Step by Step version # 2794...

Step by Step version # 2794...

Sunday, 9 September 2012

Something I wrote on a mental health blog....more of a rant..


Something I wrote on a mental health blog....more of a rant..




Mental illness is NOT a character flaw!!!!

I have had issues with depression and anxiety and have complex PTSD and Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID - formally known as multiple personality disorder). The stigma from having the depression and PTSD was bad enough but put in DID and it's a whole new ball game!

To say it has been a challenge is an understatement but I have never felt better.

One of the best days of my life was in 2003 - even though it did not feel like it at the time - when I was correctly diagnosed. I have been very fortunate to have knowledgeable, caring professionals and supportive family and friends who have traveled with me on this journey. I also know that not everyone is so fortunate.

As everyone knows, having the right diagnosis for any medical condition is a must. It allows us to understand and treat the ailment in the best way possible that allows the patient to have the best chance in having a quality life.

Having the correct diagnosis in mental health is no different!

So what's stopping people form having the correct diagnoses?
Stigma.

The stigma and belief that it's a character flaw, and if they had a mental health issue that meant they were crazy. That if they tried harder, pulled their socks up, were smarter, were not lazy, dumb or stupid the issue would go away. It doesn't; I know this from personal experience.

My illness became so debilitating I could no longer work. Our family lost our home and were very close to being homeless. My husband's pension was $50 more than we would get on social assistance and worse, none of us knew what was wrong with me. I knew I had issues with my past, the depression and anxiety and PTSD, but there was something else. I thought I was crazy. I have since learned I am far from it.

Like other medical issues, being correctly diagnosed for a mental illness - the operative word being illness - can save one's life. I'm sure it has for me. And like any "medical" issue, the correct diagnosis not only helps the person with it, but their family and friends, as they can learn more about it and how to best support their loved one.

I look back now and realize that my father had an undiagnosed mental illness, and he, as well as his wife and every one of his kids paid the price. I think of how much damage this has caused all of the family and what it has cost society in terms of health care and lost potential.

As I said, I have had knowledgeable and caring professionals and I feel very fortunate for that, as I know not everyone is this fortunate. My family and friends (for the most part) have stuck by me during the ups and downs and the times "I am not feeling myself today."

That is why I advocate and educate about mental illness and DID. I have this condition but it is not who I am. As I tell my friends at the golf course, "the quality of my golf game is not indicative to who I am as a person". Meaning I have good game and bad games, but it's not who I am. Just like I have good days and bad days, but once again it's not indicative to who I am as a person.

The people in my life know I have this condition, it is no secret.
I am captain of my dragon boat team, play golf and ringette and am working on my memoirs. I volunteer in various organizations and am a much loved member of my community. I have spent the last few years advocating and educating others about DID and mental health. I meet regularly with my family doctor’s medical/practicum students and let them know what this condition is all about and how best they can help their future patients. I have done presentations at the local high school and college. I have a blog about living successfully with DID (http://suzy-livingsucessfullywithdid.blogspot.ca/) and a Facebook page (Building Awareness About DID), and this summer I am having an article published in "Insights to Clinical Counselling" (the BC Association of Clinical Counsellors journal).

It's been a long and sometimes very painful journey, but I am thankful for it as life has never been better.
I may have a mental illness, but it does not have me, and it is not who I am, or is indicative to who I am as a person.

Cheer and be well and I wish you all well on your journeys.

Suzy

2 comments:

  1. People should be more aware of mental health problems. We live in hard times and we are all facing this kind of problems from time to time.

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  2. Thanks for your post

    I agree with you, I guess thats part of the reason I speak to schools and my doctors medical students, and of course do this blog. If I can help one person understand and be more understanding and compassionate towards another, then its worth all the hard work.

    Thanks again

    Cheers and be well

    Suzy

    ReplyDelete