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How I Learned the Importance of the Correct Diagnosis


My bipolar disorder diagnosis came out of the blue. It completely took me by surprise, but I guess it’s not exactly something you can prepare for.

Years before, I had been misdiagnosed with depression. I had been on medication which turns out only made my mental health worse. I was being treated for the wrong disorder after all. Antidepressants often worsen the effects of bipolar disorder and that’s exactly what happened.

When I was finally diagnosed with bipolar disorder, I was angry. I was angry this was happening to me and didn’t understand what I did to deserve it. I was also angry I had been treated for the wrong disorder but didn’t blame my doctors as mental illnesses are often very difficult to accurately diagnose. I would never wish it upon anyone else, but a part of me couldn’t help but wonder why I was the one that had to deal with mental illness.

Why couldn’t it have been someone else?

Why me?

Where did this even come from?

Shorty after I was diagnosed, my mom went to a psychiatrist to get her medication for anxiety and depression that she had been taking for many years. She wasn’t very open about her diagnosis but it wasn’t a secret either. The family knew. But while she was at the psychiatrist she received a different diagnosis.

Bipolar disorder.

Now I knew where I got it from.

I didn’t blame my mom or anything like that — after all, it wasn’t her fault. But I was angry that I happened to be the kid who got the bad genes. I was frustrated that I couldn’t change my genetic makeup or do anything that would permanently fix my brain. I hated being on medication.

But not only was I angry, I was sad too — sad that my mom had been going through the same thing I had been going through. Sad that she had been dealing with it for so many years and had been coping on her own without the correct treatment.

I couldn’t imagine it.

Her strength inspired me and continues to inspire me.

There was also a part of me that felt happy in a way though — excited almost — because now that we had our diagnoses, we finally knew what we were fighting, and more importantly how to fight it. I felt something I hadn’t felt in a long time.

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Hope.

Getting a diagnosis doesn’t have to be a negative experience. It doesn’t have to feel like a death sentence. It’s certainly not fun, but you can turn it into something positive if you choose to. It is often the first step to recovery and a better life. Even though it’s hard to be positive and see that in the moment, try your best to change your mindset.

Getting a correct diagnosis is so important because it ultimately determines your treatment plan. Make sure you spend time on your mental health and do get a correct diagnosis, even though it can be incredibly difficult to do and is easier said than done. Get a second opinion. See multiple doctors if you feel like you need to. Do your own research. Make sure you know what you’re up against because once you know what you’re fighting, you can adjust your strategies accordingly and ultimately win the battle.

Now that doesn’t mean that the war is over unfortunately, especially when it comes to something like mental illness. The war might never be over, but you will get better at fighting it and the fight will become easier every single day.

So keep that chin up, soldier; you’ve got this.

Editor’s note: This story has been published with permission from the author’s mother.

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Unsplash photo via Joshua Earle

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