. her opinion is that the best fit is simply PTSD. the process of diagnosis has been so frustrating for me! the first therapist i saw told me that i was schizophrenic, and during our first session together! my second told me i was one type of bipolar, the next, another type of bipolar. next it was borderline personality disorder, then back to bipolar again (third type!), and now PTSD. i understand that many of these diseases/conditions appear similar, but shouldn’t someone know?
am i supposed to know? because i feel like PTSD just isn’t strong enough, that it isn’t ‘messed up’ or ‘crazy’ enough. my mind seems to be breaking lately, i see things, have trouble interpreting facial expressions and emotions, and hear voices in my head, sometimes even refering to myself as ‘we.’ the voices seem to know things that i don’t, have access to memories that i don’t, have emotions that i can’t feel.
how can all this be explained by PTSD? it just feels wrong, and incomplete. i am extremely terrified of being either schizophrenic (because my biological mother is) or of having dissociative identity disorder (because i wonder if i could fix my mind/self in this lifetime?). my brain keeps looking at DID, is fascinated about it and maybe wants me to have it? i don’t know, but my thoughts will not let it go…
all this said about diagnosis, my therapist assured me that it doesn’t matter. not that it doesn’t matter what specifically is wrong with me, but that my diagnosis does not change the course of our therapy. this did make me feel better, although it was my assumption. she also asked me what having a diagnosis means to me? for me it is like a sense of community…knowing my disease. it gives me a structure or format, lets me know what medications and coping tools to try first, and allows me to empathize with others with the same plight. i guess i know need to get to know PTSD like i have bipolar over the last few years. ugh!
we next stepped deeper into talking about dissociation, and the dissociation ‘spectrum’. i had a lot of trouble here, because i really wanted to ask my therapist directly if i have/had DID, but was too terrified. i was able to express i was afraid of being diagnosed with schizophrenia or DID, as i noted above, which she said i do not. she said very directly “No.” but it just didn’t resonate, did not sink in, and i don’t believe her. i think she is lying to me because i could not handle the truth, because it would break my brain. i know it wouldn’t change the course of my life (or therapy) but it feels important…i could not express this to her though.
so instead we talked about the dissociation spectrum, which i had read this post the week before. my therapist agreed with the spectrum i believe, but i just printed it and will bring it in to my next session to actually show to her. i think i still need more clarification of what each step in the spectrum is and it’s related symptoms, and if my symptoms really do fit PTSD.
there are a few symptoms that i am the most concerned with. the first is the fact that i use dissociation so regularly, probably daily, and so well (deep). for example, i told her about what it takes for me to work. i have a lot of trouble getting myself to do my job on a daily basis, especially when i have to go to a clients office (usually in their home). i’m not exactly aware of how i get into the state, just that it takes me a lot of convincing to get myself to go to work, and once i do i feel like a shell of a person, like a robot. my brain tunes out, and i have been told my voice changes, my speaking mannerism, and my body language. i am aware of what goes on and know i am there when working, but feel like my brain gives ‘me’ a report at the end of the day, giving me a synopsis of events. it very odd and unsettling, akin to the feeling of a panic attack.
my therapist asked if this feels like highway hypnosis, but it is nothing alike. i have experienced that, but when that happens the time is totally gone and i cannot remember anything: what exits i passed, what scenery, how much time passed, what i might have said or listened to on the radio, etc. it also ‘feels’ different; it is not scary, seems normal, and does not make me feel abnormal in any way. dissociation does make me feel odd and ‘off’, and gives me an icky feeling in my stomach.
the second symptom that most concerns me is the voices in my head. as far as i know, people do have voices in their head, but they are all that persons voice, or close. i have actual separate voices in my head that seem to have distinct, although not whole, personalities. they also seem to hold memories, thoughts and feelings i do not have access to, like i mentioned earlier.
this really scares me and has recently gotten really bad (it was also bad when i was younger, and i called them ‘potato voices’ or the ‘potato people’ then). there are times the youngest (4-6 year old) voice taunts me with auditory things i do not like, such as the song “Toy Soldiers” being repeated over and over in my head. it is a nightmare! but however horrific it gets, i know that there is a reason these things are bubbling up. i trust my brain to not give me more than i can handle, or try to! i feel these tauntings are because i ignored my own feelings, thoughts and my soul for so long.
the 4-6 year old voice is the worst. my therapist asked me what i could do, like when getting ready to go to work, to make this voice happy. she doesn’t want anything though and cannot be bribed with gifts, treats or even sweets! i believe and feel she wants nothing more than to be heard, to be able to share her experiences, to simply be able to speak and be heard by ‘me.’
my therapist also asked me how this voice feels? this almost brought me to tears, because i cannot stand to feel it, cannot stand to listen to this little voice. i am so afraid of what she might say, of how she might feel, of how deep and dark she is for someone so young. she has experienced too much. i am afraid that if i listen i will temporarily be taken out of the ‘game’ of life, or might finally give in to the temptation of suicide. the feelings that reside in this little one are so dark, so black, and are at the center of the oozy, tar-like feeling in the pit of my stomach.
we next talked about a tarot card like project that i have mentioned in A previous session splash. this project involves making a card for each voice in my head, with pictures, symbols, etc. to represent each one. i like magazine collage, so that is what i stuck with. we spent the last part of the session going through my therapist’s box of loose magazine cutouts, collecting pictures for each individual voice. i brought these home with me to expand the piles with my own magazines, and have since finished one of the cards.