As I entered the testing room it occurred to me that I would have to remove my clothes. Panic filled my chest. The skin all over my body immediately started to crawl with heat and pain.
I have to remove my clothes. This lovely lady will see my self-injury. I am ugly. I am hideous. These injuries are visual representations of the intense pain in my mind and they are not meant to be seen by others. We hide these feelings. I have to run. I have to leave. I have to get out of this room.
I must leave this room!
Instead I took a moment, removed my jacket, sat on the exam table, took a deep breath and spoke - softly at first ... searching for the right words and pleading with my larynx to grant me the sound to create them.
"I am sorry. You may or may not already know this, but I am here for pre-Lithium testing. I was recently diagnosed with various disorders and one of them involves self-harm. I have injuries on my stomach ... and other areas, and apologize for what you are about to see. It is a great embarrassment to me and it would be easier to leave this room now, but I need to do this to move forward in my care. I will need your help."
The technician made me feel at ease. She asked me to trust her and not to be afraid. At her request, I removed my shirt and .... this is very hard for me ... I removed my shirt and allowed her to place the leads on my body. She was quick and did not remain in any one area for long. The test was over in just a few moments and revealed a normal sinus rhythm. I am cleared to begin Lithium on Tuesday.