Let’s take a moment to discuss the diagnosis of a mental illness.
Everyone who gets diagnosed with a mental illness does not always react the same way. Some people are relieved to finally have a name attributed to their symptoms, others are terrified, then there are those who have been ingrained with the stigma around specific diagnoses and become ashamed or experience denial.
When I was originally diagnosed with clinical depression, I accepted that and understood that. When I was finally diagnosed with Bipolar II Disorder, I was scared and thought to myself, “But I’m not crazy, I’m not out of control.” That statement alone signifies the problem when stigma and bias are so rampant in our community. I was ashamed and avoided telling my parents at first…until I took the time to read the symptoms. Instantly it became clear, I was never just clinically depressed, I had been given the wrong diagnosis and was only treating half of the problem. But when stating my diagnosis, instead of saying I have Bipolar II Disorder, like one would say I have depression, I stated that I was Bipolar.
Again, this is where stigma and bias shame us all. I shamed myself by incorrectly labeling myself. It took years for me to truly accept a diagnosis does not define who I am as a person; a diagnosis is simply that, a diagnosis. When I shifted my mindset, when I began to realize that Bipolar II Disorder is not who I am, that this mental illness is treatable, I began to improve.
But it’s important to note there are “professionals,” (again, using that word lightly as I did in Intellectual Elitism Stopped me from Receiving Talk Therapy) believe that because they’ve encountered patients with that diagnosis, patients who are not in their field of profession to diagnosis and understand the intricacies of each individual person, that we all fit into the same box. We don’t.
You, too may be diagnosed with Bipolar II Disorder but your reality is not my reality. I am not going to face the same hardships as you and vice versa. Your symptoms won’t be my symptoms, your medications that help you function on a daily basis, won’t be the same medications that work for me. It’s important to understand that what works for one person doesn’t work for everyone because we are all different, we are all unique. We all don’t become one person just because we have the same diagnosis, we are all still individuals, we have our own bodies, we have our own thoughts.
“Professionals” who claim to know it all because one person they encountered with a Bipolar diagnosis was experiencing a manic state and believes that you, too must be as manic and unstable as that individual is reckless. In my journey to educate, inform, and express that my thoughts and diagnosis are my own because my experiences differ, I’ve come across many combative people who believe that they are correct in their statements and beliefs because they met one person and therefore, I must be like them.
I’m stable, I’m thriving, and I’ll continue to combat the stigma and bias not just for me, but for us because while your reality might not be my reality, neither is the reality of those ignorant assholes who believe we all fit into the same box. I’ll continue to shout from the rooftops with those who are open about their diagnosis and for those who aren’t quite comfortable with sharing theirs yet.
I believe in you, I struggle with you, but not for one moment am I going to pretend that I know exactly what you deal with because I don’t. But I will be a voice to speak out and shatter that glass for each ignorant asshole that tries to cram us into a box.
Until next time – Love, Peace, and Chicken Grease <3