This week is Mental Illness Awareness Week in the United States! Started by the National Alliance on Mental Illness, its a week dedicated to help bringing awareness about the effects of mental illness and support for loved ones that live with it. I hope to be able to write something about living with mental illness each day this week, spoons permitting – fingers crossed!
Sometimes I find myself questioning my own diagnoses. I go through this process every year or so, sometimes managing to last a couple years. When it happens tends to vary – sometimes it’s during the winter, other times it’s during the fall, basically any time that stress is high and I find myself confused and wishing for answers I do not yet have. And considering I do not have stable access to medical care, these answers are hard to come by. They’re dependent on my own research abilities and the clinical studies I have access to (which are pretty much jack shit, short of abstracts).
I’ve been in that period of self-questioning again. Which is probably why my posts on here and on tumblr seem so contradictory when talking about things such as mental health. Physical health aside, that is the one I have been questioning the most because I never actually got much treatment for it, let alone investigation for diagnosis. My current one was done within two days, after seeing a psychiatrist I’ve never seen before for about 30 minutes at a time, over a subject he had no experience with and had to research himself for possible answers, and during a period where I had relapsed so much that my connection to the world (and thus language) was so incredibly strained that I barely knew to get help (I actually had to be convinced by my partners) – let alone how and what to say. So of course I find myself questioning it, because the situation is very open to inaccuracy.
But as I have in the past, even over this very struggle, I come right back to the same diagnosis. Even if the situation itself was questionable, the diagnosis seems to fit through all of the possibilities. Perhaps it was out of sheer luck. I don’t know. But as much as I question it, it does seem to match up.
I tell myself that perhaps I shouldn’t be questioning it so much and instead I should be looking into more information about the spectrum, to find out more and that would probably answer my various concerns. But I also realize that this questioning has been providing me with a lot of answers and the drive to seek them out specifically, instead of this huge web of possibilities. The more I focus on the spectrum as a whole, the more daunting it seems to be because of just how much information there is, with so many different directions. It’s incredibly intimidating and makes it very hard to find information that I can identify with and understand on a personal level.
So for now, the questioning of myself seems to be serving a purpose. It allows me to find specific questions or concepts that I wish to find information for, and then the drive to look for it in that vast web. Though this process seems to be causing me a lot of stress in itself, when it’s supposed to be helping alleviate it. Perhaps if I look at it from a different angle, thinking to myself “okay. So there’s the possibility that this symptom points to another spectrum or condition. But is it also possible that it’s present in the schizotypal spectrum and I’m simply unaware of it?” And then research further from there. If I look at it from a more clinical perspective, while also acknowledging that I’ll be gaining personal information I can use throughout my life and for intimate understanding of my self, it may help alleviate the stress that it would otherwise cause.
I think this is one of the reasons why I’m so interested in psychology. Many psychology majors talk about how they want to help people, to connect with them and provide them with resources that they wouldn’t have available to them otherwise. This is only partially the case with me. I want to help them, yes – but in the way that wasn’t available to me. I know this personal struggle well, perhaps a bit too well, and because of it I gain a much closer understanding of the spectrum than many others do. I can bring that into the field, to help provide them with a perspective that they otherwise would not have access to, because people are more often than not neurotypical. The medical fields need this level of understanding because otherwise, they cannot connect with the very people they seek to help. We can’t connect with them in turn.
Then with that, I’d be able to take this intimate understanding and connect with the people I work with on a level that few others can, working with them in a world we both understand. And then together, kin and I, we can learn more about ourselves and grow to accept who we are.