Guest Post: Diagnosis: On The Importance Of

There is often much controversy around the idea of labelling a person with MH difficulties. Does a label change the way we are treated as individuals? Does it feed an already prevalent stigma? Does it ostracise us in the wider community? Do people see us coming and recognise our illness before us as people?

There are many ways of looking at this. For me, personally, a (recent) more accurate diagnosis has been crucial in widening my understanding of the complex network of thoughts and emotions that have plagued me since late adolescence/early adulthood.

When I was first seen by a Psychiatrist, around three years ago, I was given a diagnosis of Generalised Anxiety Disorder (GAD) and Secondary Depression. I never disputed this. GAD was the obvious diagnosis. I was frightened of everyone, anything that wasn’t part of my routine. When I was working (which I haven’t managed to do for around four years) I couldn’t cope with meetings, and being expected to speak to different people. In the end, I couldn’t cope with the noise of a printer, or a photocopier. And when Anxiety takes over, and prevents one from functioning, who wouldn’t be Depressed?

However, as time has gone on, and no combination of medication and/or therapy has made a massive difference, I’ve started to question the accuracy of my diagnosis. Why (like others with a similar condition) was I getting no respite? Why was I not ‘well’ for periods of time? I raised this with my Care Team earlier this year, who agreed to look at additional/alternative diagnoses. To cut a long story short, I’ve now also been labelled with Avoidant Personality Disorder (APD).

Many people would be horrified at a diagnosis containing the words ‘personality’ and ‘disorder’, but my Psychiatrist has assured me that there is nothing wrong with the essence of my character, my personality, so to speak, but that it is a ‘disorder’ from the point of view that it is enduring and sustained enough to have had a significant impact on my life. That is to say that the ‘avoidant’ part of my personality is what refuses invitations with no hesitation. It means I won’t attend large gatherings, or eat out. It means I won’t go on holiday (or leave my room much). It prevented me from going to my Sister’s wedding.

So, despite the increased risk of stigma, the decreased probability of understanding, I’ll take the Personality Disorder and use it to help me make sense of things, of the way I think and behave. I’ll take it and hope that, one day, I’ll be able to use it to come to terms with how things have turned out, and to build a life for myself, a life that can be lived within my limitations but still allows me to be content, and to achieve things I used to think impossible.

Thank you from BrizzleLass for this insightful post. Please take the time to follow this lovely lady over at her blog and on Twitter! Also, do leave a comment if you have any thoughts, feelings or feedback on this post.

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7 thoughts on “Guest Post: Diagnosis: On The Importance Of

  1. Some interesting questions and thoughts here much of which I can relate to.

    It was a good ten years or so before I was diagnosed as Bipolar. I just assumed I was “depressed” in the same way everybody gets depressed every now and again, but it just never went away and I needed to try and understand why. I suffered two big breakdowns and idiotically assumed they were “normal” but the third one was frightening as I completely lost control and then realised I needed help.

    I wasn’t thrilled by the diagnosis but I researched it and things began to make some sense. I have been on a variety of meds, both legal and herbal over the years and none of them have made any positive difference so I’ve spent the last 5 years having to try and accept I’m the way I am and develop various coping strategies which have been lifesavers… but at the expense of any kind of a social or working life. After just two hours with people, even those I know, love and respect, I have to escape and get back on my own. I hate it, but I can’t control it. More than three people? That’s a crowd… can’t handle them. I feel like I’m drowning. Deep down, I’ve accepted how I am but I’m also disabled and like my disability, the dilemma was and still is, it is other people make it a bigger problem which makes one feel stigmatised all the more and I’m determined to try and fight such ignorance and prejudice.

    So, I live a rather solitary lonesome life but being creative, I always have plenty of things to keep me occupied. When good days come along, I make the most of them. They’re few and far between but I cherish them.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I found getting the label of depression helpful for understanding myself andbeing able to then get better. I struggled with the label of anxiety though -that just sounded lame to me. I don’t think I’d be keen on having a personality disorder label.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I found my diagnosis of Cyclothymia and BPD incredibly useful. For years I had been up and down, and the doctors wouldn’t take me seriously without my diagnosis. Unfortuntately, it ended up with me having to pay for private healthcare to get the diagnosis, but since then my life has been much easier with getting the help I need.

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    1. This is great, it’s amazing what a diagnosis can do for us! It’s a shame you had to pay to get yours! I have a problem with a GP currently who still blames hormones for my mood swings despite a bipolar diagnosis 10yrs ago which was reconfirmed recently directly to her! Even my mental health team are stumped!

      Like

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