One of the more difficult conversations I have with my clients is about discussing possible diagnoses. This is directly linked to the perpetuated stigma in society on mental health; people have such a negative connotation with diagnoses and are often misinformed. But to also be perfectly transparent, it can be pretty scary when your doctor tells you that you have a diagnoses, even if it's treatable. Most people immediately go to the reaction of "something is wrong with me," when in reality that is truly not the case.
Mental health issues (I mostly prefer this term over 'mental illnesses') are so much more common than people realize. As a therapist, I'm privy to working with people that may (or may not) have a mental health issue with which they are struggling; I'm also trained to detect when someone may have a diagnosis. That is not to say that I run around diagnosing people - I don't! It takes time and a lot of information gathering in order to make a diagnosis, although sometimes there are hallmark traits that I can spot more quickly due to my years of training.
But back to my point: many people may be struggling with a behavioral health issue and they choose to keep it private or they seem quite functional, or appropriately so they seek active treatment to help manage their symptoms. Bottom line is that it is something many people deal with. We've seen celebrities come out over the years stating they have struggled with mental health issues like Bipolar Disorder, Depression, self-injurious behaviors, etc. For some, this is seen as empowering and comforting; it helps people feel less alone with something that can perhaps make them feel ostracized and isolated.
So where am I going with this?
I wish to be a voice that normalizes mental health issues and struggles.
We are all human. Our bodies and brains are very complex and individualized. We do the best we can, but sometimes things are out of our control.
For some people, having the label of a diagnosis offers concrete evidence for their struggles; it's a name for the chemical imbalance/stress/sadness/anger etc. It also offers hope that there is a way to manage it through treatment.
For others, it can feel devastating. They may go to the place of feeling helpless, as if they are broken, as if they have done something wrong and thus earned a negative label. It feels terminal.
It's not!! Remember, so many people battle mental health issues every day and we don't even know about it. There are so many supports and studies and treatments (and meditation and wellness and yoga!!!) for the many diagnoses that exist, and researchers are working daily to find new ways of assisting those in need of more support.
To be diagnosed with a behavioral health disorder is not a death sentence; it is not bad, YOU are not bad. It can be an answer; a sign of hope.
(And, to be more transparent/concrete/honest, it's also a way for providers to bill insurance companies. Just sayin'!)
You are still you; the only difference is that now you have an increased awareness of how your brain functions.
I hope this is helpful for even one of you reading. Take care and be well!