How Can I Find the Right Diagnosis and Treatment?

By Kristina Randle, Ph.D., LCSW

Q. I am a 25 y/o single mom. I have been in and out of counseling since the mid 1990′s, maybe even before then. The women in my family have all suffered from some type of depression disorder, my biological father suffers from several psych issues, and to what extent I don’t know he all but abandoned me at less than 3 years of age. I have a history of sexual abuse that is thought to date back to my infancy, though never proven. I have had sexual issues for as long as I can remember.

When I was 12 or 13 is when things really started falling apart (so to speak), I was removed from school and placed in an independent study program because I was found with several bruises on my hands, wrist, and forearms, along with marks from cutting off the blood flow to my wrist. My best friend told the school consoler who then informed my mother. I started taking medication at that time and talking with a therapist. I was so angry at my friend I told her that I hated her and that this was all her fault. A few months later my friend never came home one afternoon and then late that summer I was informed that they had found her body. Since then it seems that my life has been a rollercoaster of really high points and really low points. Less than a year after I found out about my friends death I was admitted in to a psych hospital for sever depression, and found out for the first time that my family suspected that my birth father had molested me when I was around 1 1/2 or so old. For awhile things seemed fine, I completed an o/p program. I stopped my meds because I felt better.

Then came the second anniversary of my friend’s death and I tried to OD for the first time I took a lot of pills and ended up very sleepy, I woke the next morning with a headache and feeling even lower than when I took the pills. A few months later I was raped by a friend’s boyfriend while she slept in the bed next to me. The next morning my friend’s mother through me out of the house calling me a whore, I walked to 2 miles or so to my home and didn’t tell anyone for almost a year that I was raped. Instead of dealing with my depression I drank and used drugs, I was only 16 at the time. My senior year in high school found me once again a victim of rape, but this time I told someone. I went back to consoling and this time was diagnosed Bipolar with rapid cycling. I stopped see a consular due to money issues. And while in college started using drugs again and sleeping with guys I barely knew.

Three years ago I gave birth to my son and thought that everything would be great. For almost the first year I was so busy dealing with my child’s medical problems I had little time to worry about mine. I took some thing for depression due to my child having major medical issues. After the things got pass the storm and we knew that the issues we face would not take my son from me, we (my family) discovered that there was more going on with me than I knew. I entered in to an open relationship with a man that would use a knife to carve his name on my body, and leave open wounds where he would bite me, I did this knowingly I felt no pain, and the fear was very little even with his hands around my throat. I went back to consoling for my child’s sake, and my DR diagnosed me bpd. Since that time I have been on again off again as far as find something that helps. I have lost custody of my son while I try and find a way to get the help I need and then just the other day I was told that BPD is just a personality thing that there is nothing really wrong with me. I want to find out how to make sure I am being diagnosed properly and set up the right treatment plan, so that I can get to a better place in my life and get full custody of my child back. Can you help?

A. You have lived through many traumas. It’s difficult to imagine what this must have been like for you. At the very least, you are probably living with post traumatic stress disorder and possibly other disorders. The best that you can do now, for both you and your child is to find a good therapist who you like and stay in therapy.

Your history of treatment, as per your letter, has been inconsistent. You said that even when you were very young, after completing a treatment program successfully you felt better so you stopped taking your medication. It is very common for individuals to stop treatment after he or she feels better. People usually think “I feel better. The treatment must have worked so I don’t need it anymore, I am fixed.” Usually people say that they feel okay temporarily after stopping treatment but then the same problem that led him or her to seek help begins to reemerge. It is always a bad idea to make the decision to end treatment on your own, without consulting your doctor.

You need to be consistent and remain in treatment no matter how good you feel, at least until you’re absolutely certain the treatment is no longer needed. Based on your letter, you are far from this point. I make this assertion for two reasons. Not long ago, you were engaged in a relationship with a man who hurt you for his pleasure and you also recently lost custody of your child.

Your child needs a parent who is mentally stable and emotionally healthy. If your child witnesses you acting erratically or behaving in an out-of-control manner, he or she is likely to mimic this behavior. Your child may come to emulate your reaction to situations and begin to act this way on his or her own. This is why you need to make a commitment to helping yourself and getting yourself mentally well. This may take time, in fact it may take years but it is something that you absolutely need to do. It starts with getting yourself into counseling with a therapist who you like and who is skilled in therapy and then staying in treatment. That is how you begin working to help yourself to regain custody of your child. Please keep me updated about how you are doing. I wish you luck.

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Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 21 Jul 2008

APA Reference
Randle, K. (2008). How Can I Find the Right Diagnosis and Treatment?. Psych Central. Retrieved on September 17, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2008/07/21/how-can-i-find-the-right-diagnosis-and-treatment/