I was diagnosed with my first mental illness at 15. It was from my basic family pediatrician who diagnosed me with depression after giving me a single sheet of paper and telling me to rate how often each of the items listed occurred in my day-to-day life. After this, he proceeded to give me a one month prescription for a low-grade dosage of a standard antidepressant and told me to come back when I ran out and we would see if we needed to continue.
I didn't go back for two and a half months.
It really wasn't something I took seriously. First of all, he was a standard pediatrician, not a psychiatrist. His diagnosis was based on self-answered questions on a piece of paper, and truthfully, what did he know about what I was dealing with?!
At a time when everyone is telling you "these are the BEST four years of your life," the last thing you want to have to face is the suffocating magnitude of your own darkness in your head. A time when all of your friends are having their first boyfriends, or their first kiss, or going to their first party, the LAST thing you should have to go through is suicidal thoughts.
I thought that with this diagnosis, my life would be ruined, and from that moment on it would be totally focused on nothing but what pills I was taking, my mood rating, constant monitoring, blah, blah, blah.
So I didn't take it seriously. I thought that if I continued seeking treatment and continued seeing an unqualified professional, he would continue giving me unqualified diagnoses.
But I was also terrified of going to see an actual qualified professional and them telling me that, yes, there is something wrong with you and you are one f*cked up mess.
I thought my diagnosis would dictate my life moving forward from that point on. I thought my diagnosis would make me lesser of a person. So I didn't take it seriously.
I waited five months before finally seeking out a psychiatrist on my own. Five months of unnecessary additional suffering all because I was terrified that my diagnosis would consume me for the rest of my life and that I would have to wear my diagnoses tattooed on my forehead for the entire world to see and shame.
But what I didn't realize, is that the actual real diagnosis from an actual qualified professional, made me feel more whole.
That actual real diagnosis made me feel more understood and heard and in some way, validated. That actual real diagnosis is what made me realize that it wasn't all in my head, it wasn't something that I had to be ashamed of, it wasn't something I had to keep all to myself anymore because finally, someone could tell me what was going on and could actually help me.
Your diagnosis doesn't make you any less of a person. And your diagnosis isn't something you have to fear or something that you have to be ashamed of. Anyone and everyone can be struggling. I promise you are not alone and there are so many people that can and want to help you see how life can get better.
If you or someone you know is experiencing suicidal thoughts, call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline — 1-800-273-8255