What's the Most Difficult Part of Being Diagnosed With a Mental Illness?
First, let me state the obvious: When you are diagnosed with a mental illness everything is difficult. That being said, I believe there are certain things, feelings and experiences, that are probably more difficult then, say, making sure you eat lunch. I want to narrow it down to five because those of us living with a mental illness know that we could compile a book the size of a dictionary if we wanted too. I'm pretty sure we wouldn't want to do that, right?
When You are First Diagnosed With a Mental Illness It's Difficult Because. . .
- Your life is suddenly, drastically, changed. When you are first diagnosed your life becomes sort of surreal. It's suddenly so strange that it feels like it is no longer your life.
- You now have to accept a new life. What do I mean by this? Well, prior to the diagnosis you probably were not trying on psychiatric medications on like new shoes.
- You have to explain to people that you have a mental illness. Well, technically, you don't have to. But even your close friends, the ones you have had for years and your family members, you probably feel the need to talk to them. And it isn't easy. Even people we love, who love us in return, can find it difficult to believe, to understand, the diagnosis of mental illness.
- You have to learn self-care. Ah, yes, self-care! Getting enough sleep is now necessary to our very existence, rather, stability. It would be nice if we got paid an hourly wage to learn self-care. Hmm. I might pitch this to the Prime Minister out here in Canada. Very bad joke aside, it's hard. It's a whole new way to live.
- You need to take time to take care of yourself! Yes, I know, this is part of self-care, but it's sort of separate. We need to recognize our limitations. For example, if working forty-hours a week is making recovery difficult, we must swallow our pride and cut back.
I am thinking I should perhaps end this blog with a bit of positivity? Right, here we go. . .
In Conclusion. . .
Although living with a mental illness is different then, for example, breaking your leg and hopping along with crutches for a few months, everything in life that is difficult makes us stronger.
I realize this is an awful cliche, but it's true! If we wandered through life easily we would know what pain feels like and, in contrast, triumph once we have worked through it.
Now, I'm throwing the question out to you: What has been the most difficult part of being diagnosed with a mental illness?
Jeanne, N. (2013, May 2). What's the Most Difficult Part of Being Diagnosed With a Mental Illness?, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2023, March 29 from https://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/recoveringfrommentalillness/2013/05/whats-the-most-difficult-part-of-being-diagnosed-with-a-mental-illness
Author: Natalie Jeanne Champagne
I was diagnosed with many mental illnesses about 30 years ago. It was such a horrible experience. I hated myself and everyone around me. I did not believe in myself. I couldn't sleep, I couldn't eat. It was just horrible. My family did not want to believe that the had a daughter with a mental. They did not want others, even close friends and family to know about it. They joined a family-to family group and learned that they were not alone. Now they understand me better and they do not mind talking about to other people. I have found a good therapist and a good psychiatrist who believes in me and wants me to understand my illnesses. I have gotten better and I have set myself some goal with the encouragement from my therapist.I have gotten to the point where I don't mind talking to certain people about my problems and they seem to understand and do not treat me any different like some other people did. I hardly ever hear voices anymore which is a good thing. I do not stay suicidal all the time like I used to. I am lucky to have such a good treatment team and family and friends who now knows where I am coming from. That sure does make things a whole lot easier for me. I have also learned to accept myself the way I am and not the way others think I should be. That was one of the hard things for me to do.
You captured well some of the various difficulties associated with the initial diagnosis of a mental illness. For me, among the most difficult of things was the idea of acceptance (or lack thereof). Personally, this encompassed two distinct types of acceptance: acceptance from others and acceptance of myself. I lost friendships and employment opportunities. I didn't blame others, though. I blamed myself. I easily found many reasons to hate myself. I struggle with this still, but it has gotten much better thanks to many different factors. However, I'll always wrestle with it I think, and I'll always remember the sting of shame cause by the lack of acceptance by others and myself.
No one has talked about the relationship with their therapist, so I have something different to share. I was very lucky in finding my first therapist as we bonded very well. I understand that is not always true for many others. I was able to fully open myself up and communicate every moment of my life. She was totally accepting of whatever I said. She believed me and believed in me. She showed me compassion for everything which allowed me to start giving compassion to myself. Now, the hardest part, after one year she moved away. I thought my world ended. We worked together to find a solution--I wrote a pro and con list as to whether I should follow her and drive a total of 412 miles every two weeks for therapy or try to find a new therapist closer to my home. It took a month for my decision, to follow her for therapy, to feel like the correct one. At no point did she tell me her opinion until I had told her mine. She agreed it was the best decision for me. I had to learn how to drive in a very large city at the age of 57. Not an easy thing to do, but I was determined. I continued my therapy with her for the next 6 years and it proved to be the best decision over and over again. And then she retired. Another very difficult situation for me. I chose another therapist closer to home which proved not to be the best for me so I changed to another. One and a half years later I'm doing very well with my second choice. It was so difficult in the beginning but she was patient and we discussed my feelings about almost having to start from the beginning in order for her to understand me at this point in time. That was frustrating for me but it didn't make me relive the trauma I experienced when I was young. We now have a good relationship and I believe I've moved on quite nicely. I also had to change psychiatrists, I met with the only one in my clinic, I fired him after one visit and now am having my internal med doctor monitor my meds. I also have some members in my family not able to believe me or support me and, yes, it is very hurtful.
I agree with Nicki too. The hardest part of mental illness for me is family who are in denial about me having a mental illness.
They think I'm just lazy and wanted an "easy" way to "check-out!" Like our lives have actually been easy and We didn't want a better life!
Most of my family says my mental illness is all a lie, because this is not the way I was as a child. (Schizo- Affective Disorder usually shows up later in life.)
At first, I was angry and upset at the unfairness of how my family treated me. Then I cut them out of my life.
But the anger did not go away.
Eventually, I was able to bring them all back in my life. I deal with them where they are at present, as if they have something "wrong" with them too- an inability to see the world and the people around them clearly, and an inability to show compassion. I treat them with the compassion I would like to be treated with! And things are better now!
And you know what? All my nieces and nephews think I'm great, despite the untruths their parents tell them about me. I've let go of the need to change what people think of me! Thank You, Healthy Place for giving us all a forum in which to tell our stories and to air our grievances!
I am new to the site. Loved your post. I will keep my response brief:
Denial-do not want to carry this illness
Embarrassment-do not want to be associated with “those” people
Insecurity-Can I be productive? Can I succeed at anything?
Abandonment/isolation-Who is going to accept me? (friends, family, partner)
I was diagnosed 15 years ago with BP II and still have experience these difficulties.
Glad you found healthyplace.com and thank you for appreciating my post! Your answer is brief, yes, but it really makes sense. These are stages those of us diagnosed with a mental illness go through, and it's really difficult, to say the least. We learn along the way but, as you mention, decades can past and it still is not easy.
Thanks for the comment,
I guess the most difficult part is having relatives who don't believe in mental illnesses but believe that I only need spiritual healing and not medications...
Yes, I agree. Sometimes, it does not matter how much we explain mental illness, even those closest to us do not understand.
Thanks for the insightful comment,
I need to read about others with mental illnesses and bad psychiatrists. I had begun to feel I was alone.
You are certainly not along, rather, you are in large company! Try reaching out, even if it is online, it can help make us feel less alone.