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How I'm Turning Shame From My Diagnoses Into Pride

There are a number of times from both my childhood and adulthood in which I experienced shame for the many undiagnosed conditions I have. It wasn’t necessarily that anyone else made me feel bad, but rather I simply felt a gnawing discomfort for being “different.”

I felt shame when I wore socks and sandals to the beach at 9 because of sensory processing disorder.

I felt shame when I needed to get extra help learning to tell time and count money at age 8 because of ADHD and math-related learning challenges.

I felt shame for crying at age 9 because I missed my mom while at school, to only experience the same overwhelming anxiety and sadness again at 19, when I moved away to college, because of anxiety and depression.

I felt shame when during my young adult years for the impulsive self-harming behaviors I took part in because of bipolar disorder, borderline personality disorder and anorexia nervosa — behaviors that ultimately brought me to the hospital.

I felt shame because of my obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) growing up, because even though no one could see it, I was living every day from a young age with disturbing or scary thoughts I felt would make me unlovable if others knew of them.

I felt shame when I was 15, when a particular series of traumas took place, because of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

A banner promoting The Mighty's new No Shame group on The Mighty mobile app. The banner reads, Struggling with self-judgment? The No Shame group is a safe space to talk about the things that tend to make us feel bad about ourselves and how to overcome those challenges. Click to join.

I may have felt shame many times throughout my life, however, today I feel pride. I am proud because of the mental and emotional differences I have overcome, as well as terrifying traumas. I am proud because, with the help of therapies, medications and strong social supports, I am doing better than ever.

I know the bad days will still come, and when they do, I do my best to keep moving forward. I do my best to rise above the shame that comes with learning disabilities, neurological differences, mental illness and trauma. I am strong, and I am here to share my story with others to know they are less alone. I may not have received any official diagnoses until adulthood, but I do feel my childhood adversities, as well as those in adulthood, have made me who I am.

Getty image by solarseven