Not Otherwise Specified

I'm down to just one job now, which is why there are sadly no more pictures of ridiculous products. And no more people shooting at me. So far.

I had to cut back to part time for health reasons. A few months ago I discovered something called Complex Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. I recognized myself in all of the diagnostic criteria, and finally the last fifteen years of my life made sense: All the bad decisions that seemed logical to my malfunctioning brain... all the times I inexplicably couldn't keep up... all my bizarre behaviors that I couldn't even explain to myself. This whole time I thought I was just stupid and lazy, ineffective, couldn't get it together. So it's a relief to finally have a name for this vague, constant feeling of swimming upstream. And it's helpful to accurately identify a problem before going about solving it. That's the good part.

The bad part is CPTSD is not included in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, so my problem officially doesn't exist. The closest match is Disorders of Extreme Stress Not Otherwise Specified... you know that's going to be taken seriously. Anyway, I no longer meet all the criteria, so I doubt I will ever have the luxury of a diagnosis. Is it possible to be diagnosed retroactively? So far I haven't found a therapist who will even stray from the term PTSD, so how can I be effectively treated? And if mental health practitioners don't recognize a real problem, how can I expect anyone to understand?

The bad part is CPTSD is like an autoimmune disease of the mind (although it's an injury, not an illness). I have to guard against sabotaging myself. My brain is wired to see the negative in everything. Even when I make progress, it seems like I'm not making any -- but even that thought is symptomatic!

The bad part is that I don't know where to go from here. I don't know how I can even have long-term goals anymore. How will I ever raise a family when I can barely take care of myself? How could I have a career when I am so unstable? For that matter, how can I even plan for the weekend when I never know how I'm going to be feeling by then?

Not that I haven't been making plans for the last fifteen years, but I used to think I just needed to try harder when I wasn't able to follow through. I used to think "this day was just bad because I didn't sleep well last night" or "this year was off because of blah blah blah," unable to accept that insomnia is a chronic problem for me and the "off" times had long stopped being the exception. Now I realize that I will always be in survival mode, and coping well is the best life I can hope for.

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