Wednesday, April 3, 2019

I'm into SM; Not What You Think

I picked up Jay yesterday morning at nine and we went to the hospital in Nanaimo. While he was there, Sheba and I went walking together. It was another lovely day to be outdoors. Afterwards, we went shopping and then to the ferry where we parked out car and walked into the shopping centre nearby to get food to eat outdoors on the Nanaimo seawall. Even with Jay beside me, I was unable to speak to the Subway clerk. I’m pretty much functionally mute in public. 
Next Tuesday marks the third anniversary of being a “mental health services consumer.” I was initially diagnosed with C-PTSD. Then Dr. Shoja recanted that diagnosis. After more talking and observation, she decided I had a genetic anxiety disorder that had been exacerbated by the Tyrells but not caused by them. 
My stuttering and psychogenic non-epileptic seizures were my incapacitating symptoms. But now those words, too, have been recanted and replaced by a new term: Selective mutism (SM). When I looked it up on Google, it made sense.
My symptoms, and some behaviors, make sense in the context of social anxiety. Reflecting on dilemmas of my past through the lens of this new understanding lessens my shame. And the diagnosis of genetic origin explains why people with worse life experiences than me have milder symptoms.
Call me crazy—you’d be right—but having anxiety, and specifically social anxiety, feels much more comfortable than the diagnosis of C-PTSD.  PTSD is so abstract and it opens the door to the question of what caused it. Explaining my weirdness with the term “anxiety” is a door-closer. It’s an understandable term and it fits with my symptoms.
People tell me I’ve going to flip out when my cataracts are removed. They rave about the clarity it brings. Well that’s how I feel about this simple “anxiety” (and SM) diagnosis. I can live with this. 
I turned down drugs but I’m going back to see Dr. S. in another six months. She worries I am or may become depressed—one of the two. I feel fine here, with my pets.
The rain came. I’ll be dog walking in mild mist. Then I’ll go shopping to re-stock the house and then I plan to spend the rest of the day relaxing by a fire with my pets.

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