I am a Caucasian male in my late 40's. I was emotionally, physically, and sexually abused by male relatives and family friends as a child/teenager. One of the males who abused me was very sadistic and violent, including trying to kill me when I threatened to tell someone what was happening when I was 8. As a result of my trauma, I developed "dual personalities" to cope and also had significant gender and sexual identity confusion during my 20's and early 30's. Through counseling and other hard work during this time, I resolved these issues and became a confident, strong, and happy gay man.
At the age of 32, I was robbed at gunpoint and psychologically terrorized. I developed post-traumatic stress as a result, was put on a number of anti-depressants and other medications by my personal physician (who is not a psychiatrist) and as a result of the medication, attempted suicide. While hospitalized, I saw a psychiatrist who diagnosed me as being bipolar and eventually convinced me to go on lithium. I remained on lithium for over 14 years.
Five years ago I experienced another severe incident of post-traumatic stress through my work which ultimately involved my supervisor being removed from her job for the way she had treated me (and others) and I was eventually put on short-term disabillty and have been on long-term disability for the past four years. In treating the post-traumatic stress, I was again put on a variety of anti-depressants and anti-psychotics by my personal physican. During the next three years, I became increasingly more suicidal and depressed and in response the dosage and number of medications kept being increased.
Last summer, a problem arose with my insurance and I went off my medication for over a month. Even though the withdrawal was terrible, my mind began to clear and I started feeling like my old self. Out of concern for my well-being, a friend had me hospitalized to get me back on my medications. I would not agree to this (except for the lithium) and the hospital initiated court proceedings to force me back on everything. I was kept in the psychiatric ward for 15 days but it turned out to be a good thing because they realized that I was doing better. I was eventually seen by four pyschiatrists who not only said I did not need to be on all the other medications, but they said I was not bipolar as well.
During the past half-year, I have went through a challenging transition in my mental healthcare as I have come to grips with the fact that I am not bipolar and that I don't need any medication to cope with my issues. The impact of this misdiagnosis however and the impact it had on subsequent health care to deal with the real psychological issues I had from my work situation has taken some time to process and accept, but the good thing is that I am better and am no longer suffering from the consequences of such a misdiagnosis. After being so heavily medicated the past couple of years and trying to cope with the impact those medications had on my mood and suicidal ideation, I am just grateful to be back to being myself and also knowing that that I don't suffer from any kind of chemical imbalance.
I have learned alot from my experience. We are responsible for our own health care. Doctors do not know everything. We need to trust ourselves sometimes and question things we don't agree with or understand. Blindly accepting something may not be the answer. A second (or third) opinion may be necessary. When it comes to mental health, there is a lot that doctors still don't know.
My story is more involved than this. I have written a 7 page synopsis that provides greater deal of the ordeal I went through. If anyone is interested in reading it, feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org