Dealing with a mental health diagnosis
When you receive a formal diagnosis from a health professional you will feel one or a combination of the following emotions:
Relief / elation that you’ve discovered why you feel the way you do. Now that you know what’s going on, there are actions you can take that can help alleviate your symptoms.
Your thoughts might look something like: “Thank goodness I know what’s wrong with me, now I can get treatment and get better”
Fear of not being in complete control of your mood and behavior at times. Or, fear for the impact it could have on the rest of your life (ie. will it impact your work/ relationships/what people think about you). Or, you may experience fear from not fully know what to expect from your disorder.
Your thoughts might be something like this: “If I’m Bipolar 1, will anyone ever want to marry me? What if I end up cheating on them at some point. Can I even trust myself any more”.
Anger that this is happening to you.
Your thoughts might be something like: “I can’t take this depression anymore! My life was great until this happened to me”
Sadness because who you thought you were is suddenly different. You may be upset that you need to make new lifestyle choices that you don’t necessarily want to make. Or, sad that dreams you had no longer seem possible.
Your thoughts might be something like: “I don’t want to live like this anymore. It’s too painful”
If you are experiencing any of the above emotional states, what you are feeling is completely normal. No matter how you feel, the following list of actions will assist you in dealing with this difficult moment in your life in a powerful way. Taking immediate action will help you establish control in a position where you feel like you have none.
The minute you receive a mental disorder diagnosis from a qualified healthcare provider – that is, a General Practitioner, Psychologist or Psychiatrist – do the following:
Step 1: Get a second diagnosis:
You may even want to get two more (for a total of three diagnosis). If the professionals are aligned, it’s highly likely the diagnosis is accurate. It’s important you understand, that the way doctors diagnosis mental illnesses today is not fully precise. The way most mental illnesses are established are through verbal interviews.
This method of diagnosis, does not factor in the variable: Perception. If you want to understand this more visit the article: by clicking the link at the bottom of this page.
Step 2: Do your own research
Learn as much as you can about the disorder you’ve been given as a diagnosis. Read multiple resources, not just one. The more you know, the more you understand, and the more you can think for yourself.
Step 3: Interview close family / friends
Share your diagnosis and explain how the doctor arrived at it, to family members and friends that are actively involved in your life. These people know a lot about you. Many of them have also witnessed your behavior. So, what they think (though not a formal diagnosis) helps a doctor understand what the core problem is.
It will also help you validate or invalidate the diagnosis. For example, if you’re doctor suspects you have Bipolar I, but you don’t agree, polling your loved ones will help you see things you may not have seen before. Or, they will help you to build your case and search for a second opinion.
Often, medical professionals don’t get the full picture. This can cause a misdiagnosis. Which, can also lead to the incorrect treatment.
Remember: A mental disorder diagnosis always requires a thorough investigation from a qualified physician. The more evidence they have, the more they can piece together what is really going on.
Have your doctor interview others in your life. Or, ask if you can bring them with you to your appointment. It’s important you give them the space to say what they need to, even though some of those things may not be easy for you to hear.
Step 4: Don’t take it personally
It’s not your fault that you have a mental disorder. It is an illness that’s built up over time in your brain and body. It’s been caused by internal and external variables. And, it’s much like the flu even though you can’t explain it or point to it to prove it to others. It’s important you remember there is nothing wrong with you.
If your illness has caused you to behave in irrational or hurtful ways, understand that it doesn’t mean anything about you as a person. For example, if you’ve been a reclus because you are suffering from depression, it’s not entirely in your control to be social with loved ones.
The best thing you can do is learn about your illness, so you can be in control of it. Don’t let it be pervasive in your life either. Once you know you have a disorder it’s easy to let yourself off the hook for certain behaviors. You have a disorder and you still have control.
Step 5: Take action
Don’t just wait around for help to come to you. Take action. Even if the action you take is to ask someone to take action for you. When you take action, whether it results in positive or negative effects, it will lead you to a new place. The forward momentum will immediately put you in the power seat of your life.