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A Weird Medical History


I think everyone likes to tell stories about how weird they were as a kid. “When I was in fifth grade, I used to save my milk cartons every day and bring them home. I hid them in rows under my bed for an ENTIRE YEAR! I was such a weird kid”

Well I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but kids are weird. ( And gullible. I once convinced a child that I ate a sandwich identical to the one on the cover of Frankenstein Makes a Sandwich, and he totally fell for it and freaked out. Don’t worry, I eventually admitted the truth. I left the eggs off, but whole chickens are delicious, bones ‘n all!)

As a young child, I carried my (still intact) copy of Wayne’s World around with me like a security blanket, and watched The Addams Family everyday, until my mother had to confiscate it. I was hell-bent on being a boy and took to wearing my Big Bad Wolf cap (complete with mudflap!) out in public. Once, when the nice young man working at Costco asked my mother if he could “take him out of the cart” for her, I was elated.  But still, I felt like a normal kid at home. At school was another story. A shy one, I found myself the odd man out more often than not. This role was clearly defined after I had an absence seizure the summer before fifth grade, when my teacher would snap “Brittney, are you with us?!” when I was just looking out the window for a second.

I can’t remember a time when my brain was less mature than it is now, which for a period, around 2007, led me to believe that I had a mental disability that my parents or anybody else had never let me be aware of. Maybe my brain had just stopped maturing.  I was never able to shake the social anxieties of my formative years, of being a sore thumb wherever I was, even if nobody was looking at me.

Fast forward to middle school, I now fancy myself a poet. Also, a little movie had just come out called Girl, Interrupted. I fell in love with it, naturally, and bought the book immediately. Oh, Susanna! Kaysen was my hero. Not just her beautiful writing, but I felt we were kindred spirits. I soon discovered that I too had Borderline Personality Disorder. Re:


People with BPD are often uncertain about their identity. As a result, their interests and values may change rapidly.

People with BPD also tend to see things in terms of extremes, such as either all good or all bad. Their views of other people may change quickly. A person who is looked up to one day may be looked down on the next day. These suddenly shifting feelings often lead to intense and unstable relationships.

Other symptoms of BPD include:

  • Fear of being abandoned
  • Feelings of emptiness and boredom
  • Frequent displays of inappropriate anger
  • Impulsiveness with money, substance abuse, sexual relationships, binge eating, or shoplifting
  • Intolerance of being alone
  • Repeated crises and acts of self-injury, such as wrist cutting or overdosing

PubMed Health

I see now that those were just symptoms of being thirteen. I don’t know what can be said for sitting on the floor and squeezing the stapler until it was empty and then coloring it in green permanent marker ( still in the house) , but kids are weird. The point of this is, this is when I first became enamored with self- diagnosis.

Sure, my mother had kept a medical book at her bedside for every cough and pain for years. I actually think she got an updated one a few Christmases ago. I always rolled my eyes at her and said she was nuts. But when I was a teen raging with hormones, I thought I was nuts. Hell, I hoped I was nuts.

I got to high school and we read One Flew Over the Cukoo’s Nest aloud for a few weeks. I read for Harding every time.

I’m not just talking about my wife, I’m talking about my life. I can’t seem to get that through to you. I’m not just talking about one person, I’m talking about everybody, I’m talking about form, I’m talking about content, I’m talking about interrelationships. I’m talking about God, the devil, hell, heaven.

Harding was my new kindred spirit. I didn’t grasp early in the play that he was a closeted homosexual,  just that he was seemingly normal, just too smart for everyone around him, driven to madness not being able to relate. That year I declared Ken Kesey and Douglas Adams as my literary heroes. They both died shortly after and I felt responsible.

Fast forward to college. To physical illness and not being taken care of by mom or my beloved pediatrician whom I visited up until my last college vaccination. My options were now myself, a college health services office and the internet. After one visit to Health Services, where I soon realized all I was going to receive were lozenges and condoms, I quickly turned to the internet.

WebMD was my mother on a screen. Though, instead of her saying that my hell-week cough and cold could be the flu, I could go on WebMD, click where it hurts and decide whether or not to excuse myself from class. It was brilliant and I was happy.

But the last couple years, I haven’t been as happy. And then I would be. And then I’m not. Sometimes within hours. I have no appetite, I don’t want to see my friends, but I get anxious being alone. So I turned to a shrink and things got easier but not better so I accidentally broke up with him. And now I have the internet to tell me why I’m sad, which led me to this. I was on top of the world this morning, applying for side work and getting on top of my tasks. And suddenly, I’m down again. So I’m calling my ex-shrink tomorrow and we’ll see if he takes me back and helps me find an answer.

4 Comments leave one →
  1. Veronica permalink
    03/08/2011 1:54 pm

    After many years of trying to diagnose myself with various mental disorders, I think I’ve come to the conclusion that I’d rather just I am more sensitive than some. Cyclothymia reads suspiciously like plain old mood swings. Maybe it’s better to just imagine we are unique and not necessarily afflicted?

    Love your writing!

    • Veronica permalink
      03/08/2011 1:57 pm

      *rather just think that I am more sensitive…

      Gah, a typo! A writer’s worst and most embarrassing enemy.

    • 03/08/2011 4:20 pm

      Thanks, Veronica! I agree, everyone is so quick to label things but this is probably just a bad case of the blues. Either way, I don’t mind paying $20 every couple of weeks to vent. I mean, who wants to listen to someone complain all the time?


  1. The Mind Motel

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