I don't think I want to do either.
As for that whole bipolar thing, I did end up talking to my doctor and I did end up talking to not one, but TWO psychologists (I was getting a little frustrated with that whole finding the right person process, so I decided to get a little polygamous and improve my odds). After talking to my GP, she seemed utterly convinced that bipolar disorder was a more accurate diagnosis.
I'm not really sure how I feel about this. I think that as someone who works in healthcare, I enjoy labeling things. I find comfort in grouping symptoms together. It was kind of a relief to have a diagnosis that to me, made my life suddenly make a little more sense. I was equally saddened, though. Old MD Girl mentioned in a comment that she thought I knew I was bipolar, but that I didn't bring it up because of the associated stigma. She's right. Depression isn't much of a big deal anymore, but telling someone I'm bipolar?
"Well, I used to think I was just sort of whimsical. Turns out I'm actually seriously nuts."
I dread the day that I encounter another physician (who is treating me) or am filling out some kind of college health form and have to list my medical history. I almost wonder if the stigma is actually worse in healthcare. In the ICU, it seems like the patients with a noted history of mental health issues are always the ones who are suspected of not being credible, of not being compliant, and that they may be trying to manipulate us. I'm not gathering this from any personal experiences I've had with these patients, I'm gathering it from my coworkers attitudes (my generally really kind, not terribly judgmental coworkers).
What's up with that?
Is it just a social norm? I hate to admit it, but I can't deny that I've been uncomfortable around patients who are admitted with psychiatric diagnoses, or that I've sometimes viewed them as somehow less human, as if they were a departing subspecies.
And now, is it reasonable for me to expect everyone to treat me the same way? I really haven't changed; all I've done is let someone slap a new label on me. I really worry that that label is going to follow me around, though. That even when there comes a day when I can come to terms with it and peel it off, there's still going to be all this residue; that even after I go after it with a razor blade and some goo gone, it's still going to be apparent that something was there.