Neither here nor there – on having mental health issues, but no real diagnosis

Well, here I go portraying myself as a mentally ill person on this blog. I write about how strange I feel sitting in psychology lectures, I get enraged over how professionals view and treat the mentally ill – and somewhere in my head a little voice says: “Yes, but you are just toying with this role! Everybody is a bit crazy, and you are just a normal neurotic who needs some kind of identity because he has achieved nothing else in life! You just pretend you are part of this group, and you assume the role of their advocate, but if anybody bothered to read your blog, they´d think of you as an impostor!”

I have this feeling that a layman´s perspective on mental health issues is only of interest if he is a diagnosed patient himself. Like: “So this is how someone with Borderline sees the world.”, or “So this is the way a person with Dissociative Identity Disorder experiences things.” I have the idea that this can tell readers something about the disorder in question, and therefore the blog is interesting.

And here I am – I never received an official diagnosis; I had to figure out what my former therapists thought I had by deciphering the ICD-10 codes on the bills by my health insurance. I do not identify with these diagnoses; and they do not even include most of my anxiety and phobia issues, probably because they were dormant back then when I saw therapists. Also, they are too vague and too various to assign some kind of perspective to me from which I supposedly see the world. I mean – is my perspective the perspective of someone who suffers from a depressive episode (August 2003), mixed depression and anxiety co-morbid with sexual deviation NOS (fall 2003) or dysthymia, personality disorder NOS and eating disorder NOS (fall 2005)? The accumulation of the letters NOS in my diagnoses says it all, doesn´t it? My therapists probably had no clue what was wrong with me, either. And unfortunately I don´t even know what lead them to their conclusions…

So I have no specific disorder around which I can center this blog. All I can say is that I am chronically not-really-happy and that I feel like in some way I am fundamentally different from “normal, healthy persons” (if such things exist). And besides, I suffer from those nasty phobias and anxiety attacks.  I guess finding out in what way I am different is part of the mission of this blog. Hence the name “possible truths (about myself)”.

Isn´t it strange, though? Yesterday I complained about how you are not taken seriously anymore as a participant in a mental health discussion if you are recognizable as a patient. Today I complain about needing the status as a diagnosed mental health patient in order to be regarded as someone who has something interesting to say about the matter. It is paradoxical, sure, but I think both is true. It might just depend on who you are talking to.

When talking to a professional, he might take you seriously as long as he thinks you are a student, not a patient or an interested layman. Therefore, it helps to not be diagnosed with anything. If you seek help and support from people who struggle with the things you struggle with, having a diagnosis would be quite helpful, though. It forces these people to accept you as one of them. I´ve seen online forums where people asking questions like “do you think I have [insert random disorder, often PTSD or personality disorders, though]…” were told off straight away: “Only a professional can diagnose you. Most likely you just have cyberchondria, though.” Besides, you know what group of people to look for. If you don´t really have a diagnosis, or if you don´t believe in the diagnoses you got, you are quite isolated.




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