Diagnosis could be a scary word. I could be fearful, worried, embarrassed. I could be saddened by the finality of it all, or I could be discouraged by the severity. Receiving a diagnosis could be seen as the end of a story.
My story is not over. Far from it, my story is just beginning.
Instead of experiencing any of these negative emotions, I have been feeling:
This week, I received the gift of knowledge from an expert in the field of mental health.
A little bit about me: Information is my best friend. I am your friend that wants to know the bad news first, and I want all the news. I feel better when I KNOW.
All of my doubts are dispersed by knowledge. The fog of uncertainty dissipates and I can finally see.
I can finally be.
This week I received the gift of a diagnosis: I discovered a definitive name for the feelings and thoughts that follow me through the minutes and the months. And for me, this made all the difference.
I sought out a very qualified and knowledgeable psychologist near me, and engaged in clinical interviews and standardized testing. I talked and hoped and crossed my fingers and worried and prayed… and waited.
I have received an official diagnosis of the following mood disorders:
Generalized Anxiety Disorder
Major Depressive Disorder (severe, recurring)
These might be scary words to some, but to me these were gems of hope. These big terms are mine to own, to battle, and to accept.
These are not question marks. They are not doubts. They are not anxieties. These are FACTS.
Facts make all the difference.
My journey toward a healthier mental state has been long, winding, and varied. Over the course of the last three years, I have seen many different professionals with many different titles and certifications. I have meditated. I have slept with a million wires attached to my head. I have adopted an emotional support animal. I have diligently attended therapy. I have taken prescribed drugs.
Up until now, we were treating a questionable problem. We were managing symptoms, and when another came up I felt surprised and scared. I doubted my own mind and my own experience because I simply did not understand.
Now, I understand.
Those months of measured depression rates on the “severe” scale,
Unbelievable bouts of sleepiness and inhumanly long naps,
Unexplained weeks of complete apathy,
And a feeling that even the smallest tasks came at too high an effort cost…
All of these things were terrifying, and all the more so because I didn’t believe them. I didn’t believe they were actually happening. They couldn’t be. This wasn’t like me.
Now, these things all fall into place.
“Major depression” means that these things fit into some feasible category of “normal.”
It means that these things were not my fault, and that I wasn’t exaggerating (even to myself).
My intuition knew, even back as early as last February, that something was deeply wrong. That my treatments for anxiety were not entirely working.
This means that I was right.
That I can trust myself.
It’s a long journey to reaching my true self… but I feel so relieved and encouraged this week by the new information I have gained. It’s only going up from here.
“It’s so nice for the dragons to have a name. Now you can stab them with ease.” -A dear supportive friend