Day 2: How do you feel about your diagnosis?
Before being officially diagnosed, I had a very weird relationship to the idea that I had bipolar. People thought my reluctance to accept it was to do with not wanting to be labelled. Actually it was almost the opposite: I knew that I had bipolar, and I wanted that acknowledged. But in my depressed state, I had convinced myself that I didn’t deserve a diagnosis and the concessions that came with it (ESA, extra time in exams, extra time for assignments… medication…). In my mind, I was a fraud and a liar, “not really ill” and the idea of being diagnosed made me feel absolute guilt.
After being diagnosed (second opinion) I had to admit that I wasn’t just making it up: it was an actual, real problem that I would have to face and deal with. It made it far easier to accept treatment once I had accepted that my bipolar wasn’t just some nonsense I’d invented out of weakness. It made it easier to accept help from the University. And it made it easier for me to explain things to people: look, I have bipolar. It’s not going to go away, it isn’t my fault and I will sometimes need help with it.
I know a lot of people hate their diagnoses, hate being labelled in what can seem an unhelpful way. I understand that, too. I know that ticking 5 boxes on a diagnostic list doesn’t necessarily mean that you have the disorder that that implies. I know that no two people with any given disorder are the same. And I completely understand not wanting to be considered a diagnosis rather than a person: https://balfourthrb.wordpress.com/2013/06/04/i-am-not-bipolar/ is something I wrote a while ago about how I “have” rather than “am” bipolar.
But for me, being placed in a box is allowing me to work my way out of the box. Having a diagnosis made my life easier. I sometimes hate having bipolar, but I love my diagnosis. In some ways, it saved my life.