I’ve been calling this #MyMentalIllnessJourney from the beginning. Why is that a thing? I wasn’t born with a mental illness. Or was I? That’s a question we’ll never know. Evidence shows my brain has been injured post childbirth. Since medically retiring from the Air Force in Oct 2016, I’ve had to learn how to become my own advocate. For man healthcare that is. The mlitary blinded me to the healthcare crisis America has been facing. Here I was newly a civilian, 90% disabled, with a fuckton a diagnoses that had to have a root cause. I knew it in my soul. I have too much wrong with me at, then 32, to not have an umbrella diagnosis to tie it all together. The last few years have been a struggle! I’ve needed regular medical care as well as mental health care. I do not function as a normal human being. The emotional baggage I bring to everyday situations has been holding me back for years. I walk around a tight ass fucking ball of anxiety! A cycstic pimple on the verge of rupture at the slightest wrong turn of a conversation. My fuse is consistenly short. I’m a terrible bitch to be around.
All this doesn’t bode well for someone that tends to seclude themselves in depression bouts. My therapist while active duty military had mentioined that Borderline Personality Disorder was written down in my file. Immedately I got defensive. I wanted to know where the note had come from! The inpatient doctor mentioned it in passing one day. During my 32 day stent that I checked myself into. Preparing for how I take in information, she immediately took down the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-4) and read to me, verbatem, the qualifications for such a diagnosis. I had a few of them but not nearly as many needed for the diagnosis. My therapist explained that I have been through trauma. That can mimic certain behaiviors. The point is how to overcome them so we escape the rate trap. This coversation was in 2016.
During my breakup with Henry, he mentioned that he thought had Borderline Personality Disorder. This was twice this label had been thrust on me. Maybe it did define me…So I did Denabear research. I dove into memoirs of people suffering from Borderline Personality Disorder. Doing so made me have a breakdown in which I labeled myself as one of their tribe. Self diagnosis has never helped anyone…especially a hypochondriac. It was this breakdown, coupled with the Novel Get Me Out of Here: My Recovery from Borderline Personality Disorder by Rachel Reiland that sparked a flood of flashbacks of my childhood. I don’t remember a lot my childhood. I had recently converted some home video tapes to DVD. That opened pandoras box to flashbacks. Up until then, I wasn’t aware that I couldn’t remember a large chunk of it! I’ve told a few people and they responded with shit I don’t remember my childhood either. Another dimishing of what the fuck I’m trying to say…this isn’t a a little forget. I blacked most of it out! They keep coming every other day or so.
I immediately stopped laying around waiting for a helping hand. Off to the Google! Where are therapists that take my insurance? I was matched up with a wonderful woman. She was really close to my house. I was going to see her weekly before classes at UCF. This is the therapist that propsed the 30 day break from Momster. I’d say this therapist broke the ice for my on what good therapy could be. Not the therapy I was getting at the base. I was watching what I would say, not being open. Not making progress. My sessions had gone from vent about my mom sessions to really working on the issues from the past that were rotting the very foundation I was trying to live my life on. However, this therapist takes a 3 month vacation every summer with her professor husband. She gave me the number of a colleage to take her place while she was gone. We’ve been working hard as fuck ever since.
Her sessions are no nonsense when I walk in that door. I cry damn near every session. I want to scream and throw things. I get so fucking frustrated with myself and my Alexithymia. It pisses me the fuck off! Wow the healing process and the powers of it all… Ok…so when I was retired I was slapped with Anxiety and Major Depressive Disorder as my diagnoses. Both of with are true. I was seeing my therapist in lieu of seeing a VA therapist. I pay a copay, don’t clog up the VA system, and can see my therapist when I need to. My meds doctor however was through the VA. And he didn’t want to listen to anything I had to say when it came to my meds. This is where I became my own advocate and searched the web for the best psychiatrist in the area. I scoured the Tricare site first and compared the search results against Health Grades and Yelp. Okay that’s a NO!…My mental health is serious to me…Worst fear is literally losing my mind #dementia #Alzheimers I’ve been off my damn cognitive game for years now! I’m a smart salty bitch. I was done playing around. Lets go out of insurance…
Enter my current psychiatrist. This woman is amazing and I love her approach. I can see how she can charge SO MUCH,…but the goal is to get her clients to a maintenance level so that they’re not spending much billable time with her. Just enough to renew prescriptions and check in. She’s like me. Seeing is believing. This is an issue in mental health care…Knowing what to look for in the brain. Then add insurance companies to the mix to pay for these tests…haha? Yea right! Her first question: Had I ever experienced any Traumatic Brain Injuries (TBI)? I gave her a look. Replied that I wasn’t deployed. She connected with my eyes and said you can get TBI from things other than deployment injuries. Let me ask it to you in this way? How many times have you hit your head? Oh shit well that’s a horse of a helluvah different color…
- There’s that time Henry and I rolled of a cliff in Hawaii. I was driving. I’m pretty positive I lost consciousness during the 3-4 time vehicle roll.
- I fell of a porch before the age of 5. I have a gnarly scar on my left eyelid. My parents always said I could have lost my eye.
- I fell down a flight of stairs and hit the back of my head while on coumadin for a year post pulmonary embolism.
