The Fear and Uncertainty of a New Mental Health Diagnosis


Yesterday, I woke up just like any other day. I made my coffee, took my medications and went on a walk with my dog. Nothing out of the ordinary.

I spent an hour outside drinking my coffee and smoking my cigarettes, because the night before I had gotten maybe two hours of sleep. My insomnia has been bad lately.

I wanted to put on a full face of makeup, but I ended up procrastinating and only putting on a minimal amount. I looked like I had done nothing. I didn’t even spend time picking out an outfit; I just grabbed something warm and black that would go well with my leather jacket.

I had an appointment with my psychiatrist at 10:20. I got there at 10 a.m. and sat in my car to finish my coffee and smoke one last cigarette. I was nervous. I was going to ask her for help getting my medical card. I knew this was going to be an important appointment. There was so much that needed fixing.

However, I didn’t know just how important and life-changing this appointment would be. I somehow got the courage to ask her, “Am I bipolar?” The answer was shocking.

“I’m giving you the diagnosis of bipolar II disorder.”

At first, I felt relief. My dad and my best friend had accused me of overthinking, creating something that was not there. I was happy to know this wasn’t all just made up fiction in my mind. But then, the fear set in. I’m bipolar.

Logically, I know nothing has changed. But at the same time, I feel as though my whole life has been turned upside-down. My psychiatrist knew for at least a month, and she didn’t tell me. She also didn’t give me much information other than it starts with depression and progresses. She raised the dosage of my new antipsychotic and sent me on my way.

I was in a fog leaving the appointment. I had to run errands, and even then I felt detached from the world. I felt as though I had just been diagnosed with a lifelong illness. Oh wait, I had been. When I got home, I began searching online for what this meant. Is this going to be like the movies? Am I going to get even more paranoid? What’s going to happen to me?

I didn’t have time to do too much reading as my friend had come over to hang out with me. He has the same issues as I do. He was actually able to help me realize that I do, in fact, have hypomanic episodes. He helped me realize this is something I’ve dealt with for a while.

Now, this morning, I sit here wondering. It’s heavy on my mind. I know I have an anxiety disorder, major depressive disorder, ADD and PTSD. Now, I’m wondering if maybe I’d been misdiagnosed. What does all of this mean now that I’m bipolar?

I was beginning to think that maybe, just maybe, my depression and anxiety weren’t from a chemical imbalance. They were results of the trauma I had experienced. But now I no longer believe this is the case.

I feel lost; I don’t know where to begin. It all makes so much sense now, but at the same time, it’s all new. It’s scary and unfamiliar territory I’ve entered into. I feel alone. I feel like I now understand why I’ve been mistreated and misunderstood. It’s even given me an excuse to accept all the abuse I’ve been through.

While I learn how to accept this, I will also learn how to fight it. I want to have a job again. I want to be stable again. I’m determined to get back to that point. I hope there is still hope for me.

Image via Thinkstock.

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