"Fear of a name only increases fear of the thing itself."
Harry was referring to Voldemort as You-Know-Who, but Dumbledore gently told him to go ahead and say 'Voldemort,' because the "fear of the name only increases fear of the thing itself."
(I don't have a Harry Potter book on me to make absolutely sure the quote is right, so don't be all hatin' on me.)
Dumbledore is absolutely right. I remember reading that phrase, and holding onto the message in it. Call things for what they are, and they'll have less power over you. Needless to say, I'm not the best at it. It took me forever to acknowledge that what my dad did was abusive.
Rather, I should say "is doing, is abusive," because my little siblings still live at home. Until I hear that he's getting intensive therapy from a therapist that specializes in borderline and narcissistic personality disorders, until I hear that he's taking medicine from a psychiatrist specifically to deal with his PDs, until I hear that he's apologized for his abusive behavior and is making amends with my mom and my siblings, I'm going to assume he is still actively psychologically and emotionally abusing my siblings.
Anyway. Back to my point. Yesterday I found out the names Depression, PTSD, and Generalized Anxiety Disorder. The first two is really confirmation of what I already was diagnosed with, but the latter is a newer one. Names can become bad labels, kept secret and under cover for fear of stigma or discrimination, or they can be bluntly and honestly discussed in order to dispel the myths and ideas associated with the labels. I choose the latter. Why? Because fear of the name increases fear of the thing itself.
I went to the psychiatrist yesterday afternoon/evening (I never know when it officially becomes evening, timewise). I did okay in the morning, but as the clock ticked closer to 4:30, I was panicking about the appointment, unduly afraid that he won't believe me, that he'll say I'm making it all up. I snapped at Jeff, my husband (I'm sorry, sweetie). I could barely concentrate on school, Facebook, writing, or even washing the dishes. I ate a lot of cookies in the morning, but then my appetite and cravings suddenly went away. My stomach hurt. The fear was making me hurt all over, as if I ran a race. I think "psychosomatic" is the word for that.
I even filled out my paperwork in advance, having printed it off of their website, to save myself time (time I used for worrying.) When I arrived, I handed it to the receptionist, and she cheerfully copied my insurance card. (oh, blessed insurance!). Then I sat down in a large chair and played Solitaire on my phone, testing out my new glasses. I played Solitaire for 10 minutes, and then my eyes were tired so I stared at the plain walls for 10 minutes, until the psychiatrist was ready for me.
He was very friendly, and was glad my husband was able to call him. He was understanding that I couldn't hear over the phone well because I'm deaf, and was glad to hear that I could understand him perfectly, face-to-face. After I sat down on the black leather couch (is it a requirement that all psychiatrists and psychologists must have black leather couches?) I paused, gathering my thoughts for an indeterminable amount of time (or, about 5 seconds), then started talking.
I told him what was going on with my moods and emotions, that I suspect my medicines need to be tweaked. I told him I was feeling depressed and having PTSD symptoms. I'd been to counselors before, but I stopped when I reached a point where counseling wasn't effective anymore, because I couldn't remember more memories for me to talk about. The memories are there, I told him, because I remember them sometimes, but most of the time they're still locked up. I told him how I could remember more, and felt not anxious about it, if I drank wine. I drink only about 4 glasses a year--the wine was kind of an anomaly.
I told him that my dad has diagnosed depression, and undiagnosed BPD and NPD. That he is abusive, psychologically and emotionally. He asked if my dad was physically abusive, too. I hesitated. I don't know. He doesn't actually hit, but he picks up my siblings by one arm, hovering them a few inches off the ground, before spanking them hard. He physically forces them around. Basically, a bully. But see, physical abuse tends to describe hitting, while society still says that corporal punishment is not abusive. I say it's abusive because of the way my dad went about it, but I hesitated to say unequivocally that "yes, he is physically abusive."
I told him I had a cousin who had bad postpartum. I wanted to make sure he had that in his notes, in case I ever get pregnant, because I highly suspect I'll have that issue. I told him depression runs in the family--both sides. I don't know too many details, because there have been disownings going on, on both sides of the family.
"What about mom?" he asked. Mom? She came from an abusive household, too. I don't know what her mother has, but she was a distant person, disregarding my mother for most of her childhood. I suspect possibly BPD, but who knows? I've never met her. She married my dad young. She used to kind of stand up for us kids, a little bit. She would try to stand her ground, and that led to terrible clashes. Then, some years ago, my dad gave her a "joke" gift for Mother's Day, a self-help book called, "How to Change Your Husband." It was written by a Catholic cult leader in Alabama, and the opening scene in the book was of a husband bludgeoning his wife with a hammer, and the author praised the wife for submitting to her husband, and not divorcing or leaving him. I only learned these details fairly recently, but I did remember reading the back cover when my mom got the book and thinking, "Oh no, I've lost her." I told him my mom was a convert to Catholicism, and was very Catholic.
He asked if that meant she didn't believe in divorce or things like that. Yep.
I told him the ages of my siblings. Four little ones, still at home. One married, and his wife is expecting. That the married one takes after our dad, and had also disowned me. That I worry about the little ones every single day.
Do I have any contact with them? No. I had set boundaries to keep my parents from guilt-tripping me and trying to emotionally control me through their emails, and they didn't like that. So, they told me they weren't going to email unless I emailed. And I never saw reason to email them, because every time I did, I kept getting abused again. I tried to send cards and gifts to the little ones, but then my parents said that if I wasn't talking to them, I wouldn't be allowed to send stuff to my siblings. So, I don't know much about what's going on. I told him they also disowned a family friend who is a grandmother to us kids, the family friend who knew my mom longer than my mom knew my dad.
I gave him the background, so he knew what he was dealing with. Then we talked about my symptoms, my reactions to things in life. Was I irritable? Yes, often for no reason. I would try to recognize the irrational irritability, and work hard to keep myself from crabbing at people. Do I sometimes react to things that are triggers? Hell, yes. Do I have nightmares? Oh yes. Do I ever have mania episodes, where I have limitless energy and little need for food and sleep? No, but I wish. We talked about irrational fears. I knew I shouldn't worry, but I often worry about things, almost excessively or obsessively.
It was very strange--in a really nice way--that he understood what I was trying to explain about the fears. I always attributed it to PTSD, even if they were irrational or not really connected. Turns out it has a name. Generalized Anxiety Disorder. That name came as a relief--now I know what it was that made me constantly plan how to efficiently save my siblings should the car ever plunge off a bridge, to get them out before they drowned. How to save my siblings if the car crashed. How to survive an airplane crash. What it would be like to be run over by a car. Obsessive, irrational things.
It's so nice to know it has a name, because then I am better able to recognize it. And if I recognize it, I can try to work myself through it.
He told me counseling is the best thing for the PTSD. I told him that I plan to go back sometime, but I wanted to get my moods under control first, to make it easier to remember things to talk about them, to reprocess them before I can put the memories away in that locked box.
He may try anxiety medicines later on, but first, we're going to double my Lexapro dose. In six weeks, I'll go back and tell him if it worked perfectly, worked somewhat, if I'm still having anxiety symptoms, etc. Then we'll go from there. I know it's a process finding the right combination of medicines, but I am so relieved to finally start the process, and I look forward to the day when my moods are properly managed.