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I am missing a diagnosis. I used to ignore this bit, I’ve never given it a lot of importance, but now I feel this lack. It’s not because I need to know what’s wrong with me, it’s because I need to know what to do and what to expect to get out of it.

I’m not sure if I fit into a specific diagnosis, most of the times it feels like no description fits me like a glove, while I pick single pieces from here and there forming an unknown melting pot.

But not knowing, or not naming it, prevents me from researching, from finding additional work for me to do in order to overcome it all. It prevents me from recognising my resources. It prevents me from having expectations regarding my possible recovery.

Of course, my tendency towards hypochondria leads me to believe I fit diagnoses which aren’t really my case. This is why I have started reading a lot of blogs of people who suffer from Borderline Personality Disorder. I don’t have BPD, I would have been diagnosed by now if I did and I would feel much worse, I suspect. I wouldn’t have been able to do without medicines, I probably would have attempted suicide, I would have self harmed. Still, I read about it, because there’s always something to learn.

One of these things is how, when you have a specific condition, your doctor tells you what to expect, whether or not you are going to fully recover and how long it’s going to take. When recovery is possible, they talk about a few years. Of course, recovery is much like skating: you can’t tell how long it’s going to take for you to learn, because each and every one of us moves at their own pace. Some are gifted and spring forward, others need to strive a little more.

Still, I feel like I don’t have this at all. I feel alone even in my own condition. If you know you have a specific condition, you automatically enter a set: of all people, of all patients, of all of those who struggle with mental illnesses, you fall into the set of [enter your condition here]. There are others like you, others who have walked the same way before you, others you can compare yourself to, others you can learn from and can help you leading the way. Others who write their story on the Internet, others who found self-help groups, others who put their voices out there to inspire and guide anyone who still feels lost.

I don’t have that. I don’t know who I can look up to. I feel like I am the only one with my mix of ingredients and like I am the only one who can figure out how to get out of it. With one major exception: if no one has walked this road before, no one will ever tell me how long I’ll have to walk before I arrive, or if. The if is one of my biggest fears right now. People can recover from BPD, people can recover from OCD, from Depression, from Panic Attacks… can I recover from whatever-the-hell-it-is-I-have?

Sometimes, having a less debilitating condition is not always luck. Because it’s like having a rare disease. Cancer is hell, but it’s cancer, everyone knows cancer, there are statistics, cures, factsheets; that doesn’t mean it’s better than other diseases, because it’s not, but there is a specific course to follow. You do your radio therapy, you do chemo, you do this and that. If you’re lucky, it works just fine. You go through your own slice of hell and come out alive. Just like my father did. Twice.

If you have Tinnitus, it’s different. Your life is by no means at stake, it’s not even remotely life threatening, but at the same time, chances are you won’t be able to do absolutely anything about it. Because nobody know enough about it to cure it. And you start feeling like your life is a nightmare.

This is the way I feel. Absurdly, if I just had Depression I would have probably been cured long ago. My ex-husband had a major depressive episode, and in 6 months he was back on his feet just like nothing ever happened.

I’ve been in therapy for more than three years now. I feel the difference, I do, but it’s not enough. It’s so not enough, I can’t help but wonder how long is it still going to take. I may have started very slow, I admit that. I was completely unable to see my inner self, anything that was wrong could come out solely as anger, anxiety and control issues. The problem is, I’ve learned to uncover everything, I see the issues, I see my weaknesses, I recognise separate feelings… but it feels like I’ve been left here bare naked just looking at myself. Now is the time when I’m supposed to start working on my issues, and it feels like I’m not doing this at all.

The fact that I had to wait for 6 months to start group sessions hasn’t helped. I keep feeling on pause. Waiting for something to come, while my life is wasted away.

It also feels like everyday some new issue arises. There must be some eternal well throwing up shit inside myself, and every time I dig deeper I find larger shit fields. I wonder if I actually invent them, if I have my little illegal shit plantation with irrigation systems, red light lamps and all. First came insecurity, then mommy issues, then guilt for my divorce, then love addiction. They may all stem from the same fountain, but I’m no closer to finding a solution, now that they have been uncovered.

I read. That’s my personal, self-managed therapy. And oh, the pages I have read! It seems that experts are only ever interested in teaching. You can find hundreds of pages describing conditions, and not a single one offering solutions. I read the most exhilarating today. Well, no exhilarating is unfair, it’s good advice, it’s just so useless for me. They connect love addiction to low self-esteem (okay) and basically tell you that in order to defy the addiction you have to believe in yourself. Now, there may be some people out there who have never actually thought about this before and needed someone to tell them, but it feels like someone telling me that water is wet. Mmm, gee, I hadn’t thought of that, now that you tell me I’ll start believing in myself!!

And it goes on saying how you can start believing in yourself and building your confidence by doing things, by seeing how you can do things that matter to you and feel stronger seing results. And this feels like having my leg pulled.

This may be my very personal problem, but I don’t have issues with what I do. I have issues with what I am.

I’m good at my job, when my mind isn’t preoccupied with all this mental nonsense, I’m a good skater, I’m a good photographer, I’m a good singer,  I bake wonderful cakes, I have a gift for languages, I park my car like a pro even though I’m a woman, I’m a half genius for anything practical and problem solving. But that is just what I do, it’s not what I am. What I am, what I feel, that’s wrong, that’s what’s missing, that’s what makes me feel inadequate.

