Morning, all! Back with yet another #MentalHealthMonday, this time about mental health diagnoses. I’m thinking that this might be a bit of a controversial post, but…I wanted to get my thoughts out there, as I know a lot of people who have struggled with this particular topic.
Diagnoses can be very helpful. When my doctor finally told me I had depression and GAD (generalised anxiety disorder), I felt relieved. Someone had finally put a name to what I was feeling. I wasn’t making it up. They believed me. There was a group of people who I could talk to about my experiences, and they would understand. This was a huge step for me, because for a long time I pretended that everything was going okay, when it really wasn’t.
However, diagnoses aren’t everything. Ultimately, you know what’s going on in your body and your mind better than a doctor does. You are perfectly in your rights to disagree with your ‘official’ diagnosis. Mental health is a very subjective thing – what one doctor says is bipolar disorder could be BPD (borderline personality disorder) to another! Also, few people have all of the exact symptoms of a mental illness – and you have to keep in mind, diagnoses are constantly changing and overlapping!
Sometimes it is also very difficult getting yourself diagnosed. Unfortunately, there are still racist and sexist doctors out there, and for some people getting a diagnosis is hard. A friend of mine went through four or five different doctors until she found one who believed her. (I’m going to talk about this in a more in-depth post in a few weeks, so look out for that.) Where you are in the world may play a part as well. I would never have been diagnosed when I was living in Bermuda, but that’s because there is a real stigma about talking about mental health, even in the doctor’s office.
If you do not have an ‘official’ diagnosis, this does not mean that you’re faking it, or being too sensitive. You may have unusual symptoms. You may have horrendous doctors. What’s important is that you try and help yourself, with or without an exact name to put to your mental illness. You know better than anyone else how you are feeling, and there are people out there (like me!) who believe you and will support you.