Journey to a Diagnosis

Back in 2007, I started noticing that there was something very different between me and my peers. If asked to read out loud, I could not physically see the words, my stutter would get worse, and my classmates would laugh at me. I would know that the words do not actually move but, to me, it did. It also looked as if someone were to highlight each word in a different colored sharpie. Instead of just seeing the words in different colors, I would just see a block of yellow, pink, green, etc. instead of the word itself.

After spending the past 11 years with this, and other challenges, my family finally took notice and had me tested. Over the course of 6 months, I saw a dozen therapists/psychiatrists/psychologists, tried an array of medicines that did not work, and finally got tested for any mental/learning/developmental disorders.

fullsizeoutput_2c4.jpeg

 Once the results came in, the psychologist was beyond shocked. He told my mother that he has never diagnosed a child with the number of disorders that I have. Nor has he met someone with so many severe disorders who is not already on medication. It turns out I have; ADD, severe depression, multiple anxiety disorders, dyslexia, dysgraphia, Autism Spectrum Disorder, and Tourette’s Syndrome.

This confused me because I had no idea what any of that meant. My mother was confused because she couldn’t believe she hadn’t noticed sooner. The doctor was confused because he thought, with my diagnosis, I should have already been in therapy and highly dependent of medicine. To be exact, he told my mother, “She should be highly dependent on medication. However, there is no combination of medication that would actually help her. But she shouldn’t be able to function in life without it.”

It hurt me that he would talk about me to my mother when I was sitting right next to her. He barely looked me in the eye and thought it was fine to tell my mother that I shouldn’t be able to function in a normal life without being highly dependent on a combination of medicine that does not exist. I felt like a fish out of water all over again. I thought I would finally get “better” and happier if I got a name for what is going on in my head. However, all I got was more confusion and no real plan of action.

The doctor also told my mother that the only treatment for “someone like me” is intensive therapy and medicine. He then went on to tell her of any therapists near where we live who could help. On the topic of medicine, he would tell my mother about a medicine that could help ADD but would make my depression worse. Then there is a medicine that could help my depression but it would make my Tourette’s worse and so on.

This led to my mother taking me to a few more therapists and to get my IQ tested. The lady who conducted the first IQ test used the new version of the test and I scored 140. Thinking that is a little too high for someone my age, she then retested me using the old version and I scored 150. To get a finalized answer, she tested me again with the first version of the test that was more accurate and I scored 160.

Upon seeing all of my results, my mother was completely shocked and did not know what to do. I was not told what my IQ was but that I did a good job. Considering I am used to failing every test I have ever taken, I assumed I ‘failed’ this one too but my mother just did not want to upset me.

I then decided to forget about it and move on with school. At this point, I have attended 4 of the 8 schools I attended from kinder to 12th grade. At this school, I was bullied every day for a plethora of reasons. Reasons such as; my skin/hair color, my glasses, my speech, how I can’t read, how I am ‘stupid’, and much more. One day, I got upset that a bully kept on teasing me for reading the same book for a year that I lashed out.

I did not fight the bully, but I told her about my dyslexia and how it was not my fault that my brain makes the words move around. Unfortunately, the bully translated this as me saying I am actually crazy. The bullies then started telling me how insane I am.

This also made my depression worse because she started to tell me the things my bullies did as I tried to go to sleep. See, for whatever reason, my mind has envisioned my depression into a little girl named Olivia. I have never told anyone about Olivia in fear of being called insane. Olivia does not tell me to hurt myself or anyone else. All she does is remind me of the things my bullies have said.

Around the time I got tested, my parents started to fight and eventually got divorced. I could not help but think they started fighting because of me. This made my fall into such a deep depression I could not see a way out of it. Luckily, I have never physically harmed myself. Nor have I ever made a plan to end my life. Although, I have had thoughts of how many ways I could die or hurt myself in various situations and places I am put into.

At first, I thought there was something wrong with me. Next, I thought I could tell people about my disorders and everything will be okay. Finally, I had to accept that I have to work harder just to get an average grade. They say life is hard, but, for me, it is nearly impossible.

Today, I am doing better than I ever imagined! I am currently enrolled in college and I am a full-time student. I don’t always make the best grades, but I did make the Dean’s list fall of 2016! I hope that I can help end the stigma against mental illness because it is not all bad. On the other hand, I do not want it to be used as an excuse to get out of doing your job. If I ever say I need a break or an extension on an assignment, it is because I am actually so mentally drained that I cannot get out of bed for any reason. Luckily, that rarely happens to me. What also helps is that I am currently on an antidepressant, an ADD medicine, and a medicine to help my anxiety. They work great at keeping me stable enough to get through the day.

By Rachel Wright