Posts tagged ‘obsessive compulsive disorder’

RCAD 2, 3: Collecting Labels Like Pokemon

redefining-disability2

Redefining Disability 

Question 2: If you have a medical diagnosis, do you see yourself as having a disability? Why or why not? If you don’t have one, how do you view the concept of disability or the people in your life who have them?

Depends on which one- I see the epilepsy as an impairment, as in its inherently disabling by its nature rather than due to social/political structures.

The most inherently disabling thing is probably the anxiety and depression, when I have those under control, and find the best ways of adapting things to suit my brain (autism/Asperger’s, ADHD, dyscalculia, possible giftedness) then they are more like differences and uneven social/emotional abilities, development and intelligences and a unique and intense way of experiencing the world. Whether I identify as a person with disabilities kind of depends on the social context.

3) What have your experiences been with medical treatment and/or therapy been like? Do you have positive, negative, or mixed feelings about your experiences?

I mostly talk about being autistic/Asperger’s Syndrome but the truth is I have a whole collection of medical/psychiatric labels. I collect them the way some people collect Pokemon cards! Except, they tend to be more expensive, and you don’t keep them in album and show them off to people! They are more like credit cards that I only reveal when I need a specific service, accommodation or treatment, that only my special cards will get me.

As a child it was noticed that I had emotional problems, and when my mother took me a doctor he said I had “fragile moods”. Not especially helpful! In the 1980’s autism was not very well-known, especially for children that were verbal and intelligent. Later on, after we moved to another state my brother and I were both given a bunch of tests and labeled with autism- “high functioning autism” in his case, Asperger’s Syndrome in mine. At the time these were both considered rare conditions. Throughout my life, I’ve experienced problems with depression and anxiety, which are somewhat related to autism and other learning disabilities- I am more easily stressed out by changes in my environment, schedules, sensory input, and interactions with people. Being worried about doing the right thing socially and figuring out how I will make it in the world leads me to have anxiety problems.  I can’t remember when I was diagnosed with major depression and generalized anxiety disorder, since I wasn’t really “in charge” of my care until I was an adult.

To be frank, especially when dealing with psychiatrists I’ve often felt very dehumanized. The problem of course is that if you describe such feelings to a mental health “expert” they will often dismiss it and attribute it to your depression or other issues. Yes, you can have depression to begin with, but persistently being viewed as a walking case file and list of symptoms is also pretty depressing!

One psychiatrist I had seemed to not understand the difference between Asperger’s and Obsessive Compulsive Disorder- they have overlapping symptoms, and some people have both, but they are still different things. So he kept medicating me for OCD all thru high school and thru part of college until I did some research and realized that the medication might actually be making my anxiety worse, so I tapered off of it.

Another psychiatrist I saw thought the mix of both depressive symptoms and hyperactivity meant I had Bipolar Type II (a “milder” form of Bipolar Disorder in which a person has shorter periods of depression and hypomania, rather than full-blown mania. I researched that, and found the description didn’t fit what I was experiencing.

I suspected instead that I had ADHD, and I saw a therapist who evaluated me for it, and it turns out I was right! They had only used one type of test for AD/HD when I was a kid, a Tova test and I barely “passed it” (or is it “flunking”?) but my father and brother were both diagnosed with ADD. It’s interesting, because most people I know my age were diagnosed with ADD or ADHD as kids, but didn’t get the autism/Asperger’s label until their teens or adulthood, because it was less well-known. I guess I just confuse the “experts”, now don’t I?

I have also struggled with math, telling time, a sense of rhythm and other issues which all fall under the term dyscalculia, a learning disability that no one has heard of, though it’s about as common as it’s more well-known cousin, dyslexia. It seems people consider being “bad at math” less noticeable than having trouble with reading, even though they both very important skills. I actually flunked PreAlgebra…in college- though I did fine after I had a tutor!

I also have epilepsy- grand mal seizures, which commonly overlaps with both autism and depression and other types of mental illness. Fortunately that is now under control with medication.

I like the therapist I have currently- she respects me as an individual with my own opinions/interests etc. without trying to box me in based on any labels I have, but she also recognizes my challenges and helps me learn to deal with them. I also see a psychiatric nurse rather than a psychiatrist, and while this may not work for everyone, I recommend this option if you’ve had trouble with psychiatrists. Nurses are trained to have a better rapport with people.

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June 19, 2015 at 1:55 am 2 comments

Comparing Autism & Borderline Personality Disorder

Recently, Pride in Madness posted some memes from a Tumblr called “Shit Borderlines Do” and commented on how they related to her own experiences. I noticed some similarities with autistic traits and commented about this, and someone else responded wanting to know more about autism and how it might overlap with BPD. I will preface this by saying that I am not that familiar with Borderline Personality Disorder, I’ve know a couple people (in-person or online) with that label, I get the impression it’s a newer one that is somewhat controversial (but then isn’t every mental health label?) Links for more info on BPD at the bottom of the post.

“You notice the slightest difference in how someone treats you, and it bothers you for days on end”

The autistic or obsessive-compulsive version of this would be more likely to be “a school or work policy, procedure, or the way objects, furniture etc. are arranged changes without explanation, and it bothers you for days on end”

“Just constantly feeling f*cking guilty for things that you know logically aren’t your fault” PiM mentions that her tendency of compulsive apologizing for random things. Because of my long of offending people without realizing it, messing up due to clumsiness, ADHD spaciness, etc. I tend to do a lot of pre-emptive “just in case” apologizing. It’s very insecure and paranoid. Which has the additional effect of making my apologies for actual serious things seem less sincere.  Some autistic or OCD people will develop a certain way of doing things that they believe they “have to do” or Bad Things Will Happen- like our own personal superstitions. This is a sort of coping mechanism for putting something tangible under our control for a world that seems out of control.

“Feeling so much of everything so very deeply that it’s overwhelming”

I suspect that the reasons folks with BPD have this problem may be different than for those on the autism spectrum, though for person with both it may be a combination. For autistic folks, often sensory input (noise, lights, smells, touch) and constant social interaction can often lead to feeling emotionally overwhelmed and having what we call a “meltdown”. In contrast, I get the impression that people with BPD are to some degree picking up on the emotions of others and internalizing/amplifying them.

General Info on BPD

Psych Central description

Nat’l Alliance on Mentally Illness description

BPD & Autism

Apparently women and girls with ASD (whom as I’ve discussed before, are often later diagnosed) are often mis-diagnosed with BPD. BPD still may be a more accurate label for some people, and some people may have both.

Borderline Personality Disorder- a correct diagnosis?

Similarities & Differences between ASD & BPD

October 14, 2014 at 1:21 am 4 comments


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