So I finally got my first interview with an actual Doctor - and it's not great.
First, this is a small understaffed and underfunded clinic - as things are here in Louisiana. It's old, dirty, leaks when it rains, hot and stuffy the rest of the time. It combines a mental health program with a rehab center. It smells bad - not only just of wet and peeling old paint, but of desperation and resignation - it's where people who don't have any other options go - like me.
More below the dooblyboo.
My Mum insisted they both go as a "show of support" rather than my Dad driving me like last time, or letting me drive myself in my own car. We all brought books to read in the run down waiting room - and even though I had an appointment, I wasn't called until an hour later. I think she honestly thought she would be invited in to Mumsplain how everything was just fine and I'm just lazy and selfish. She was not. Nor did I give them any recap of what was discussed or what my diagnosis is. Still haven't. Don't want drama. When I came out of my appointment and there was a wait while they filled my scripts - Mum actually asked me in all seriousness, "So did they start with 'tell me about your childhood?' Does he have a couch?" Because they are ignorant and don't believe in mental illness as an actual thing unless you are screaming about bugs in your arms or wearing a tinfoil hat.
A third year medical student walked me back to the doctor's office. He didn't introduce himself, nor did the doctor. They had the copy of my medical records I had send them - but hadn't read them past my name. So I had to start explaining, once I found out who they both were.
So we talked. The doctor was interesting. He asked good questions, allowed me to express, clarify, ask questions. The poor med student just sat there with his eyes getting bigger and bigger. The doctor flattered me a little - told me I was interesting. I liked that.
We threw bipolar out the window. I have some tests to do next time and some blood work (which I suspect is not only to check my med levels but a drug test) but we've pretty much decided on a couple things:
I am autistic. But I knew that already.
I have OCD. Which I also knew already, but have worked out ways to keep in check to some degree. I don't venture out in the house much past the kitchen, and clean that twice a day.
I hit most of the diagnostic points for Borderline Personality Disorder.
I may be mildly schizophrenic.
He had the med student show me the criteria for BPD after I balked a little at that - but I think that was because I had a very unclear concept of what it is. But it does make sense with the history of job fails, school fails, relationship fails - though I'm happily light on suicide attempts and cutting - I do go anorexic and have severe abandonment issues. I'm also very aware when things are not right, but not always able to stop them.
The schizophrenia thing - it actually bothered me less than BPD. Probably because it would terrify my parents if I told them - and they need to be terrified in order to get it through to them that yelling at me to "snap out of it" or randomly saying they love me after screaming at me isn't going to help. Ever. Because that's what they think helps.
It's the voices and the birds and the constant music - things I've lived with my whole life and sort of consider a bonus round rather than a bug. I don't have voices telling me to do things, they just keep me company. They don't get upset when I blather on about Doctor Who or this thing I read or the video I watched 15 times in a row. They just keep me company. I don't mind.
We talked for a good two hours before scheduling another appointment for next month and getting meds sorted. I get my meds right there at the clinic for free. I'm on Tegretol - a mood stabilizer - and they gave me the real thing, not the crap generics. Boy is there a difference! I'm also recycling back onto an antidepressant I've been on before that doesn't make me as sick as many others - Lexapro. We'll see how that goes.
I will have a therapist - they don't have anyone trained in CT, but he thinks they can at least try to help me - he also thinks that finishing my degree should be an eventual goal because I'm smart and it might help counter some of the negativity of mental illness diagnosis in the work world.
I don't really know what to tell my parents or how to handle the possibility that I may be here longer than I planned. I don't know how this will affect my application for SSDI or even what to do with the information. I don't know how this will affect my ability to find work in the future. And I don't know how it will affect my ability to get the hell out of here and go home.
I still have my goals - get better, go home, finish boat repairs, sail away. But right now I'm going to be stuck here a while and it scares me.