Diagnosis – Trish
By the age of 19 after being admitted to Alma Street Clinic three times with ‘drug induced psychosis’, I was diagnosed with Bipolar Affective Disorder (BAD). It took me awhile to agree with this new label. I read up on it and found that the symptoms were similar to what I had been going through. Even though I did not agree with being put into this box, I accepted the ‘medical title’.
There is more to being in ‘the box’ than the title, there is also the therapy. I say therapy loosely because all it really was in the beginning was medication. This didn’t make sense to me as the obvious cause of the manic episodes was the drugs I was taking, and now the ‘cure’ was to put me on more drugs?
I got the explanation when I threw my medications away and found myself back in hospital (not advisable!). I couldn’t stop feeling unworthy and the shame that came with being diagnosed. I thought if I could get by without the medication then I would be ‘sane again’. Of course it’s not that simple. When a person is diagnosed there are reasons and situations that have brought them to that state of being - something that is not dealt with by the prescriptions.
Leading up to my hospital admissions, and the drug use preceding the admissions there was a lot of hurt and confusion within me that I just couldn’t understand (or didn’t want to). Now if anyone has ever used drugs they will understand (but if you haven’t, I will let you in on a secret) that drug users don’t start out with the intention to become drug addicts. Personally I didn’t even know the reasons why I started, other than everyone else was doing it. The reason I got addicted was to cover up the pain I felt, with the pleasure that drugs gave me. There were multiple reasons of diagnosis, my drug use intensified it.
Being diagnosed with mental illness (eventually) made me look at what was going on inside of me. I had to look at the reality of my situation. Eventually this caused me to accept where I was at. Only then could I begin to heal and overcome. It hasn’t been easy but through medication, support, counselling and personal retrospect I have been well for nearly four years.
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