Diagnosis. Is it a blessing or a curse?

For many, getting a diagnosis may just be regarded as being given a label, assigning them to a particular group, assigning them to be viewed as ‘mentally ill’. Others find it reassuring, that they have a recognised medical condition, one that they can find specific help for.

Some people are scared of going to their doctor, admitting their symptoms and getting that diagnosis. Mental health is misunderstood by the public in general and there are so many stereotypes and misconceptions that even a diagnosis won’t help anyone understand the condition any better. People fear that the diagnosis will become known and they will be viewed in the light of those misconceptions. There are so many labels out there these days and people are all grouped together as the same. For anyone with a mental health problem, you know that each case is different. It can be dangerous for everyone with ‘depression’, ‘OCD,’ ‘anorexia’, ‘anxiety’, ‘bipolar’ to be treated in the same way, so people recoil from being given that name. Most of the time when mental health is covered in the news it’s often because someone has committed some terrible crime. It’s hardly encouraging then to want to be given the same diagnosis.

There are others for whom a diagnosis comes as a relief. They finally have a name to their problems, that it is something that is recognised, something other people go through too. With a diagnosis there is also the hope that the problem can be helped. Not all mental health conditions can be cured, but a lot can be managed. A diagnosis means an individual can research their condition, find out all the possible things that might help and start finding out which is best for them. They can find other people with the same diagnosis, compare notes, use them as examples to try and explain to others what it is they struggle with. Doctors may offer medication or therapy. A diagnosis doesn’t always mean the right therapy, or there might be long waits. Mental health is seriously underfunded and there isn’t enough of the right help out there. But there is more hope the right treatment will come once diagnosed.

For me, I certainly found my diagnosis a relief. I knew already, before going to the doctors, what it was – but to hear a medical professional confirm it for me was a huge reassurance. I was able to have medication, I was able to get relief. I wasn’t alone and it wasn’t my fault. I’m well aware that every other person’s OCD is different from mine, but there are also great similarities and, although I don’t wish OCD on anyone, I find it comforting that I’m not alone. I’ve researched my condition further over the years and am finally really beginning to understand it. With this understanding comes the weapons for me to fight the battle.

I do understand people’s fears about getting a diagnosis, but in my experience it has only helped. There’s no need to tell anyone if you’re not ready, but I found strength in knowing. I would be most interested to hear what you think – are you scared of getting diagnosed? Have you got a diagnosis and did you find it helpful?

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5 comments on “Diagnosis. Is it a blessing or a curse?

  1. My son diagnosed himself (with the help of the Internet) with OCD and it was a huge relief for him, for all the reasons you say. In my own experience, there’s nothing worse than knowing you’re not well (physcially or mentally) and not having a diagnosis. Knowledge is power. Once you know what you are dealing with, you can take some action toward recovery.

    • For me it was a massive relief. , I though I was insane so for somebody to say, “yes, you have this condition but you’re not alone,” was a huge comfort to me. I feel knowledge is power and the more we know about OCD the more we can fight it.

  2. I think it’s a good thing insofar as helping one see that they’re not ‘to blame’ for having OCD; but, in my case, it has made me feel like an ‘island’ — isolated, different, and not willing to take advice from anyone because this is ‘my problem’ and only certain people ‘understand’ it and me.

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