I’ve been bombarded with this idea that anything good would come from an education, that my practical, intelligent mind is all I’ve ever grown and nurtured. I felt I could be appreciated only if I did good and that’s what I’ve always tried to do. Even now, after… all, I still want people to appreciate me for what I do. Because I try to compensate what I am now with what I do.

Reading about women with love addiction… it feels like I’ll never get out of it. It makes me angry that once again I have to thank my parents for this wonderful gift, it makes me angry to see how long it’s going to take to get better and that most of the times what happens is that women get out of relationships only to become addicted to the groups themselves.

And yet, I know this profile doesn’t fit me either. It’s always like I only reflect the image of the initial phases, I never get to the bone. Which is good, I suppose, because I’ve never been in a co-dependent relationship, I never let anyone mistreat me or hurt me physically, I realised years ago how love didn’t have to hurt. All in all, I chose my partners wisely. I may have stuck with some people longer than I should have, but never really to a fault. I still maintain my boyfriends were all decent or good.

That in itself would be praised as a very good starting point. I know, I see it that way too. Fact is, I want more.

I suspect, that the status in which I am in is the aim of several people with much greater issues than mine. Which I still don’t know if it’s possible to consider a good thing. I’m afraid it works like a diet. It’s easy to shed pounds when you start a diet, when your weight is so excessive that just a minor reduction in food intake brings along very visible results. Then you get to the point when you’re not so excessively fat anymore, but you’re not slender either and pounds just won’t leave you anymore.

I also always tend to succumb to exhaustion when I’m really close to the destination. I’m no good with last efforts. I hope this is it.

Is there more?

While reading one of the blogs I follow (thank you for the inspiration, Megan!), I happened to ask myself the same question. Is there more to me than my mental issues?

Formally, I suppose the answer is yes; if someone with hepatitis, cancer or diabetes is a person regardless of their conditions, so am I. Funny how I unconsciously chose chronic or deadly diseases for the comparison.

A little less formally, it’s not so easy. Of course there are sides of my character that are unrelated to these issues, but my perception of my character is way too focussed.

In the process of opening up to Andrew I can’t help asking myself how I’m presenting myself, what is there for him to find out and know about me. Of course there are habits, hobbies, activities, likings and more than 30 years of past to talk about and that comes naturally. Then there is the person: our dreams, our hopes, our reactions, our secrets, our weaknesses, our fears. In that, I see close to nothing more than my issues.

My dreams and hopes are somehow distorted by my issues, my secrets are all about this, let’s not even discuss weaknesses and fears. Everyone has weaknesses and fears, but not everyone calls them issues. I tend to call issue every negative aspect of my character, I blame everything that doesn’t work in me on my issues.

I can’t seem to look at the whole as a superior entity: there are facts about my life and then there are the issues. I feel like I am nothing more than my issues. I feel like I can offer nothing more than my issues.

But if I think about it really closely, instead of just listening to the louder voice in my brain, it’s not so true.

I am honest, even when I should lie a little more, I just can’t.
I am trustworthy and loyal. Because I just am, and I think it’s right to be it.
I can make people laugh; it might be a coping mechanism to shield my shyness but it’s still true that I enjoy making people laugh and it comes natural to me.
I understand people. I would like to state that I am a good listener too, but that’s something only other people can confirm. But I am more than sure that I can see everybody’s point of view and give good advice accordingly, because if there is one thing I’ve taught my brain well is analysing pros and cons.

I should think about this much more often, repeat this as a mantra every single morning, to make sure I remember I am worth something, I am not just a tangle of paranoia and low self-esteem.

As for weaknesses and flaws, those I still think correspond to my issues.

Provided that I have issues, I look at all my life bearing in mind that my psyche does not work properly and that I have to over analyse and second guess every emotion or thought or feeling I experience. I tell myself I need to do this in order to truly understand what’s going on, under the constant suspicion that my own mind is playing tricks on me. Every time I am weak, I blame my issues. Hence, I exhaust myself thinking the issues are everywhere and never shrinking, that I will never be able to eradicate them, that my life will never be “normal” until I do.

Sometimes though, I wonder if I’m overstepping. I wonder if I know too much, if I’m just hiding behind a more or less comfortable cover up. I blame my issues for everything, so much so, I almost think that if I could defeat my issues completely, my life would be free of worry and bad thoughts.

I used to be blind, true, I used to be clueless as to where some reactions and thoughts came from whereas now, I recognise the path as clearly as a directory. But maybe I should not fall in the opposite pit.

There must be a threshold. Some of my paranoias, maybe all of them, are common to most people, maybe just not as intense, or maybe others aren’t so sensitive to the same topics as I am. How do I recognise the threshold between sane and insane, between the longed-for normality and dysfunction?

It’s all about the serenity prayer: how do I know what I need to change and what I should actually accept? I feel defeated in this battle against my issues, because they seem ever-present, they look untouchable, unassailable. What if they are? What if part of them is just the fundamental core of human heart?

Am I fighting the wrong war, all geared up with armour, sword and shield when all I’d need is a mirror?

Or patience.

Maybe in all of this, my only real problem is impatience. As for many other things, I blame myself for not being able to see things clearly from the start, for understanding things a little too late. Maybe it’s not late at all, maybe it’s the right time, and I wouldn’t need to blame myself for not seeing them sooner, because sooner they weren’t there at all, they were only still cooking. You can’t tell whether the soup is good before it’s ready, you need to wait until it’s done, if you taste it too soon, it will always be bad. Because sometimes only time can tell, and flogging myself with a thousand questions a second is completely useless.

Maybe I can trust myself with my judgement, because all I need is to listen to my mind saying “enough”. All the rest is jibber jabber.