I’m Nixy, a 33 year old writer, blogger and advocate from Ontario, Canada. I identify as gender neutral (preferring they/them pronouns). I’ve been vocal about self advocacy since my middle school years when I came out as gay to a select group of friends and started a ten year period of gay bashing by my peers. It didn’t end until I was well out of high school.
As well, I’ve struggled since the age of 18 with my family doctor repeatedly mis-diagnosing me, leading to many years of being forced onto medications for a disorder I did not have, as well as his refusal to medicate the most severe and debilitating disorder that I do have. It took me from the age of 21 until now to battle my way through the Ontario healthcare system and mental health services before someone finally listened to me and what I had to say.
It’s difficult when all doctors hear is a patient who doesn’t want to be on their medication – or at least, that was the assumption. I wanted to be on the correct medication for the correct diagnosis. When no one else would stand up for me, I stood up for me, because I knew deep down that I was onto something and that this something was being missed by every single medical professional I saw – from neuropsychologists to psychiatrists; psychologists to therapists; and everyone in between.
My interest in psychology happened because I wasn’t given the information that I needed upon being given some severe diagnosis’s – including complex post traumatic stress disorder – as well as several anxiety disorders. My information at the time came from a medical book my mother had whose name evades me. It had information on every single illness there was and a section at the end of each illness’ information stating ‘when to go to the hospital’ as well as ‘what to expect when heading to the hospital’. This book taught me a lot, but also helped me develop traits of obsessive compulsive disorder and hypochondria/hypochondriasis (known now, in the DSM-5, as health anxiety (illness anxiety disorder) or a secondary disorder called somatic symptom disorder).
As an avid reader, and someone whose brain sucked up information like a sponge, I spent hours trying
to figure out what was ‘wrong’ with me that my doctor couldn’t seem to figure out. He was content
with “you have anxiety, you have depression” and leaving it at that, while throwing every single anti-depressant medication under the sun at me in hopes that something stuck. Eventually I was able to be seen by a psychiatrist specialising in anxiety disorders, as well as a psychiatrist specialising in personality disorders (specifically, BPD – borderline personality disorder).
My life changed after that. I went into treatment for BPD, which was DBT (dialectal behavioural therapy, a cognitive therapy created by Marsha Linehan) used in a group therapy format. It took a year longer than most DBT groups (usually you’re in DBT for six months, however more severe or complex cases can be in the DBT program for upwards to a year and change) but once I completed the treatment, I could see huge improvements in how I was as a person, how I now effectively used my coping skills (such as distress tolerance and emotion regulation). It might have taken me awhile longer than it takes most, but once some of the DBT skills just clicked I was off on a path of mindfulness and effective behaviour.
As well, I became sober and am now 4 years sober (as of August 2018) and that has helped considerably. I am several years recovered from anorexia (restrictive subtype). Who I am today is not who I was in 2011, 2014 and 2016. Another big change that helped me become who I am today: I stopped letting negativity and toxic people into my life; once I freed myself of malignant narcissists and emotional vampires, my life changed drastically. I was free to be who I wanted to be, without the constant put downs, criticism and jealousy that these people surrounded me with.
Instead, I was surrounded by opportunities that we not, in any way, obtainable while I was under control of people who did everything to bring me down. I keep good people in my life who cheer on my accomplishments rather than criticise them. There is no jealousy between myself and my friends – we only wish the best for each other, and when we struggle, we can turn to one another rather than my previous life of having people who tried to play the “I’m most sick, I have it worst” cards.
As well, I have started to change the way I look at the disorders which have stubbornly hung on
despite repeated attempts at CBT (cognitive behavioural therapy). I’ve made peace with the fact that most of my anxiety disorders may just always be in the background, waiting until I’m at my most vulnerable to jump to the forefront. All I can do is continue to use my coping skills and learned behaviours to ride the wave, rather than avoid.
And finally – my doctor finally had to agree with multiple neuropsychologists, psychologists, psychiatrists and therapists that I saw over a two year period in order to come to the conclusion that I am not, and never have been, bipolar. Instead, the agreed upon diagnosis (backed up all the way into my childhood by teachers, my report cards, my learning resource teachers and family members) is actually ADHD – attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. Since starting the proper treatment for that, and no longer being misdiagnosed (and thus, improperly medicated for a disorder I do not have), I am doing far better than I ever thought was possible for me (I even travelled to Nova Scotia this past September! As someone who has had recurring agoraphobia since middle school, this is huge!).
I still have a long way to go but a whole part of why I started this blog is to help promote the healing, the triumphs and skills used to get me this far. Someone, somewhere, is going through this exact same thing and I want them to know that they are not alone. Eventually, there is going to be the time where you’re at a functioning state and I hope to help you get there.