I remember watching G.I. Joe A Real American Hero cartoon back in my childhood. It wasn’t one of my favorite tv shows but I distinctly remember watching it as it usually came on right after Transformers. Each episode ended with a public service announcement that included the tagline “knowing is half the battle.”
Today I increased my knowledge by a lot. I have been facing a demon for several years I couldn’t quite put a name to. Several years ago an inexperienced college therapist student diagnosed me with borderline personality disorder. She based in on my symptoms and the information I gave her at the time. Obviously as I was still hiding in the closet in regards to my transgender queer identity she didn’t have all the information. Thus the diagnosis was incomplete and not very helpful.
Fast forward to today. After months of intense emotional swings I finally hit rock bottom. I sunk into the deepest low I have faced in ages. This resulted in me quitting my job which continued the downward spiral I was on. Yesterday I couldn’t get out of bed I was literally too depressed to move. I haven’t been that down in a very long time. That prompted me to call the crisis line on the back of my insurance card. Fortunately the counselor recognized my need for answers. She helped schedule me an appointment with a mental health professional who gave me the answers I was seeking.
Today I learned I have bipolar disorder. It is a mental heath disease I have apparently been facing, largely alone, nearly my entire life. Once she was confident in her diagnosis she began giving me treatment options that included medication she wanted me to try. I have spent the last several hours reading up on the disorder on various websites and forums. My god here I am reading other people’s accounts and I could swap their names with my own and those stories fit damn near perfectly. Everything makes more sense now. Everything is so much clearer.
Even though I had previously been told I had PTSD, anxiety and depression, my newest professional supporter pointed out those were symptoms. She also pointed out that BPD and Bipolar share similar symptoms which is why she felt my previous counselor misdiagnosed me. Having a family history cemented it for her for sure.
Now that I have ready what others describe their own experiences I can rest a little easier. I am still in the lows of my depressive episode right now, that isn’t likely to subside anytime soon if past episodes are any indicator. Yet somehow finally having an answer, name I can attach to my demons, gives me a tremendous sense of relief. When she told me it was bipolar she said it unflinchingly. In that exact moment I burst into tears. Not because I was sad or depressed but because I was relieved to have confirmation. I now have an action plan which gives me hope for a better life.
The mere fact I have suffered with this disease for over 30 years of my life is surely a testament to my resolve. Upon reading the list of symptoms across multiple sources I felt I was reading a checklist of my entire life. Every mood swing I have had, every crazy adventure or quest I have sprung into over night, every single wild and crazy idea I half-baked then jumped into knee deep unprepared, now makes sense.
My entire life has been rebranded yet again. Fortunately I now know what to call my enemy. As Duke and friends used to say “knowing is half the battle.” I fought the first half in the dark, alone for decades. Now I can win this fight knowing who my enemy is.