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How a Mental Illness Diagnosis Is Like Getting a New Pair of Glasses

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In seventh grade I was prescribed my first pair of glasses. Up until this point, I thought the way I saw things was “normal.” I thought everyone else saw things the same way. The day I put on that first pair of glasses, I realized I had been living a blurred life, only experiencing half of the picture. Later in life I experienced this same feeling, except the second time around, it was with my mental health.

I grew up knowing I was a little bit different and that I didn’t fit in, but I was fine with it since I thought I was just being me. Everyone said I was just really shy and so I had a harder time making friends. For the longest time, I thought I believed them. When I got older I started missing school for sports competitions, and I used that as an excuse as to why I didn’t have many friends and was always so tired. The truth is, at that point I didn’t see anything wrong with how I was feeling and acting since it was normal to me. This was how I always felt so I thought everyone was this way and just showed it differently. There were times when people tried to tell me differently, but I was so deep in this blurred life that I never listened.

When I started my journey to getting help, it was just like that first optometrist appointment. The questions about my mental health were like the vision tests, and I didn’t fully understand the logistics of it all. But just like with my eyes, once the diagnosis was made, things started to make sense. Everything I have done from that first appointment to now has been like putting on that first pair of glasses. Things look clearer, I realize what I missed out on and I can see life from a new perspective. Just like my eyesight, it sometimes gets bad or even worse. But that’s when you try on a new pair of glasses — to find that clearer lens to give me a new point of view.

Originally published: March 7, 2016
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