I Am So Much More Than My Label

In a previous blog, I referred to my Bipolar and PTSD as my dragon, something only I can tame and ride. 

When you are labeled with a mental illness, the stigma associated with it can become debilitating.  It is as if you somehow become weaker by association, somehow less of a responsible, independent adult. 

I found that all those aspects of my personality that made me unique or quirky were no longer seen as aspects of my individuality, but rather as manifestations of my Bipolar or PSTD. 

Psychiatrists advocate a peaceful, healthy routine.  Exercise, yoga, regular sleep, religious consumption of medication, the avoidance of negative triggers. 

It all sounds so wonderful. 

However, we don’t live in an ideal world. We live in a world where life happens.  And sometimes the things that happen to you are devastating, they could happen to anyone. 

I was married for 22 years and then dumped for a girl half my age, what a cliché!  And yet it happens to zillions of women from all walks of life. It didn’t happen to me because I was Bipolar, it just happened. 

However, instead of giving me the chance to come to terms with it, I suddenly found myself in a psychiatric hospital, with huge doses of ECT and enough medication to turn me into a drooling semblance of a zombie. 

I couldn’t help but feel that this was done more to ‘protect’ the people in my environment or to leave them with a sense of smug-satisfaction that they had successfully ‘deactivated’ the self-destructive bomb they perceived me as. 

But there comes a time when you do have to face the music on your own, to cope alone when the tragedy that was you has become boring, old news. 

And I did cope. Why? Because I am strong.  I always have been, I am not my illness, I am Nanieve. 

However, before I pat myself and on the back with too much enthusiasm, I nearly met my nemesis, when my boyfriend of three years decided it would be a really good idea to kill me. And he nearly did. It took me two years to rehabilitate my body and the damage it did to me as a woman, my self-confidence and sense of security are immeasurable. 

I avoid mirrors and the panic attacks I get are indescribable.  

I went to a local mall a while back. Not too many people. I thought it was perfectly doable.  Half an hour later, I was huddled in a fetal position, sobbing hysterically, shaking uncontrollably and wet with perspiration.  I was mortified, crushed. Where was the woman I used to be? 

Recently I have been forced to search for a new psychiatrist.  We didn’t click. She looked bored, and it was obvious she couldn’t identify with my trauma. 

Her answer? “Do yoga,” she said. “Breathe”. And promptly she took me off all my meds. Cold Turkey. I will NEVER return. 

Now when I truly need help they give me the Sun Salutation?  Go figure… 

Fortunately the essence that is me, my core, my soul, will prevail because I am strong and this is just another dragon to ride. Good thing I wear spurs.

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