|Biographical Non-Fiction posted March 16, 2009||Chapters:||...49 50 -51- 52...|
Finally, Valerie is diagnosed with P
A chapter in the book A Leaf on the Wind
Another Family Conference
Diagnosed with PSTD and BPD Valerie has a lot to deal with.
Sexually abused as a child, Valerie grows into an adult with severe psychological problems. Hospitalized, she is finally diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder and Post Traumaic Stress Disord
"If you ever start feeling like you have the goofiest, craziest, most dysfunctional family in the world, all you have to do is go to a state fair. Because five minutes at the fair, you'll be going, 'you know, we're alright. We are dang near royalty.'
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Life on a psychiatric ward is fascinating and very well organized; breakfast at 8:00, 9:00 meds, 9:15 morning exercise followed by group therapy, a thirty-minute break, then an afternoon filled with more group therapy, and ending with individual therapy sessions. And I am pleased to announce, there are no basket weaving classes.
I met my primary physician, who I will call Dr. P, a few minutes after exercise. I was both surprised and impressed that he actually read my file before our meeting, sparing me the tedious ordeal of having to answer the same questions a second time.
Dr. P told me he had scheduled me for several tests. However, when he informed me I would also be given an IQ test, I responded with an emphatic, "NO."
Seeing the surprised expression on his face, I felt an explanation was in order.
"IQ tests are overrated and serve no purpose other than to make a person feel inferior if the score is low, or inflate one’s ego if it is high."
I continued my protest but finally relented after Dr. P made it very clear the test was not an option.
To avoid further argument, Dr. P quickly changed the subject.
“You were abused by your father when you were a child,” Dr P noted. “This is something we will need to talk about.”
Shocked and confused, I asked, "Who told you that?"
Dr. P responded with, "You did."
"That's not possible. This is the first time we've spoken."
"No. I met you in the ER when you were admitted."
Shit! The gaps were really becoming a problem. Talking in detail about what my father had done to me was something I had always avoided, and Dr. P's question made me feel like someone had just ripped a scab off a deep, painful wound.
"I don't like talking about that." I said, staring down at the floor.
"I understand, but if we are to get to the root of what is going on inside your head, you need to try."
Reluctantly, I agreed to try, then said, "Don't expect too much from
To my utter amazement, by the end of the second week, I had completely opened up about my father’s abuse. It was as though the dam had burst. However, there was a price to pay; I was consumed with so much anger by the end of every session, I often went back to my room and punched my fist into the wall. When I broke two fingers, Dr. P upped the dosage on my medication.
Dr. P suggested the gaps in time were the result of a condition called dissociative identity disorder. I disagreed.
"Yes, I lose time and sometimes do strange things during the gaps, but I never change into someone else. Most of the time, no one even notices a change in my behavior. I am always Valerie. The gaps must be related to my epilepsy."
After more tests, hours of therapy, and several consultations with other doctors, Dr. P finally diagnosed me with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and Borderline Personality Disorder. Now it was official; I was nuts.
After six weeks in the hospital, Dr. P was hesitant to release me without a support system on the outside.
“We will, of course, continue therapy on an outpatient basis, but you need someone to be there for you,” Dr P explained. “Sending you home with no one to turn to is just asking for trouble. I would like to have a conference with your family. Do you think they will come if I ask them?”
“You have to be kidding."
I shook my head and sighed in disbelief.
"For six weeks I've been telling you my family IS my problem, and you are suggesting I turn to them for help?"
Dr. P shrugged his shoulders, and said, "What other options do you have?"
Grudgingly, I agreed, then added, "You can tell them about my diagnosis of PTSD and BPD. You can tell them I am stressed, frustrated, and confused. You can even tell them I'm crazy, but you CANNOT tell them about my epilepsy, night terrors, hallucinations or gaps in time! They will use it against me, and make my life even more miserable.
I hesitated then I added, “One more thing, tell them they all come or not to bother.”
Dr. P agreed to my conditions.
The idea of sitting in a room with my family terrified me. I didn't expect anything good would come from putting me in a room with my family. It was a bad idea and I knew it.
On the day of the conference, I was too nervous to eat breakfast. I stayed in my room all morning wondering what would happen when I finally saw my family. Would I lose my temper and do something stupid, or, would my family finally embrace me? They never showed any compassion for me in the past, but deep down, I hoped they would finally be the family I so desperately wanted them to be.
At noon, Dr. P and Marilyn came into my room to tell me my family was in the conference room waiting for me.
