A Mental Illness Diagnosis Is Not The End, But The Beginning
The act of sitting in a psychiatrist’s office is terrifying in and of itself.
What am I doing here? You might think.
How did I get here? I don’t belong here.
Admitting that you are struggling is only the first step. Once you get the courage to speak up (and please do!), it is not the end of your battle, but the beginning.
The beginning of a new perspective:
- You are not alone
- You can get help and recover
- You can live a fulfilling and successful life
After receiving a mental illness diagnosis, individuals tend to feel a variety of emotions. While it can be a relief to find the answer to troubling and mysterious symptoms, most people find it hard to digest. No one can prepare themselves for those words, the ones that oftentimes feel like a life sentence.
Try not to think of it as a label or intrinsic to your identity because when you start to recover, you may feel scared. Who am I without my illness? You could find yourself wondering. We get comfortable in our unhappiness. We get used to it, but…
Consider The Positives of A Mental Illness Diagnosis
What?! Hear me out…
When trying to balance a “normal” life, while internally shaken, you may be led down a path of unstable, unfamiliar ground. Rocky roads can be difficult to navigate when you feel all alone.
But here’s the good news…
Many others before you have paved the path. You are not alone, despite how you may feel. A mental illness diagnosis can smooth out the trail, giving direction to our travels with a map to follow. Advice on how to cope with a new diagnosis can come in many forms, but experience is the best teacher.
Many have been where you are now before. Reach out if you feel comfortable. Browse forums online, blogs like this one, and take a look at the resources. Many doctors have pamphlets that can be found in the waiting room of their office. They can also refer you to support groups. Take the advice and suggestions of those who seek to educate from experience.
Read, read and read some more. Educating yourself is one the most important things you can do on your journey to recovery. Knowing what you are dealing with and having a name for it not only makes it less scary, but it can help you separate you from your illness. There are so many resources available to you. Now that you’ve been diagnosed, you know what you are dealing with. You have a word for the vague and scary symptoms that you’ve been dealing with. That is half the battle.
Keeping A Personal Record Can Help
I recommend recording personal data to help you become aware of the ebbs and flow of your symptoms, your unique version of a mental illness diagnosis. From journaling to a variety of apps, there are many ways this can be tackled. Track and chart things of importance.
Do not allow yourself to be swallowed by stigma. Mental illness is real and can lead to suicide if left untreated. The severity of the illness differs among men and women alike. I speak from my personal experiences with bipolar disorder, anxiety, and mild OCD. It is not easy. Recovery takes commitment. It is an investment in your future self, but you are worth it. Be proactive in your recovery. Advocate for your wellness and for that of others, if you feel up to it. A diagnosis doesn’t make you weak. In fact, it can be empowering to know what is behind the symptoms of your imbalance. Educating yourself can help to lessen the negative side effects, such as stigma.
Some days will prove more difficult than other. Prepare yourself for those days of nothingness. Set no expectations for yourself except to make it to the next day. You’re not lazy. Don’t beat yourself up. You deserve a chance to relax and recharge.
Most importantly, remember, this is not your fault. It never was.
Eve is the founder of Revenge of Eve. She is the mother of a teenage daughter, part-time blogger and a bartender. She blogs of her journey of living with mental illness in hopes of breaking the stigma attached. You can connect with her on WordPress, Tumblr and Google+.