The Impact of a Changing Diagnosis

When I was around 16 or 17, I was diagnosed with obsessive-compulsive disorder. After becoming worse and changing my treatment team, I was then diagnosed with anxiety, depression and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). After several years of medication changes, self-harm, suicide attempts and five hospitalizations, I am now being treated for bipolar.

I know these labels don’t define me or change who I am. I just wish I had a clear idea of what was wrong with me. I wish a had stability and could stop this constant transition between medications.

Most of all, I wish I wasn’t mentally ill.

I am now comfortable with having anxiety. I understand depression and PTSD. I know what these illnesses mean for me. But I do not understand bipolar. Does this mean I can never trust myself again? Things that I think are a good idea… are they actually or am I just being influenced by my illness? How do people know whether I’m ill or just a bad, reckless person? Is there a difference? Will I need to be medicated for the rest of my life?

I am in the process of making an action plan with my psychiatrist. I do know when I show early warning signs of becoming low and… high. I don’t think I’ll ever be comfortable with that word. What’s worse is I usually feel good when I’m “high.” I feel more confident. I have so many ideas and plans. I jump in head-first and think I can take it all.

But I can’t…

I wish I could make it stop. I wish I knew for sure whether this diagnosis was the final word. I wish I was motivated to make changes in my life. I’m starving right now… I haven’t got dressed. I need to do three university assessments. But I can’t bring myself to do any of it. Where is this so called “normal” state I’m supposed to have?

Update: It’s now been a few weeks since I started mood stabilizers. I think that they are helping, I feel more level headed and rational. However, I haven’t been taking care of myself and the effects of that have taken their toll. This has caused tension with people I care about and I am feeling quite low. I’m trying hard to get back into the things that help: exercise, meditation, healthy eating, etc. I urge anyone who is struggling to do what they know helps, to do what their treatment team suggests. Even when you feel like you don’t need to, do it. Do it, practice, make it become part of your routine. That way, when you need these skills most, during the times you have the least motivation, it won’t be so hard to get back up again.

We want to hear your story. Become a Mighty contributor here.

Images via Thinkstock

Find this story helpful? Share it with someone you care about.

Related to Mental Health

Woman hands holding cup of coffee

I’m Making My ‘Good Pile’ Grow in the Face of Mental Illness

I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about how helpless mental illness can make a person feel. I’ve been struggling more than usual. I can’t help but feel frustrated that all the time and effort I’m putting into getting better isn’t producing the results I’d like. I know life is full of peaks and valleys, [...]
black and white out of focus portrait of young woman with dark hair

The Things I Can't Tell You When You Ask, 'What's Wrong?'

How many times I smiled and replied with, “Nothing, I’m fine.” I have the tone down; you smile, you take it up a few octaves and you reply. How many times have I texted “I’m all good” with shaking fingers and bloodshot eyes. What is the appropriate response when someone asks you, “What’s on your [...]
closeup of a girls face lying in a bed

What I Mean When I Say ‘I’m Tired’ as Someone With Mental Illness

Many people use the expression “I’m tired” when they’ve had a lack of sleep or when they feel like they need a nap. When you’ve got mental health problems, sometimes “I’m tired” can also simply mean you’re lacking sleep, but often it means so much more. When I say I’m tired, I’m usually not just physically tired. [...]
woman in sweater drinking tea by the window

6 Things for People With Mental Illness to Keep in Mind This Holiday Season

The holidays can be scary for anyone struggling with mental illness. Every year during the holidays, I seem to have a manic episode. My anxiety keeps me from a lot of public places, and my depressive episode makes me question if I should even put any effort into the holidays when I’m barely hanging on. [...]