At 10 a.m., in just under an hour, I answered the 567 true or false questions on the MMPI. Prior to that, I spent three exhausting hours rehashing my recollection of the last 38 years of my life. Tomorrow, I'm scheduled to take the MCMI-III and the TSI.
This testing was ordered by my psychiatrist at my request, following the recommendation of my therapist. I made the decision to request a diagnostic re-evaluation based on several factors.
Factor one: I haven't experienced a clinical manic episode in over ten years since I was taken off anti-depressants in 2006.
Factor two: All previous manic episodes or clinical lability coincides with either prescribed medications, or use of substances (both legal and illegal) known to induce mood swings in those with affective disorders.
Factor three: The forced narrative of acute mental illness projected on me in childhood doesn't match my less-than-glowing self-disclosure of behavior, which multiple therapists have deemed age-appropriate. The negative behaviors I report are better explained by the traumatic nature of my childhood environment, e.g., abuse, neglect, isolation, lack of socialization support, and extreme rigidity.
Factor four: In the last year and a half, I have lived entirely free of psychopharmaceutical intervention without the presence of either depressed or heightened affective states while managing an excessively stressful life event and its consequent adverse effects.
Factor five: I broke off all contact with my mother a year ago and I've never felt healthier or more self-actualized.
Factor six: Since Mr. PNU's stroke, he has been awarded SSDI benefits. My children are receiving dependent benefits. Because of social security family allocation limits, my own benefits have been reduced to $38 a month.
In short, I have nothing to lose by taking a closer look at my diagnosis. In the reclamation of narrative, I'd say these steps are simply the empowering cap that stops up forty years of someone else's version of my reality. So far my assessor is in complete agreement; Bipolar I—unless in prolonged remission—doesn't fit. He is especially curious to see how I score on the TSI, which measures levels of PTSD.
The full diagnostic re-evaluation should be completed in full within the week.