How a Misdiagnosis Can Affect Your Mental Health

Sat in a room in the psychiatric hospital with a psychiatrist and other mental health professionals, I wasn’t prepared for a new diagnosis. I didn’t feel like my current diagnosis of paranoid schizophrenia was incorrect. I had come to accept it and learned to manage it somewhat. I researched it a lot and understood it. Then it was taken away from me within the blink of an eye, replaced with borderline personality disorder (BPD), also known as emotionally unstable personality disorder. I was shocked, I was confused and I was angry. I didn’t understand how the professionals had come to this decision. I felt conflicted.

Over the next few months, my mental health deteriorated and I had many hospital admissions. I really couldn’t comprehend this new diagnosis. I kept repeating it in my head. “Borderline personality disorder.” I couldn’t settle with this disorder, so I decided to do my extensive research. Doing that wasn’t easy for me. My concentration levels were low and reading through the symptoms of borderline personality disorder, I became extremely frustrated. Most of the symptoms I just didn’t understand, because I’d never experienced them. I didn’t feel emotionally unstable until I received that diagnosis, and that was because of the severe stress I was experiencing because of it. Reading different articles and books, I realized I couldn’t identify with this diagnosis. It didn’t sit well with me at all, and I felt frequently upset at being misunderstood by the professionals.

Then I made a conscious decision to fight. I had to fight for my own health. I disagreed with the professionals completely and I made this known. I decided I could not let this affect my mental health any longer, and so I spent months waiting for a second opinion. Even waiting for this appointment, I felt at a loss. I had already felt like one psychiatrist did not listen to me, so I was sure it was going to happen again. This added more stress to my already-stressed mind, but I knew I couldn’t stop fighting. I knew I had to do right by myself.

In August 2017, an appointment with another psychiatrist became available. Even though I was extremely nervous and pessimistic about it, I felt like I had to be strong in order to be listened to, and so I walked into the psychiatrist’s office with my head held high.

Within five minutes, I felt completely at ease. This consultant was so understanding. He let me speak about my concerns, worries and stressors and he thoroughly listened to me. Not only this, but he had extensively researched my past experiences through the hundreds of notes and reports over two and a half years. He understood that my psychotic symptoms were mostly under control at this point because of medication. He understood I experience paranoia and he understood I couldn’t identify with BPD. He asked me specific questions and told me things I’d heard from my old psychiatrist, such as thought broadcasting, delusions and gedankenlautwerden (hearing one’s thoughts out loud). He said it seemed like I had a psychotic disorder, rather than a personality disorder — just what I had thought for the past eight months. He agreed I was wrongly diagnosed and took into account all the symptoms I experience.

Once again, my diagnosis is up in the air, but a few psychotic disorders have been mentioned, such as schizoaffective disorder. This time, the professionals are taking their time in getting to know me and my experiences.

The message in this article is that misdiagnosis does and can happen to anyone. If you feel like you don’t agree in any way then please, for the sake of your mental health, speak up about it. You are entitled to a second opinion. Also, your own opinion matters and is completely valid. You do not have to sit in silence or fear or even let your mental health deteriorate. You can fight and you can be heard.

Follow this journey on the author’s blog.

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Photo by Sarah Diniz Outeiro on Unsplash

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