She’s not crazy either! Complex Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

I am SCARY (and I like it)

It’s been an exhausting night, but at least I got to say cool gay-rights stuff like, “Oh, so it’s because we’re not married, isn’t it?” and “I’m her emergency contact, and we have rights!” Since the recent supreme court decision, saying stuff like that actually gets you somewhere in the medical and mental health system. They tried to brush me off a few times, denying she was in their ER. My partner was definitely there, definitely not getting the attention she needed and generally being misunderstood by the entire staff.

Loonies, UNITE!

I said my scary bull-dyke stuff, and they relented and admitted they’d admitted her. The in-charge nurse RELUCTANTLY passed my number on to the staff psychiatrist who evaluated Jane, and he called me around midnight last night. Thank the sweet baby Jesus!

“Her father said she’s been prescribed some medication, and she’s not taking it, is that correct?” He asked me.
Wake up, Vico. Wake up and use your mouth-words.

“Well,” I said, “I’m not really sure what medications she’s supposed to be taking. Her mother and step-father fancy themselves her in-home psychiatrists and entrap her in their home and force her to take a pretty wide variety of pills. I don’t know what she should really be on.”

“Hmm,” said the good Jewish doctor from the Bay Area, “Well, the reason I ask is because her behaviors are indicative of Bipolar Disor-”

“She doesn’t have that.” I interrupted. You see, I’ve been clinically diagnosed (by my partner’s 17 year old little brother) as a “know-it-all” and it seems I just can’t stop compulsively knowing things. It’s very damaging to my relationship with my partner’s parents, whom I will refer to as “Borderline-Personality-Mom (BP Mom) and “Creepy-StepDad-Who-Has-a-Gun”(CreepyGunDad).

“She has Complex Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder,” I explained.

The good doctor wasn’t bitter about being interrupted by the crazy girlfriend, which earned him 5,000,000 super-duper gold star happy points.

“Hmm,” he said, “and why do you think that?”

“Oh just her behavior,” I tried to make my answer sound like it was coming from a source other than my compulsively knowing-things-about-things habit. On the strong chance that he had never heard of Complex PTSD, I wanted to validate the good doctor so he didn’t get his little psychiatric feelings hurt and take out his own incompetence on my partner.

“I understand why you may think she’s manic. But she never has hallucinations, never hears voices. She takes risks, and I think that’s the behavior in question here – she absolutely drives recklessly.”

“Yes, and that’s what we’re concerned about,” said the good doctor.

“Yes, you should be. But the reckless driving isn’t just poor impulse control. She takes risks in order to put herself in a dangerous situation; she recreates the environment of her trauma to re-live it, and to to get a chance to change the outcome.” At this point I heard a loud “BING” sound as the lightbulb over the good doctor’s head suddenly ILLUMINATED!

“Do you know what kind of trauma?” asked the good doctor. Which is good, because that information falls outside of the realm of things generated by my unfortunate and clearly mentally ill mind.

“Yeah, I do,” I told him, and I explained that, despite her chronic psychiatric hospitalizations over the past two years, she has never been asked about her trauma or given any chance to speak about it. I only gave him the details of the formative abuse, i.e. the abuse that occurred in the first five years of her life. The list includes emotional, physical and sexual abuse; long-term and repeated entrapment and imprisonment and torture; slavery and enforced labor; long term objectification; and long-term exposure to crisis.

“Wow. That sounds……that sounds awful,” said the good doctor. And the angry little knot with Jane’s name on it that lives in my solar plexus melted just a tiny bit. I explained to the good doctor that Jane would never co-operate with her parents since they are both “part of the whole PTSD thing.”

“Her mother took her to a child psychologist when she was five, who apparently said Jane was doing fine and that they should never talk about it ever again,” I told him.

“What the hell kind of psychologist is that?” the good doctor politely inquired.

“I don’t know, some shitty therapist in Martinez in the 90’s,” I answered, “Please excuse my language.”

The good doctor agreed with me, and I went on to elaborate about BP Mom and CreepyGunDad’s habit of sweeping things under the rug. Without coming across as completely accusatory (which I am) I tried to gently elucidate their tendencies toward chronic accusations, scapegoating, and gaslighting with poor Jane. “That just sounds horrible,” the good doctor responded, and my Jane-knot gradually untwisted to my great relief. I’m sorry, society, but knowing-it-all just feels so good sometimes. I hadn’t even mentioned BP Mom’s chronic physical battle with [horrible degenerative illness retracted to protect the identity of those involved], and CreepyGun Dad’s habit of convincing BP Mom that all her hospital visits could be avoided if Jane would just stop “stressing everybody out.”

The good hospital with the good nurse-in-charge and the good doctor and the good people had no psychiatric beds for the night. She’s been transferred to a different psychiatric hospital. I’m interested in how this will all play out, since the psychiatric system depends on the isolation of their victim to support their pathological abuse and blaming.

The connection between Jane and I is too strong for them to sever, and besides, I’m a Gemini (a lesbian Gemini).

So, Psychiatry, we meet again.
Only this time I’m not trapped in your torture-machine.
We can do this this easy way or the hard way. My only advice is…don’t make me angry. You won’t like me when I’m angry.


Hothead Paisan by Diane DiMassa


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