All that I am, all that I ever was…

I am more than my mental health. I am more than my homelessness. I am more than any one aspect of me. I am Addy. And this is…

Days 12 & 13: Diagnostic criteria (and all that jazz!)



Bipolar | Unknown Artist (found on Google Images)

For the last few days – ever since Friday’s anniversary of 2007’s major suicide attempt – I have been feeling very flat and out of sorts. Focusing has been incredibly difficult and feeling anything other than ‘over it’ has been just as difficult to attain.

In fact, meh seems to have been my mood of choice today, with barely a millisecond spent outside of this most horrible and despicable of emotions. However, I’m fighting the urge to curl up in a ball and cry so as to answer a couple of the 30 Days of Mental Illness Awareness Challenge, which has been getting away from me of late.

The prompts I’m answering in this post are days 12 and 13, which ask:

  • Day 12: What do you think about your diagnosis in general? 
  • Day 13: If you know the criteria of your illness(es) which ones do you think you meet?

The Diagnostic Criteria for Bipolar (Type I)

Diagnostic criteria for Bipolar I Disorder, Most Recent Episode Unspecified

A. Criteria, except for duration, are currently (or most recently) met for a Manic, a Hypomanic, a Mixed, or a Major Depressive Episode.

B. There has previously been at least one Manic Episode or Mixed Episode.

C. The mood symptoms cause clinically significant distress or impairment in social, occupational, or other important areas of functioning.

D. The mood episodes in Criteria A and B are not better accounted for by Schizoaffective Disorder and are not superimposed on Schizophrenia, Schizophreniform Disorder, Delusional Disorder, or Psychotic Disorder Not Otherwise Specified.

E. The mood symptoms in Criteria A and B are not due to the direct physiological effects of a substance (e.g., a drug of abuse, a medication, or other treatment) or a general medical condition (e.g., hyperthyroidism).

There are several different variations of the diagnostic criteria for Bipolar Affective Disorder, which depend on whether the most recent mood has been manic, hypomanic, depressed, etc, but I have chosen to reproduce the criteria for ‘most recent episode unspecified’ as it was ultimately the one that was used to diagnose me.

My original diagnosis occurred in late 2007, several months after a manic episode, shortly after a depressive episode and in the midst of a hypomanic episode – this meant that A and B were covered. Given I was homeless and socially isolated at the time, criteria C was covered, especially considering I was barely functioning on a day-to-day basis whilst E –given my relative dislike of prohibited substances and alcohol – was easily checked.

The only item that was really debated at the time (and for years afterwards) was D, as I also showed signs and symptoms for a variety of other illnesses, including Schizophrenia and Borderline Personality Disorder.

Today, my most common symptoms are depressive and hypomanic periods. In fact, to my knowledge (and I’m pretty sure I’d be aware after if not during the fact) I haven’t experienced full on mania since 2008, although given the months of lost time in 2010, there is a debate amongst my support workers that I was manic during this time.

How do I feel about my diagnosis?

My major issue has been the constant ‘tweaking’ of my diagnosis, and with it, the support I received. Over the years I have been un-diagnosed, mis-diagnosed and re-diagnosed so many times that I’m surprised I’m still alive.

From the immediate cessation of my medication (lithium, which I’d been taking for a few months), being told I wasn’t bipolar but unspecified personality disorder (after just seven minutes in the psychiatrists company) to being told that there was nothing wrong with me mere hours after a suicide attempt.

All treatment like this did was further alienate me not only from society but the mental health system and myself. It made it impossible for me to trust psychiatrists and receive the treatment I knew I needed to manage my condition. In fact, it has been nearly two years since I allowed myself to be part of the mental health system, purely as a result of the shocking treatment I’ve received from psychiatrists over the years.

Since excluding myself in this manner, I have found peace with the Bipolar diagnosis. I am properly medicated (despite my dislike of medication) and have numerous coping strategies in place for the occasional violent mood swing that occurs.

Whether as a result of removing myself from the psychiatric profession or just something that has happened organically, I realise now that I’m more than my label. I know that it makes me unique, because no-one’s mental illness presents in exactly the same fashion, and that this label will never be all that I am.

I am so much more.

Wow, dragging that post out of me was hard work! Hopefully this mood will not last much longer…but until then, I’m gonna go curl up in that ball I mentioned! Have a wonderful day/night everyone! :)

2 thoughts on “Days 12 & 13: Diagnostic criteria (and all that jazz!)

  1. Pingback: 30MIAC Day 12: Round Up/Results | Marci, Mental Health, & More

  2. Pingback: 30MIAC Day 13: Round Up and Results | Marci, Mental Health, & More

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