Waiting in the doctor’s office takes an eternity. It is cold, and I do not want to be there. I think back to when I requested a psychiatrist from my psychologist and how I regret doing it. My brain explodes into images of the doctor saying multiple disorders and I get sicker with each new “diagnosis.” The doctor finally comes out and calls my name; I am extremely anxious as I walk behind him. I almost say, “There has been a mistake; I don’t really need a psychiatrist. Surprise!” But my throat is closed too tightly for it to come out. Sitting in his office, I feel out of place and my thought process is stuck on you shouldn’t be here, you shouldn’t be here. He asks why I’m here to see him, and I start crying. It is uncontrollable; I do not say anything for the first couple of minutes because I am trying to stop crying. Afterwards, he asks me why I started crying. I tell him that I do not want to be here. He gives me a look and waits a beat. “How do you feel right now?” I think over it a bit, “Embarrassed, mostly. Anxious. I feel like I’m being lured into a trap.” He asks me if I always feel like that: the answer is yes. He prods a little deeper with each question he asks until I’m crying again. He simply states that, “I believe you have bipolar NOS with severe anxiety.”
I freeze in my chair and think back to when I was eleven years old and heading back from my first psychiatrist. My mother just staring out the windshield, not acknowledging me. I sat huddled in the corner of my seat not knowing what to do. When we got home, my mother asked me, “Why couldn’t you be normal?”
Returning to myself, I realize I’m having a panic attack in my psychiatrist office.
My psychiatrist explains to me that Bipolar NOS means Bipolar Disorder Not Otherwise Specified. Bipolar NOS is where I experience being bipolar—with its manic and depressive episodes, but I do not fit into a special bipolar box. He gives me a set of pills. I notice that they are not the ones my first psychiatrist prescribed me and sends me on my way. I make another appointment with him and visit the pharmacy with embarrassment. I sit in my car and think about how I’m going to tell my parents. My mother’s voice floats around in my head, echoing, “Why couldn’t you be normal?”
I had slowly started to express myself more before this diagnosis. Now that I think about it, could someone tell? Was I being overtly emotional? Was I really just this messed up little girl who couldn’t control her emotions and was insane? Would I eventually get so bad I would have to be put into inpatient at the hospital? Worse and worse scenarios keep rushing through my head. Somehow, I arrive at my house.
I do not have any recollection of the drive home and that scares me more. If I cannot even remember driving home, does that mean I should be put into observation so I do not hurt anyone around me? The scenarios in my head progressively get worse and more unrealistic, but I cannot help but be afraid of them. “How’d everything go?” my father asks, scaring me out of my preposterous scenarios.
“Fine!” I say, not convincing myself, but convincing my father. I stride up the stairs and hide in my room. I glance at where I keep my razors. Suicide has and will always be an option to me. I take the razors out of their box and put them beside the prescriptions the psychiatrist gave me. For a while, I just stare at them. Stare and think about how I’m not normal. I am not a normal person. I have something wrong with me, not like my cousins that I am always compared to. They live great normal lives; they are more successful than me. Is it because of this disease that I am unsuccessful? Is it because of this disease that my family likes my cousins more than me?
I’m working myself up to another panic attack. I pick up one of the razors and press it to my skin, not slicing, just pressing. I stare at the blade pressing against my skin for a long time. I only stop when my mother calls me down for dinner. At dinner, my father once again asks how my doctor’s appointment went. I answer as vaguely as I can get away with and scurry back up to my room.
I stare at the group of pills and razors again. I start to daydream. Daydream a world where I am a normal person, where I do not have anxiety and I certainly do not have bipolar disorder. It is then that I see that my daydream is not more than my actual life. In fact, it is my life how it is, maybe a little less shy and more outgoing, but it still is my life. The gears in my head start turning. If my daydream is, essentially, no more different from my actual day-to-day life… I glance at the razors and pills. I pick one up and swallow it down.