These are the steps taken to get to my diagnosis and how long it took to get here!
Firstly, I have the diagnosis of Mixed Personality Disorder which is a mixture of a few different personality disorders. You can read a bit more about it here.
I suppose this is more for you who do not have a diagnosis. Some might not want one, others may crave one for different reasons. For me, I was desperate for a diagnosis purely because I did not have a clue (still pretty clueless) about who I am, why I act and think like I do. I needed to put a name to it, a foundation, that I could build from to try and work out why I am like this and who I really am.
I have started to understand why I am like this but I still don’t really know who I am. Who the ‘real’ me is. Every face I put on is a different act and I’ve split myself so many times over the years that I don’t know if there is any of that pre-illness person left.
Anyway, for those interested in how the whole getting help/diagnosis thing here is my experience (please note that this will differ from country to country, postcode to postcode. My timeline of care may be completely different to the one you may receive).
Month 1 – I go to my GP.
This will be the first step for many who are suffering from poor mental health. I wouldn’t have ever gone if my partner didn’t force me. I couldn’t cope with overwhelming emotions, I sunk us into massive debts and I was literally whirlwinding through life destroying anything and everyone who got close. It had to stop or I would have died. Upon visiting the GP it was ‘depression’ and I was given a prescription of Sertraline which is an anti-depressant (SSRI – Selective serotonin re-uptake inhibitor). Basically tweaks your brain to ‘uptake’ more serotonin, the feel good chemical. The side effects for anti-depressants are shit, mouth as dry the Sahara and my sex life…Also as dry as the Sahara.
Month 4 – Back to the GP
The anti-depressants ain’t working. My moods are all over the place, I still want to kill myself during the crushing lows and I completely lose touch with reality when my mind takes off into space on a high. So they up the dose, still ‘depression’.
Month 10 or 11 – See GP, again
These drugs are still not doing anything for me, I am taken off them. Some crazy GP (not my usual one) told me they don’t even work as they’re only a placebo ha. I would have spat my coffee out if I had one. I can sort of see what he was trying to do but yeah, daft thing to say. I think the issue is here (and not to bash GP’s) is mental health generally is not where their expertise lies. I am offered 7 sessions of therapy with MIND but I’ve got to wait for them as everything has waiting lists nowadays.
Month 14 – My 7 MIND sessions
These were actually great. Not so much in helping my illness but it opened my mind to various mental health issues plus it was a massive relief actually talking to someone about my problems. I had never been able to open up like that to anyone. The therapy wasn’t suited to me but I’m glad I did it, also, I don’t think I would have progressed to further therapy if I had turned it down. So if you’re starting down the diagnosis journey – stick with it and do what they offer you.
Month 16 – Back to the GP with MIND recommendations
I was seeing my GP again but this time armed with a write up from the therapist at MIND. The recommendation was that I move care from GP to my local mental health support team. This is the team I am still under care with today and it includes lots of head Dr’s, nurses, support staff and help when you’re in a crisis. Great….Back on the waiting list.
Month 19 – Start therapy sessions with local CPN (community psychiatric nurse I think)
First off, they sort me out some medication to try and curb my mood swings. Lamotrigine was prescribed and I am still on that today, albeit, a higher dose. The sessions were good, I was speaking with someone with much more experience in the mental health game. They understood me better than anyone else before.
Month 22 – DIAGNOSIS GIVEN!!
After a few months of therapy, my CPN collecting data and sending it back to their noggin HQ I had a meeting with a psychologist who ran through more of the same questions (you get asked the same things over and over throughout the whole process). Then she gave me my diagnosis of mixed personality disorders, didn’t really explain it so I was utterly confused and upped my drug dosage.
Month 23 – More therapy
Back to seeing my CPN. The diagnosis was discussed in depth so I had a good idea what was going on. I was so happy I could finally put a name to it. Work could now begin on recovery! After a few more months of therapy it was decided that moving into DBT (dialectical behaviour therapy) would be best suited for me. Waiting list woo.
Month 26 – Start DBT
Start my DBT course, it’s a bit weird. I’ll write about it on here at a later date. I didn’t really ‘click’ with it but to be fair I was going through a bad patch when starting it so was feeling very much like ‘fuck it, I’ll be dead soon anyway’. I went through a couple of modules, I quite enjoyed the mindfulness part of it. This course is group therapy and runs along side individual therapy sessions so quite intense. After a couple of months it was decided I might be better suited to a therapy called RO DBT (radically open DBT). This course is more suited to over controlled people rather than under so it certainly sounded like a better fit.
Month 28 – Start RO DBT
RO DBT is better suited to me!! Also what has worked in my favour here is I have come out from under that black cloud that has been over me for the last 3 months. So I have a new lease of life, I feel good for the first time in what feels like forever. This is where I am now, still chugging through RO DBT. I will update this as time goes on. The course will eventually finish and then who knows what awaits me.
I hope this information helps and I apologise if it has shown to you how long the process can actually be. Pretty much 2 years for a diagnosis (bear in mind I have been suffering for 15 years+). It’s a long road to recovery so the sooner you start it the better. If you need help, please just go see your GP. Please or else I’ll do nothing because I don’t know you but yeah, you might just find that your life is worth living.