Filled with terror I replied, “I don’t think I can do this.”
“Don’t worry. We will be there with you.” Dr P assured me. “Before we start, I will set the ground rules, no yelling, no accusations and no cursing. Anyone who cannot abide by the rules will have to leave.”
Although Dr. P’s words did not reassure me, I nodded and said, “Okay.”
As the three of us walked toward the big conference room at the end of the hall, I turned to Dr. P, winked, and said, “If you want, you can slip a note to Teresa telling her I have an IQ of 152, that will really piss her off.”
The three of us laughed as we approached the conference room.
Seeing my family sitting on the opposite side of the table reminded me of a similar meeting years ago.
Although I tried to appear calm, I was sure everyone in the room could hear my heart pounding. My throat was dry, and I could feel my body tremble as I sat down.
Dr. P introduced himself and Marilyn.
He paused briefly, then went on to say, “I am pleased you have come today. I am not here to point a finger or place blame on anyone. The point of this meeting is to determine if you are willing to participate in Valerie’s recovery. I am concerned that she have a good support system in place when she goes home. The first step to a successful recovery is having family and friends willing to help.”
Dr. P stated I had been diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and Borderline Personality Disorder. He then briefly explained the symptoms.
In order to avoid making eye contact with me, Mom, Denise, Mary and Teresa stared directly at Dr. P . My heart was beating so hard my chest hurt. I took a deep breath and prayed this would be over soon.
“Valerie and I have talked at great length about her childhood; specifically about her father,” Dr P explained. “Is anyone here aware of any abuse by your father?”
I was impressed. Dr. P was careful not to put them on the defensive. He posed the questions in a tactful, non-threatening manner.
Teresa shook her head and, in a voice empty of emotion said, “No, as far as I know Daddy never abused Valerie or anyone else in the family.”
Denise stared down at the floor, shook her head, and said, “No.”
Mom put her arm around Denise to comfort her and said, “No. I am not aware of him doing anything like that.”
Sensing the anger building in me, Marilyn reached over and took hold of my hand.
Then Mary spoke.
“I am speaking for everyone when I tell you that we are all tired of Valerie using Daddy as an excuse to go off the deep end. Yes, he was an alcoholic, but Valerie is lying when she says he molested her. The four of us have talked about this at great length, and if it comes down to a choice between Mom or Valerie, we choose Mom.”
Mary's statement shocked me. No one was asking them to choose.
“Valerie has been the black sheep of the family her whole life. Her temper and absurd accusations of abuse have ruined every family gathering she has attended. I cannot tell you how nice the past three years have been since she stopped coming around. Take my word for it when I say, we have not missed her. As far as we are concerned, we don’t care if we never see her again.”
I had nothing to say. I felt as though I had been shot in the chest with a burning arrow. The room started to spin. Sure I was about to pass out, I got up and ran out of the room. However, I didn't pass out. Halfway down the hall I stopped and leaned against the wall. Tears streamed down my cheeks as I realized I really was all alone. They sincerely believed I was the bad guy and they were the victims. I was tired of fighting and I was tired of being angry. I just wanted to close my eyes and never wake up. Maybe then, I could finally get the peace I had spent my whole life searching for.
I slid slowly down the wall, and with my head resting against my knees, a lifetime of sadness poured out of me. I cried until I had no more tears left.
I stayed in my room the rest of the day. At dinnertime, Marilyn and Dr. P came in and sat on the bed beside me.
Pointing to my tray, Marilyn said, “You need to eat something.”
“I am not hungry,” I replied.
“Valerie, I wish I could tell you to forget what happened today, but I know that is impossible,” Marilyn said. “You probably don’t want to hear this now, but your family is also a victim of your father. I honestly believe your strength frightens them. You remind them of what they have spent their whole lives trying to forget. What they have done to you is wrong and inexcusable, but you cannot let them destroy you. You are strong. I know you can get through this.”
Dr. P surprised me. Normally not one to judge or point a finger of blame, he said, “The best advice I can give you is to have nothing more to do with your family. They are in a serious state of denial and Marilyn is right, you are the reminder of things they want to forget. They cannot agree with you or offer any support because, to do so, would be to admit their whole life has been a lie. I doubt they will ever do that.”
I never had a close relationship with my family but listening to Dr. P, I felt as though I had just learned my entire family had died in a car crash. I felt alone before, but this was different. The room suddenly became very cold and I started to shiver. I lay down on the bed, closed my eyes and began to cry.
My soft whimpering quickly became loud sobs making it difficult to breath.
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