beautiful womans face with decorated hair in the wind

When You Still Have an Undiagnosed Mental Illness


We live in a world of labels. Labels like: friend, daughter, colleague, writer, artist. Putting things into boxes makes it easy for us to navigate our world and in a way, it helps us define a sense of self.

But when it comes to mental health, it’s not that simple. Things aren’t always black and white. And unlike a lot of physical health, like broken bones or a runny nose, mental health is usually invisible, despite physical manifestations.

We hear a lot of stories about mental health diagnoses and how people learn to manage it. But there’s also another side of the story. The time before a diagnosis — a road before the recovery.

It’s not that I don’t fit into any boxes, it’s almost like I fit into too many. Despite not having a formal diagnosis, even going to multiple health professionals, I know something is wrong. I struggle with food because my body dysmorphia tells me my inability to only eat the bare minimum makes me useless. My depressive episodes stop me from leaving bed, showering, meeting friends — but they never last the two week cycle for me to be considered manic depressive. I don’t have manic episodes that would make me bipolar. I experience over half a dozen anxiety attacks a day. I see hallucinations from time to time. Yet I still don’t have an official diagnosis. Does that make me any less sick?

I struggle with mental health and I’ve been seeking health for almost seven years now, and I still don’t have a diagnosis.

And I struggle with having no diagnosis. Why? Because it makes me feel like a fraud. Despite the fact that my therapist tells me I’m not well, she won’t tell me what’s wrong. She won’t tell me what kind of sick I am. I don’t feel validated in my own mental health, just because I can’t put a name to my monster.

It’s something that I struggle with every day, because I know that I am not well, but I don’t know what is making me ill, so I don’t know how to fix it — how to feel better. The strategy of “just waiting it out” only works so many times, only works so well, before you get tired and frustrated of being tired and frustrated.

I just wanted to write this and share with whoever is reading, that, if you are living without a diagnosis, you are not alone. And you are valid. I understand the frustrations you may be going through. The trial and error with medication. The switching of therapists, starting over. Wait list upon wait list to see doctors, to do tests, only to come up with the same answer: they don’t know what’s wrong but you can always try this new medication. You are not struggling alone. And I know it’s hard to keep trying, when the answer is always “nothing,” but keep trying, one day at a time. And I’ll try with you. One day at a time.

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

Thinkstock photo via AnkDesign

TOPICS
JOIN THE CONVERSATION

Related to Mental Health

stigmatizing mental illness costumes

5 Super Scary Halloween Costumes (That Don't Stigmatize People With Mental Illness)

Choosing your Halloween costume is a big decision for some people. Should you go with a classic, scary costume inspired by your favorite thriller? Or something more ironic that fits your clever personality? As you’re mulling over your endless options, you might consider dressing up as a “crazy” person. You know, someone who looks like [...]
a photo of marijuana

What I Want Other's to Know About Using Marijuana to Treat Mental Illness

It’s no secret that there is a stigma surrounding the use of marijuana in the United States. Although it has been legalized for recreational use and medicinal use across the country, the drug still hasn’t been legalized on a federal level. Many people find marijuana usage problematic, but they may not realize it can be used to help treat mental illness. [...]
Kai Anderson American Horror story

How ‘American Horror Story’ Profits Off Mental Health Stereotypes

Sometimes the news isn’t as straightforward as it’s made to seem. Juliette Virzi, The Mighty’s Associate Mental Health Editor, explains what to keep in mind if you see this topic or similar stories in your newsfeed. This is The Mighty Takeaway.  Editor’s Note: The following contains spoilers for and predictions of what will happen in “American Horror Story: [...]

Colton Haynes Posts a Reminder for Anyone Who's Had Their Mental Illness Dismissed

On Tuesday, “American Horror Story” actor Colton Haynes shared a selfie on Instagram for World Mental Health Day, and his message may ring true for anyone with a mental illness who’s been called “dramatic.” Haynes, who has been open about his experience with depression and anxiety in the past, wrote in the caption, “I know [...]