It’s pretty much how I felt when I walked out of the GP surgery this afternoon. It was clear to me as soon as I walked in the room that the GP was unhappy with how I’m doing. The consultation was getting more and more terse. The frown on her face subtly deepened each passing minute. Eventually she leaned back on her chair and sighed.
“I think I’m going to have to make a referral to psychiatry,” she announced.
She was worried that I was having periods of hypomania. She was worried that I would need to be re-diagnosed with bipolar disorder. True, most people don’t impulse-propose to a guy they’ve been dating for a month or buy a phone within four seconds of deciding they want one without at least some research. Though I insisted that I had so far suffered no catastrophic consequences (he said yes, after all, and the phone works), when I left the consultation room her posture remained tense. Her parting words were sombre.
Walking home, I felt myself scrutinising and re-evaluating my identity. Pre-Depression Ruth indeed had periods where she was exuberantly happy, laughed a million times in a day, made decisions on a whim, behaved without inhibition. Pre-Depression Ruth also had periods where it felt as if colour and vibrancy were all but sucked out of life. Pre-Depression Ruth sometimes lash out unfairly in irritation.
I had thought of Exuberantly Happy Ruth as a normal part of my identity. Sure, some people are irritated by excessive cheerfulness at eight in the morning and, yes, maybe I had made one or two or twenty out-of-character decisions without much pre thought. At times I take on a hundred and one responsibilities for most of it to fall through a short while later. An ex had confessed to me once that the thing that attracted him at first was my bubbly personality. In a sea of people drowning in low self-esteem, I was jubilant when mine skyrocketed.
I had liked Exuberantly Happy Ruth. My heart leaps in genuine joy when people tell me that my giddy happiness made their day a little better. It was even something I was looking forward to ‘getting back’ after the long depressive stretch that landed me in the GP’s consulting room in the first place.
To be told that there is a possibility that Exuberantly Happy Ruth was pathological hit me hard. I questioned whether she was a ‘real’, healthy, physiological part of my personality. I trundled through memories of highs with the lens of hindsight asking “is it Ruth? Is it hypomania? Who knows.” I felt like the identity I once knew was stripped from me. The long wait till the psychiatric assessment and the undoubtedly longer diagnostic process adds more uncertainty to the newly unfamiliar Exuberantly Happy Ruth.
So I’m a bit confused, to say the least. Life throws a curveball or two. I guess it’s time to adapt to this one.