- My brother tricked my into snowboarding down a black diamond on my first time EVER skiing. I took a Sony Bono head over heels tumble. Sans tree. I kinda feel like I was in and out of consciousness for the next 24 hours. All i remember was feeling like I got hit by a mac truck. At least that’s what I kept saying. The people on the ski lift above did a oooohhhhhh from above while I tumbled down.
It was here when she stopped me, picked up her jaw and started explaining how head AND EMOTIONAL trauma effects brain function immensly. She follows the work of Dr. Daniel Amen with his work on Brain SPECT Imaging. It was going to cost me $1800 to get this state of the art brain scan. No insurance. No VA. Little me that collects disability and retirement. All of which basically goes back into my medical costs. I was skeptical at first. This lady wanted to prescribe my brain meds off a brain scan instead of all willy nilly like the military. It actually made sense. The research behind this stuff is amazing. FUCKING LOOK INTO IT I TELL YA! So I decided what the fuck was there to lose? Nada! I gained some friends!
I met a few Vietnam vets that were waiting for their scans as well. They were enrolled in a study that sounded AMAZING! Of course I’ll tell you about it, Spanks for asking! You’re so polite! Manners make my world go ’round! Its a trial to see if the VA will approve Braing SPECT imaging as a diagnosic treatment tool for Post Traumatic Brain Disorder (PTSD) and TBI. He showed me an image of his brain. You could see a large chunk was missing! I realised my mouth was covering my gaping mouth. He explained that he experiences diminished function from a TBI sustained in Veitnam. He also suffers from PTSD. His second picture showed my the PTSD diamond. Interesting shit, I’m telling you check it out! This scan will show whien these areas are overly excited. Conditions such as PTSD, OCD, even Bipolar and Schizephrinia are starting to be diagnosed by this. After the scan he had to complete 40 sessions in a hyperbaric chamber. Just in case you don’t know…Hyperbaric chambers have been shown to cure conditions like the downs in divers by filling with pure oxygen. It also helps vastly in healing major body wounds. This new study is to find out if the chamber helps the heal the brain. This veteran was very excited to be there to be getting his follow up scan. He said he’s noticed a difference in his cognition. I’m waiting on the e-mail with his scans so I can see his before and after. Hopefully I can share!
They took me back into a room and told me they were going to inject me with “mCi Tc-99m HMPAO” whatever the fuck that is, another thing for my mother to blame for my actions. Digression…I couldn’t be stilumaled at all. So I opted for the book I Brough, instead of my phone. The tech smiled and said I coudln’t do anything. Just sit. In the dark. What the fuck is this shit? I basically fell asleep. I suffer from shift workers syndrome…I can fall asleep anytime, anywhere if you let me. After 15 minutes I got to rejoin the guys to shoot the shit for a bit. While we talked, we realized he is a patient of my fiance’s. Small fuckin world! Eh? I was called back and told that I was going to have to lay there for 45 mins. FUUUUUCCCKK! I have a grade 2 spondylolisthesis. I can’t sit still ever…leggo…
Panic attack…Escalated out of no where! Oh Mylanta! They’re going to see TBI, PTSD, anxitey, a FUCKING TUMOR! Oh my god I’m going to have brain cancer. Why am I so curious? I’d have been better off not knowing. I started practicing my slow breathing…ok dum dum…you have 40 mins left of this…don’t you think It would be smart for them to see regular brain…not panic attack brain. So I calmed myself down rather quickly and nearly fell asleep.
FastForward to a week later and I’m getting the results:
- Moderate Scalloping both hemispheres
- Moderate to large areas of moderate to severe decreased profusion and function within the temporal lobels and left pareietal region with small areas of decread perfusion and function withing the frontal and cocipital lobes
- Moderate sized area of moderate severe decreased perfusion and functoin witht he cingulate gyrus
- Finding are likely posttraumattic in nature
Time to pick my jaw off the ground! In the week since I had taken the test I had talked myself out of anything being wrong. I’ve been on a medical journey to find out what’s been keeping me from my potential for years now. Why was this test all of a sudden going to reaveal something? Everthing else had come up with nothing?! I looked at the pictures and started crying. It was and wasn’t all in my head! All at the same fucking time. #MindBlown My brain looked like the entire left side had a grenade go off from the underside. I cried for my precious brain. I cried for my validation. I cried for the most dangerous thing on earth….fucking hope. She was saying we could work with this. I wasn’t a lost cause? I wasn’t crazy? I wasn’t BIPOLAR?! Can I get this in writing to send to my mother. I need a doctor’s note!
The military and my inpatient both had positions with pharmaceutacls. Let’s make you feel better and a productive member of the military without really knowing what the root cause is. Or the reprocussions down the road. Counteractions occur! Addiction is an on going crisis! This new doctor wants to only treat the parts of me that aren’t currently functioning at the appropriate level. While I continue to go to therapy like it’s my motha fuckin j-o-b! I don’t plan to be on these meds to the rest of my life. I hope to rewire my thinking so the posttraumatic functionality is overridden. That is my own. For me alone. I’m sure it’s driven by my family’s inability to support mental health. They’d rather anger, frustration and sadness stay pent up until it kills or you kill yourself. Not me! I’m breaking free! I understand some folks need medications for life. I am one of them. I have other conditions that I will continue to stay medicated for the foreseeable future so I am #TeamMedWhenAppropriate Take your meds if you perscribed them. Don’t ever stop because someone looks at you sideways. You do you to get you right!
That’s all I’ve got to say today about that kittens. Hope it’s some good food for thought!