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.

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