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.