The Anti Textbook Case

I suppose I have known from a very early age I was…different. I marched to my own drummer even at age 5. Acknowledging my own perception of myself as being different has often lead to mental health professionals wanting to slap “schizotypal” labels on my file.
The ones that don’t want to do that want to label it “paranoid personality” disorder because I was bullied in school and began to believe I was “weird” or “outcast.” And because I have intense emotional swings, well, that’s borderline personality disorder.

What is with this disorder fetish the mental health care people have latched onto? They’d label an hour old infant with some sort of disorder these days. About the only way to not have a disorder is to never come out of the womb.
I own cyclothymic bipolar disorder, panic disorder, generalized anxiety, seasonal affact…I own those.
But all this psychology bullshit that’s been thrust on me the last few years has left me pretty salty.
For fifteen years I was in counseling. I was “personality disorder not otherwise specified.” Because to qualify, you have to have a certain number of traits for a disorder.
I could never make the grade, so to speak. I’d have a trait or two from this disorder, one from that disorder, a couple from another…FIVE counselors all came to this same conclusion. Not otherwise specified.
Then suddenly social tides and the diagnostic manual changes…And everything is a personality disorder. Borderline seems to be society’s favorite.
And not even the so called professionals seem able to differentiate borderline from bipolar with any certainty.

I miss the days when you could just say, “Okay, I keep doing X and it keeps resulting in Y..So I need to change that behavior.”
NOOOO. Let’s not pinpoint one, let’s hand down a label for an entire disorder with multiple traits so you feel even more defective.
And if you don’t agree with the way that have diagnosed you usually based on ninety minutes of intake forms and banal questions…Well, it’s proof you have the disorder. Only someone with a personality flaw would dare question that someone with a degree or two knows more about them than they do themselves

The borderline thing, since the shrink tossed it out, has been driving me nuts. Because while the similarities are there, personality doesn’t change with hormones, mood cycles, manic episodes. Who I am varies from each cycle and what frame of mind I am in. That’s pure bipolar.
My rebellious streak…that’s pure personality because it doesn’t change no matter the worst depression or highest manic episode.
Most of my mood swings have no outside trigger.
And while relationships do make my emotions metastasize into monstrous things I have trouble containing…If anything, my biggest sin in relationships is that I like being alone. Being with someone makes me feel bound, tied down, hindered and oppressed. It’s never been a conscious thing, but subconsciously, I think I repeat the same behaviors in every relationship because after awhile…I want out and it’s just easier to drive people away by being a jerk.
A hallmark of borderline is a desperate need to hold onto people and not be abandoned.
But I set myself up to be abandoned because I like being alone.
How does the shrink even think that makes sense?

Oh, right, those seven minute drive through appointments in front of a tv screen make her an utmost authority on my personality.

Actually, the only person qualified to judge my personality is me because I live with it. I don’t need a disorder label to tell me I have bad traits that I need to work on.
The one good thing all the therapy has given me is a great self awareness.
Enough of it to question the so called professionals.
Because it was one of them who misdiagnosed me and gave me the wrong meds for ten years which made my condition worse rather than better.
Question authority. Question everything.
Once I was diagnosed bipolar, then the doctors were on the fence because my mood swings didn’t follow the textbook guidelines for depressive episodes or manic episodes.
Guess what?
I’m a person, not a case study in a text book.
Oddly, it took one of the worst shrinks I ever had to conclude I have cyclothymia, which is a branch off of bipolar two. All it means is that you cycle so rapidly, you’re going off script with the common bipolar symptoms.

People are not textbooks.
Mental illness does not fit into a neat little box where everyone has the exact same symptoms of the exact same duration.
And when someone spent ten of their formative years being bullied, insulted, and terrorized…Labeling them as a paranoid and calling it a disorder is akin to telling a war vet their post traumatic stress is a personality flaw.
We all have baggage and skeletons but so often it’s not considered when they slap that “mentally ill’ label on us.
Someone who got bitten by a dog as a kid will naturally fear it happening again. It doesn’t make them phobic or dysfunctional.

Society’s need to classify personality as a disorder pisses me off. Because I never fit into the box even before all the psychological scars. I don’t stand a damn chance here. The only reason I even keep dealing with the mental health “professionals” is because I’ve gone off the mood stabilizers enough times to know it’s a serious mistake and I will end up doing things I regret that I normally wouldn’t do. I need medicated. It corrects whatever is wrong in my brain wiring.

But the rest of this crap…
Is my love for coffin and skull decor really a disorder? Is it a sign of sickness that I like watching crime and forensic programs? Am I out of touch with reality because I love reading vampire novels? And my 99% black wardrobe, is that a sign of depression or could it just be that I like black because it’s slimming and I don’t have to worry about stains?
And yeah, these are things I’ve discussed in counseling that have ended up with a little * next to them in my file along with a new personality disorder label.
It’s beyond asinine.

I have mental issues.
But I am an anti textbook case.
Because I am an individual, not a number in some survey so society can have their precious labels for anyone who strays outside the sheeple herd.
It’s okay to be self aware. It’s okay to analyze yourself and recognize patterns of behavior your repeat that end negatively for you. It’s okay to want to be a better version of yourself.
I don’t think it’s okay to view your entire existence as a disorder just because it makes society and the doctors more comfortable.
Think outside the box.
Color outside the lines.
Different is not bad. Different is pretty awesome.
Don’t ever let quirks be labeled as disorders.
That will suck the life out of you more than any psych med ever could.


3 Responses to “The Anti Textbook Case”

  1. If only you could fit neatly in one particular box, at least thats how I feel. What things i have been labeled makes treatment that much more difficult. Constantly the dr. I see will say things like, “Your physical pain might be from your depression or caused by your anxiety, it’s hard to say why it is this way, etc.”. It is completely frustrating for me. And Ive studied up on the different kind of personality disorders only to feel even more confused because like you mentioned, I might have a few traits from one but have other traits for this or that. I read through all of them and given the day and how I feel, I could identify with all of them or only one or two. Im everchanging but always the same, which sounds really stupid but I think you get what I mean. I really felt like what you wrote is in some ways exactly how I feel. Its puzzling to me how any physician can label you when they might spend just a few minutes, an hour even, confidentally diagnose a person with x, y, z…..I need to find a phychiatrist and therapist both so I can get proper treatment but I keep putting it off. I don’t know how to get myself motivated, doing the things I need to do, but I hope something will change soon. I know that fear is partly responsible for my behavior and I can say depression plays a huge role in things. Life has been frustrating for years now and as much as I want to get help, I just haven’t been able to take the needed action.

  2. I get what you’re saying. I have what I call “deer in the headlights” syndrome. I will spend months and months in absolute misery, unable to take a step forward or backward. It feels like a sort of psychological paralysis. And usually it takes something drastic to get me to take action. It’s not a lack of desire to get better or do what is necessary. It’s more…like being too paralyzed by fear to even move a muscle.

  3. Your thoughts are right on! You are a unique person who cannot be fit into a box. I hope you’ll trust yourself and your intuition that the professionals are not right to label you with all these different meaningless words. In fact, there is even less validity and reliability to these disorders than you might suspect – the whole notion that the symptom groupings that comprise these fictional disorders occur at any more than a chance level is illusory, driven only be psychiatrists’ need for authority, money, and the need to impose a pattern or order where there is none. You might be interested in the anti-psychiatry viewpoint expressed at MadinAmerica (dot com) and on my own blog.

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