By Raquel Lyons
If you have been reading my articles since the beginning, or even somewhere around the middle, you may recall that I lived with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder on self-harm and suicide obsessions. Well, in this installment, I might just boggle your mind.
In the last academic year, I think I have moved away from the label of OCD. In fact, during my eighth hospitalization it was suggested by both my outside psychiatrist and the psychiatrist assigned to me there that I may be dealing with more than the OCD. Granted, I have been aware of the secondary depression, but it was more than that, too.
You may have noticed my sudden absence in writing for the paper last semester. Things, well, they hit the fan for me. I had accepted a new job offer that incidentally was not such a good fit for me, and took time off of school to attend the orientation. Including the orientation, I was good for about three weeks. Then, there was the fan.
I wound up making my fourth suicide attempt and heading to the hospital the same day from the Counseling Center. I wrote an article about this experience in “Say the Word Suicide: The Mistake.” A week later, I went back to a different hospital because the Arbour system is atrocious; at least, I find it so.
There was some article progress I made while inpatient, but largely I found I could not write the same for the paper as I had done previously. So time moved on, classes were taking a dip for the worse, and I was wading through uncertainty.
What was brought up in my hospitalization was that I may be dealing with borderline personality disorder traits. Now, this was not the first time I had heard this suggestion, however it was the first time I approached it with cautious acceptance.
Even now, I still find myself trying to shove my symptoms into little square boxes, to acquire the label of BPD so that I can rest assured that there is a name for what I am going through, and more so, a following treatment for it. But, within the realm of mental health, these answers are not so easy to find–if they can even be found at all.
It is easy to get caught up in the label of our diagnoses. However, it is important, if you, too, like me, are struggling with identity issues: to remember that you are not your diagnosis. You may live with, struggle with, co-exist with, or whatever adjective-best-appeals-to-you with the diagnosis you have and you are so much more than that diagnosis.
You have skills, talents, favorite colors, a spirit animal, preferences, sexualities, gender identities and much more about you than tossing a self-label on your forehead as depression, OCD, BPD or bipolar. Changing our word choice goes a long way; I know for me it helped me tremendously when I was still dealing with OCD to separate myself from the disorder.
But even then, I clung to the label. But as I read over OCD reference pages I felt I had about two symptoms to what was once everything on the list. And then I lay in exasperation–where on Earth did the OCD go? How did I get rid of it? What was I dealing with now?
I may never know for sure, and that will bug the crap out of me, and maybe that is a good thing. At the hospital they informed me that I could call it OCD if I wanted to, but I did not have to. They agreed that I live with obsessionality on self-harm and suicide and for that that is what I refer to as what I live with now. They also agreed that there are some depressive elements to my experiences and they suggested looking more into the BPD. If not the full diagnosis, I qualify for traits of it.
I also live with trichotillomania, or the hair-pulling disorder. It is an OCD spectrum disorder in which for me I pull out my eyelashes and eyebrows. I have had this since I was about twelve, it just so happens that this summer I lost my left eyebrow twice, completely. So, it got more severe and I had to finally sit down, recognize it and accept it as another factor involved. (I’m doing better with it thanks to a med increase and a coping treasures bag!)
Above all, my message is: Do not cling so tightly to your diagnosis. You can and will make it far without it. Diagnosis is a fluid concept; it can start as one thing and dissolve into something else later. Be open to the process, and stay safe.
Written August 12th and 13th 2017.
[[I’m having a very hard time but luckily wrote this up last night so I can upload it here now for you guys and for today’s post. Still working on the Rescue Me? one, too. A couple more hundreds of words and it’ll be all set. Thank you for sticking with me, guys.]]
Sept. 4.2017 Update: Added my new photo to this article. It’s a black&white of myself without glasses on with a bunch of labels on my face. Wanted to do this today and I got it done, will do more in the future spurred on and inspired from this photo shoot concept. 🙂