Diagnosing

There’s been so much to write about lately.  Unfortunately, my mental state has not been very good, which always stands in the way of communicating.

My Mentalization Based Therapy started three weeks ago.  I’ve also been attending some courses at the Recovery College; Five ways to Wellbeing, Mindfulness and today I was on a one-day course, Introduction to Personality Disorders.

One thing that comes up quite a lot for me is something I’m not altogether sure I totally agree with.  So often, I hear people say things like, “We are not our diagnosis” and “Treat the person and not the diagnosis”.  The more knowledgeable person will point out how symptoms of many of the mental disorders tend to overlap, making it difficult to identify an accurate diagnosis.

Today, people were talking about why a diagnosis might not be a positive experience for the individual and how some get different diagnosis, depending on the Psychiatrist assessing them.  Of course, I do have experience of all the stereotypical stigmatisation, but I also know the value of finally being diagnosed with something that I can relate too, even recover from.

One of the trainers is very much against labelling people with a diagnosis.  What I did notice was how often she referred to her dyslexia as a means of communicating to everyone why her spelling is so bad.  She owns that diagnosis as a label and I don’t think there is anything wrong with that.

For thirteen years, I tried hard to persuade a Psychiatrist to re-assess my diagnosis.  My symptoms were not all down to depression and PTSD.  There was a need to seek an understanding through labelling.  At the time, what I didn’t understand, was that the Doctor was actually treating the person and not a diagnosis. 

While I believe ‘treating the person’ is a nice balance to have when working with people with mental health issues, it is not very helpful if someone is trying hard to understand certain “challenging” traits of their own personality.

I’m trying to understand Borderline Personality Disorder and how it applies to my own life.  It’s not like some other mental disorders that come and go through phases and episodes.  Borderline is present every waking second of our lives, both in our relationship with ourselves and with others.  I may well be MORE than my diagnosis, but embracing it is important because it helps me to identify contributory factors to past and present difficulties.  How can I recover if I don’t know what I’m recovering from?

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19 thoughts on “Diagnosing

  1. myspokenheart

    Well said cat, “How can I recover if I don’t know what I’m recovering from?”. I think that the issue with diagnosis perhaps comes down to the individual. For some diagnosis is a grand “ah-ha!” moment, for others it is a label that can even lead to worsening symptoms. There are those who will use it as a means to better understand what is going on within themselves and therefore they be able to strive towards recovery, and there are those who will now accept is as a label therefore limiting/excusing themselves from recovery.

    I find that personality profiles work on a similar basis: some use them as a way to better understand themselves so that they can learn to cope with or even change certain inherit behaviours while others will use it as a means to excuse ‘bad’ behaviours and will even go so far as to change themselves to better fit the mold of their apparent profile – like a means to an identity perhaps.

    I believe that it is the strong who use diagnosis as a step to understanding, coping and improving whenever possible. Cat, YOU are one of the strong, don’t forget that, try to hold on to it especially in the down times… Big ((HUGS))

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    1. Cat Post author

      Thank you MSH for taking the time to write a clear understanding of how diagnosing can affect different kinds of people. You are spot on! I don’t see myself as very strong but do embrace the diagnosis as a means of finding my way towards recovery.
      Much appreciated, thanks

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  2. mm172001

    Agreed, knowing my diagnosis made me feel like there was a reason to all the craziness. I could research what it is and what helps. I use to identify as a Borderline and had my identity so wraped up in that, and that can be a bad thing especially for people with BPD. Why I won’t go around explaining my behavior by BPD, there is comfort internally knowing why I sometimes do what I do.
    Diagnosis a double edge sworded and different for everyone. I think there is such a movement to remove “labels” because it is thought of as a safer or better option for people even though it might not be the efficient and correct decision.

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    1. Cat Post author

      Thank you for commenting. What you say is so very true for myself. I’m not your typical Borderline with behaviour and wouldn’t like to start making excuses for how I am. I definitely can understand the move not to put too much emphasis on the diagnosing, but as MSH commented, some of us use it as a means to recover rather than to explain/make excuses for our behaviour.
      Hope you’re doing okay

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  3. Susan Irene Fox

    Cat, I agree with myspokenheart, and I will take it one step further. I think it is not necessarily a matter of recovering from, but understanding a diagnosis to be able to cope with, live with and thrive with our illness. Just like recovery from diabetes may not be an option; if you have it, you must learn the symptoms, the treatment, and how to live with it in a healthy way.

