Home Anxiety Personality and Bipolar Disorders, Is It Me or Them?

Personality and Bipolar Disorders, Is It Me or Them?

by Dr. Marie Hartwell-Walker

I am a 25 year old female that has come a long way. I was diagnosed as bipolar at age 18; from there I was institutionalized on many occasions by the age of 21. I was in such a bad condition that when my mother applied for disability on my behalf I was accepted immediately. I was told people are normally denied on their first attempt. The challenge was to find the right medication that would control my depression, insomnia, and suicidal/homicidal thoughts. At age 22, I was placed on Lamictal and Seroquel. I was able to cope, I recently graduated with an A.S. degree as summa cum laude and I received the president’s cup. I have earned various I.T. certifications and I am now studying to be a biomedical engineer. School has been difficult for me, not so much as learning but working in groups or speaking in front of the class. I am not fond of school but I want to earn more money so I can purchase a house in the country. I would have never pictured my life changing in this matter; for the first time in my life, I can honestly say I want to live.

The only negative thing is a recent diagnosis of having a personality disorder at age 23; I care not to name this disorder because I don’t want to limit myself but I was told it’s a very passive disorder. This does not surprise me, I am uncomfortable in social gatherings, I live alone, and although I have a decent job I dread finding new employment as I would have to be social. I currently work 3rd shift by myself, if I am not there I am in school, at the gym, or home; I like the way I live my life.

Now, the issue at hand: last week, someone keyed my vehicle. I just got that vehicle it is a sports car Mazda6 2010, it is my first car and I worked hard to earn money and balance my bills. I didn’t even want this vehicle I just wanted a car to get me to and from my destination without breaking down. My mother persuaded me into getting it; she drives a Chrysler 300 and she is very materialistic. This incident has thrown my entire process off-balanced. I can’t sleep, I don’t know how I feel but something just isn’t right.

I don’t care about the vehicle or that someone keyed my car; only that I didn’t deserve it. I stay to myself, I rarely speak, and I haven’t done anything wrong to anyone. After the incident I put a $500 dollar security system in my car that takes pictures of people near my vehicle. Against my better judgment, that same day I brought a gun. I know I shouldn’t have but my homicidal thoughts are back in full force. I am tired of people doing things to me when I haven’t wronged anybody. I keep the gun in my glove compartment it’s not considered concealed there.

This is not a good situation so my question is how do I control this? Although I am not that fond of people, I don’t want to hurt anybody but I can’t stop thinking about getting even. It’s frustrating when people just won’t leave me alone. I believe I am a good person to a certain extent (psychological flaws), I am trying to live a somewhat peaceful, normal, and decent life. I don’t want to throw it all away, because I know I would definitely shoot it out if things took a turn for the worse. I don’t want to tell my psychiatrist that I am having these thoughts she may try to hospitalize me; I don’t need that right now, so is there anything I can do to try and help myself? The ironic thing about this situation is, society will portray me as the psychologically damaged individual; everyone else is innocent.

First: Congratulations on all your hard work to meet your goals. I’m sure it hasn’t been easy to achieve so much in school when academic environments are so difficult for you. Do take pride in that. You deserve to feel very, very good about it.

As you well know from your own experience, people can do exceptionally well in some areas of life and still have issues in others. From what little you were able to share in a short letter, I suspect that taking responsibility for your own decisions is a struggle for you. Your mother couldn’t “make you” buy a car you don’t want. An anonymous stranger who keyed your car didn’t “make you” think you had to buy an elaborate security system or a gun. Other’s can’t “make you” obsess about revenge. As you rightfully point out, you could lose everything you have worked so hard for if you don’t get hold of this issue.

I’m not very impressed by labels. Whatever the diagnosis, you need to work with your psychiatrist to learn some new ways to cope with being in a world inhabited by sometimes thoughtless (and sometimes even mean) people. You take things very personally – even when there is no reason to think they are personal. You then go over and over your hurt and anger until you work yourself up into quite a dangerous rage.

Even when you aren’t feeling targeted, you don’t know how to fit into the social world. Isolating yourself and limiting contact with other people is one strategy for reducing your stress, but it doesn’t help you learn to manage those times when you simply have to interact. Unless you go out into a desert and live as a hermit, interacting wtih others and sometimes being slighted or misunderstood is part of the human condition.

If your psychiatrist only presecribes medication and doesn’t provide some talk therapy as well, I strongly urge you to find yourself a psychotherapist to help you learn the skills you need to function with others. You’re a smart person. When you are determined, you do what you have to do to learn things. There’s every reason to think that a combination of medicine and some therapy will help you feel more in charge of your own decisions and less anxious around others.

I wish you well.
Dr. Marie

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