Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Bipolar2 & PTSD:Must they come together?

Reporting live from the SF BakingCo.'s computer - the space bar blows,soifwordssometimes run together, that's why. Space Takes Effort Here.


In 1996, in a series of rounds with various shrinks as I vainly attempted to find a "softer, gentler way" than bipolar disorder, I had a meeting with a cat who told me, that in addition to having Adult ADD (jury's still out on that,) I also had Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder - aka "PTSD." I was instantly taken aback, and responded with words that have rung in my ears ever since:

"What trauma?"

Think about it -when you think of PTSD, your first thought is probably the Viet Nam war. Mine was. *THAT'S* trauma, baby: killing babies in rice paddies,fighting an absurd war for a bunch of Cold Warshit-heads,going from rural jungle to fight to basecamp to party - admittedly,I know nothing about the VietNam war, just what I saw in movies, but Viet Nam and PTSD have become almost synonymous - and what could my relatively safe and sound middle-class life have offered me that I could be a civilian victim of shell-shock?

The answer, it seems, might be - not much.

Trauma is a problematic term, in that respect. Violence, war, aggravated rape, repeated sexual abuse - all these situations sound like ripe breeding grounds for a PTSD diagnosis. Parental divorce, bad grades in school, a certain sense of "never belonging," - again,these are common middle class problems and I had them - again,so where's the trauma?

I can't cite anything specific that I've read (it'sa blog,stupid) but let's just say that in my travels, I've come to understand that there are two kinds of trauma - what I call "acute trauma" (which includes all the wars and assaults) and what I call "localized" trauma -things that happen to you that don't seem like much in comparison to the acute kind, but which stay with you nonetheless.

And - if you already have a genetic pre-disposition to a major mental disorder (which it seems like I have),these localized traumas *may* actually have the power to contribute to onset of that disorder.

Which would make sense - the period surrounding my onset in 1994 was without a doubt a totally stressful period. So trauma = PTSD = onset of BPD? Something like that - again, remember -*it's a blog.*

Meantime, here's another theory, posed to me by my "family shrink" Peter, and maybe grounded in actual study, perhaps just a total guess - the experiences brought on by being bi-polarmay be stressful enough on their own to create and/or add to the existing pool of PTSD fodder. So dig this equation:

trauma = PTSD = onset of BPD = more trauma = more PTSD = more BPD symptoms.

See what I'm getting here? A symbiotic relationship for chaos - which is great if you'd like your life to always be like a bad movie - terrible if you'd like to entertain, as I occasionally do - A Way Out of this Movie.

So. My last client (don't make me tell you) showed me that lurking beneath the surface of the nice clothes and pile of meds is a terrified person in desperate fear of being in trouble. Lord knows, I should be used to it by now,and at this point I've been so exposed as I fight my way towards getting paid...I can'teven tell you what a stressful scenario it'sbeen

But lately, I've been thinking that the PTSD parts of my psyche need something. And today, I have a Somatic Experiencing session. I'll let you know how it goes.