The blots keep showing through #bipolarlabel

I turn over a new leaf every day but the blots keep showing through is an idea from “Billy Liar by Laurie Lee?

I often feel my life is like this. Each day I try to live without bipolar disorder but it is always there. I do not believe I have a definable illness or disorder called bipolar, but what I have is a label… In the UK anyone labelled with bipolar disorder by the NHS is considered labelled for life. There is no system for removing the label no matter what we do. Yes, you can have a big argument with a psychiatrist and be relabeled with a personality disorder, but once labelled by a psychiatrist you can never get rid of the label. It stays on your health records for ever.

Why does this matter to me?

  1. It is very hard to forget… Not a day has gone by in the last 14 years when I have not thought about the consequences of having this label. In fact, I rarely go for a few minutes without remembering how I have been labelled. It is there at the front of my mind all the time. It is often difficult to think of anything else other than having this label that has been killing me.
  2. Being labelled as ‘severely mentally ill’ makes it very difficult to get back into meaningful work. A few people, such as Stephen Fry, are able to work without being held back by being labelled. For most of us though, employers find it hard to know what to do when a potential employee has been labelled as severely mentally ill.

Why mention this now?

Sometime soon I am going to be meeting with health professionals to discuss the severe anxiety I have been suffering in recent months. I am struggling as much as I was back in 1998, although without the mood swings induced by psychiatric drugs. These struggles with anxiety do not have to be labelled as bipolar disorder. Although I have learned a lot about coping I now have the health problems caused by having taking prescribed drugs, as well as the effects of having this label round my neck to contend with on top of the distress I am facing every day. I am not looking for medication. Some sort of therapy would be nice, but I am not good at explaining just how bad things have been so I am not expecting miracles.

I still have a vague hope that I can be ‘undiagnosed’. That somehow the psychiatrists can look back at my medical notes and say, “You know what, all those symptoms we saw are things that happen to people when they get very anxious and drugs are involved. I tell you what we are going to re-diagnose you as suffering from extreme anxiety.” Maybe they will decide that the stress I suffered was enough to cause PTSD, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, as this has similar symptoms to bipolar.

It is a crazy idea. Just suggesting to a psychiatrist that you do not have the disorder they say you have is a dangerous thing to do.

Yes, I have met with critical doctors and critical psychiatrists who looking at my history can confirm to me that I do not naturally have extremes of mania and depression. However, these people are powerless to change my medical record. Only one man can do this. He is all powerful and it seems to me, he controls everything about how I will be living the rest of my life. I have never met him face to face and dread the prospect.

If he reads this, he will most likely pick up on my gloomy outlook… and a gloomy outlook will look to him like depression, to which he will be able to say, “That proves we were right all along, he is a typical manic depressive/bipolar person”.

I do keep trying. I do keep turning over a new leaf. Unfortunately the blot created in 1998 after taking one tranquilizer tablet that made me less tranquil, an ‘antipsychotic’ that made me psychotic, an ‘antidepressant’ that made me depressed and then high… is a blot that keeps on showing through.

Sorry to be so gloomy but it is true… at this time bipolar is for life… my advice to readers is try not to get the diagnosis in the first place.

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About Roger Smith (in the UK)
Helping you to think about bipolar disorder in different ways so that we can eliminate the disorder and eventually eliminate the need for this diagnosis.

One Response to The blots keep showing through #bipolarlabel

  1. Ruth Redd says:

    Interested to hear the outcome of your meeting. I accept that I have Bipolar Disorder and it’s just ‘one of those things that happens in life’. I agree about employers though-I have just received the Atos form and am not looking forward to a potential interview with them.
    I’m sorry to hear that your anxiety levels have been so crippling;you need to get the professionals to understand the depth of your suffering. Be positive about telling them……..
    Best wishes always


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