Bipolar? Gender Identity Disorder?

By Daniel J. Tomasulo, PhD, TEP, MFA, MAPP

Hello.

This is practically my last stop, as I don’t know who else to ask. As you may know, my country doesn’t have many ‘good’ therapists. I’ve been through 4 already, and I still haven’t got the answer I need.

Sorry if the question is a bit too big, there are just too many things that shouldn’t be left out about me.

Basically, I like to picture myself as an inverted triangle, with the bottom edge being the regular me, and the two other edges being my two main ‘problems’.

One of those edges symbolizes the thing I’ve felt since I was a kid. Not belonging, not wanting to study, hating school, not being interested in any career. The part of me that’s always bored with this “normal” life.

I think I might have figured some things out by myself. First thing being my highly sensitive brain, and how that makes me see more than the exterior of people. I think of it as a gift, but it often makes me think people might be saying bad things about me. Most of the time, it doesn’t bother me at all; I just thought I’d point that out.

Anyways, another quality of mine that I think is linked to that is the fact that I can copy mostly every thing I hear, see or feel; be it from people, games or movies, there’s always something I take from those things and incorporate into myself. Then, after a while, I filter out the secondary things. I’ve come to accept that most of those things have shaped me into the person I am today.

I think of me as a chameleon. I can do practically everything, and I’m not saying it in a narcissistic kind of way, it’s just simply true. Whenever I feel like going out or meeting people, I do it, and I never fail. I can engage in conversation with anyone, and I’m able to examine them and analyze my surroundings while doing that.

Short example. If I watch a movie about cops, I’ll want to be a cop, and I’ll often act like the cops in that movie. Just small secondary actions, but still. Or, let’s say I’m playing a fighter jet game. The minute I close the game, I want to be a pilot. I feel the rush for flying through the skies and being part of something.

For the record, gender doesn’t matter. I can like being a male character the same as being a female one.

In that sense, I know I have a bit of a problem with reality. Sometimes, I get detached from it and wish I could have a less boring life. I know there’s absolutely no career for me that will give me the, sometimes even surreal, ‘action’ I want.

Now, on to the other edge of the triangle.

When I was 18, I stumbled upon the thought of being someone else. A girl, specifically. I looked up ‘mind transfer’, and found out something totally different. Turns out this feeling of being in the wrong body that I had, was Gender Identity Disorder. That’s what I thought at the time, anyways.

After doing a little retrospective, I remembered I used to go through mom’s clothes and try them on. This was probably between 10 and 13 years of age. Also, my father was hardly ever home. He used to have a public transport business back then, and he also drank heavily and scared mom and me whenever he was in a bad mood. I’m sure those things have left a scar in me, but oh well.

So, nowadays, whenever I look at a girl, makeup, clothes, even the word ‘girl’, I feel sad about being a man. At the same time, it doesn’t happen with women. Not above their 50s, at least. Something about youth and beauty, and the fear of not having it some day. In the end, I guess we’ll all have to worry about it when the time comes, it just scares me. The fact that I may not want to grow up and lose my ‘beauty’.

Beauty, that’s a word I relate to ‘girl’. Sometimes, I definitely know I still have what it takes to be a girl. Other times, I see every single thing that would work against me due to my age. Depends on the mood, I guess.

My last therapist told me that might have been a thought I created. A ‘safe-zone’, so to speak, and that I had to actually go out before I could make a decision. I always thought he was wrong, because at the time this thought came to my head, back when I was 18, I did had some friends and went out several times a week. Even though I had just finished high school and had given me a ‘free year’, I never spent most of my time alone.

For these past 5 years, I’ve always, always wanted to make sure I don’t make the wrong decision. That’s what hurts me too, most of the time. Thinking I should’ve just taken some hormones and get over with it. But I’m here now, and the past is, well, the past.

So, I did went out to see meet some people whom I shared some interests with. Those few times, I tried acting like ‘myself’, like a girl, and it was great. Like I said, I can start a conversation with mostly anyone, and it turned out to be a great night.

Still, whenever the other edge of the triangle comes into my mind, it makes me feel like ‘pretending’ to be a girl is just a way of lying to myself. In the end, I know how I behaved, and how great it felt. It’s just whenever I find new characters to extract some features from; I step out of the ‘girl’ mindset, just for some brief moments.

And so, I’m finally here. I’ve read about what I think is my condition, and there’s only one more thing standing in my way.

Do I have a Bipolar Disorder, or GID?

Some people say that GID can originate from Bipolar Disorder, and if that were the case, then I would be making the wrong decision by taking hormones. If it’s the other way around, and it turns out I have both things, I would honestly feel a lot more relieved.

That’s the only answer I’m looking for. The closure, who I really am. Again, sorry for making this question so big. I just had a lot of things in my head. I do have a lot of things. Most of the time.

A: It would be presumptuous of me to use the information you have given me to make a diagnosis, but I will say this. I greatly admire your resilience and perseverance in finding treatment for yourself. The fact that you keep searching, and working on finding a answer is not only admirable, but a clear strength of yours that is emerging. Perhaps that is the thing I can offer you. Regardless of what your diagnosis is you have strengths that are clear and present. I would strongly encourage you to take the signature strengths survey. I have written about it here and there is a link for you to take it from the article. This is the most widely known and used tool to focus on psychological strengths and characteristics. It is very detailed and will give you excellent information about yourself. It is free, and will take about 40 minutes to do.

While I am not denying the need for an accurate diagnosis, the need to focus on strengths has no downside, will enhance whatever your diagnosis is, and can be a real source of support for yourself.

Wishing you patience and peace,
Dr. Dan
Proof Positive Blog @ PsychCentral

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Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 15 Sep 2011

APA Reference
Tomasulo, D. (2011). Bipolar? Gender Identity Disorder?. Psych Central. Retrieved on October 24, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2011/09/15/bipolar-gender-identity-disorder/

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