    You and I both suffer from depression. I don’t know if recovery from depression is an option, but with the right medication and lifestyle, I know ways to minimize it, I know to watch for its triggers, its oncoming symptoms, and how to obtain help if I see myself getting ill.

    And I completely agree that you are strong enough to do all that.

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    1. Cat Post author

      Thank you, Susan. I don’t feel strong, especially at the moment. However, I do agree with you that it is necessary to understand and follow a treatment programme through knowledge of our diagnosis.
      Many thanks for taking the time to comment. Your support is always greatly appreciated

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      1. Susan Irene Fox

        Cat, there are moments when we don’t feel strong; don’t allow your temporary feelings or fears to control you. Down deep, you are a survivor, and you have survived the worst. Now, dig deep into those reserves – that courage to keep on going – and use that courage to move you forward one step, one day at a time. Keep focused on what you can do, not what you can’t. And hang in there.

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  4. Priceless Joy

    I understand what you are saying Cat. I wasn’t given a diagnosis by my psychiatrist. It wasn’t until many years later that I learned I had severe depression, anxiety, and PTSD. Yet, even without a diagnosis I was determined to get out of the hell my mind was putting me through. Sheer determination, not being hard on myself, and consistently working toward the goal somehow got me there. There are times that stress with set off my anxiety and side effects of that, but fortunately that doesn’t happen as often anymore.

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  5. Ellen

    Sorry you aren’t feeling that well Cat. Sometimes starting therapy can make you feel worse – it brings more issues to the surface, and you seem to be doing a lot.

    I actually sympathize with both sides of this huge issue. I believe a lot of people have been harmed by diagnosis. They can receive harmful meds, for instance, or be told there is nothing to be done for them, as they will always have the condition, leading to hopelessness.

    However, for you, I can really see how the diagnosis is important to you and is helpful. I feel the same way about mine. However, I personally would not get involved in the medical system. If I told a doctor about ‘voices’ I could be diagnosed with schizophrenia for instance, and that would be completely unhelpful. However, It is helpful to me to know what I might be dealing with, so I can read about treatments that help, and features of the problem.

    I think it’s so important to keep seeing and treating everyone as a whole person though. Something that can go by the wayside in the medical system where people are seen only as a particular illness. I also understand the need for a more analytical viewpoint.

    I guess I’m a waffler. 🙂

    I hope you are feeling better at this point.

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    1. Cat Post author

      Hi Ellen

      I think you’re right about therapy bringing a lot of issues to the surface. Sometimes the issues just come up without any particular prodding. Going through therapy and also the recovery college, does start to highlight how unacceptably bad life has been and what changes are needed

      As far as diagnosing, I can appreciate why a diagnosis can prove unhelpful for many. I think balance is needed. Like you, I don’t allow myself to be in a position of baring my soul to every professional. I avoid the difference of opinions and variable ideas regarding medication.

      Thank you so much for commenting. Your support has become part of my recovery ;0)

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  6. karenbethc

    I always enjoy reading your blogs because you are honest and open about what you are thinking and going through. I love seeing your name show up on my blog because I know you understand 🙂 thank you so much for writing with honesty .. your not alone 🙂 keep writing, keep healing … keep connecting

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  7. Simon Edgley

    Obviously without knowing what medications you are either on or have tried and without wishing to push anything on you, I would suggest having a read up about Pregabalin.

    Its used as an anti-anxeity drug and doesn’t have those horrific side effect that come with traditional Anti-Dreoseents; I am speaking of personal experience of both.

    The difference it has made to my ability to deal with the world is night and day; now if I can just get the world to deal with me 🙂

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    1. Cat Post author

      Hi Simon….. I actually take Pregablin 2 x 75mg for nerve pain, but it does help with anxiety and sleep.

      Thank you for taking the time to comment, it is appreciated

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      1. Simon Edgley

        Compared to writing the articles, replying is a piece of cake 🙂
        For Pregabalin to be effective for anxiety, one needs to be taking a much higher does.
        I drop 200 in the morning, 200 late afternoon and the last 200 around 10. I soon know if I have left it too long as I get this feeling someone is always about to jump out from behind the sofa and scare me.
        I did have a visitor, once, whom suffers from depression and “stuff”. An hour after dropping 100 she was able to go out and enjoy herself, something she admitted would not have been possible on just her SSRIs.
        Anyways, just my opinion, not pushing it on you 🙂

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