Last week, I went to a new psychiatrist. I had been going to my old one for eight years and never wanted to leave him, but he was seeing me for free and that arrangement wasn't really working out for him anymore. He always told me I was one of his "investments in the future." In other words, by working to help people, even if they couldn't pay, he was ensure the future success of our world. (Well, that was how I chose to interpret it. I suppose, it could have also been seen as a his investment plan...someday in the future, when he called in his debts, I would owe him a substantial amount of money...but, I digress.) This isn't about the old experience, but instead about the new.
My new shrink decided within a short period of time that I was bipolar. He's not the first to give me this moniker, so it was not as shocking as it probably could have been, but it was still a bit of shock. I know that I am a person with a lot of energy. Heck, I have to hike straight uphill every day for a couple of miles to be able to sit at my desk job all day. I might even characterize my personality as "bipolar manic" when I am excited about something or somebody. When I am engaged, watch out! And this new doctor engaged me making the likelihood that he would see me as completely insane all the more destined. We ended up having a two and a half hour session. We talked about his life and mine. We shared stories and theories. It was an enjoyable time for him and for me.
At the end of the meeting, a couple of doctorly truths were determined and stated:
1) You are bipolar, but I don't know how you have managed to survive and thrive so incredibly all your life...I don't know how you have been able to "pull yourself back from the brink" (he meant from the brink of an extreme bipolar manic flight or psychosis.)
2) No changes are going to be made to your medication because the regimine you are on obviously seems to work.
This all left me reeling.
In response, I had many questions that formed in the primordial soup of my brain over the next few days:
1) Why tell a person that they are diseased, if you cannot figure out how they have managed to avoid all the negative aspects of that disease?
2) If a person has been able to thrive and not suffer due to their disease, are they diseased?
3) Since I am on medication for depression, is that what has kept me from the "brink" or is it something else? God?
4) If nothing is changed in my "treatment" and nothing is changed by this meeting, other than the label I affix to myself, how and why does it change me at all?
It shouldn't. I am who I have always been. Hiking my mania/high-energy/busy-ness away and grounding and centering myself so I can live in a world with people who are not like me. No one is like me anyway, so why should I care?
(This post is dedicated to all the left siders everywhere living outside of the bell curve)