Wednesday 29 June 2016

What It Feels Like To Be Diagnosed With A Mental Illness

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This post is going to be very subjectively written. I can't sit here and tell you what it's going to be like for you because I simply don't know. Just like anything in life- the experience will be different for everyone, and I can only tell you my story, from my point of view. What it feels like to be diagnosed with a mental illness, depends on many different factors; how severe your mental illness is, how aware you were of what it could be before you went, the support you have from friends and family and how comfortable you feel speaking openly about it.

I don't really know where this post is going to go if I am honest. I don't want it to be a big old ramble but as I write this, it's been like two hours since coming back from my doctors and I haven't done anything! Everything is everywhere at the moment, but I thought getting my feelings and thoughts down on paper or on a screen at least would help me out a bit.

I hope you enjoy this post. I mean, I don't think 'enjoy' is the right word but I hope it educates you in some way or provides you with reassurance if you are about to go through a similar situation. 

Last Friday (otherwise known as doomsday, black Friday or the day where the UK made the worst decision ever to leave the EU) I was diagnosed with OCD. Well, I think I was. And that's the first point I would mention, doctors don't say "You have ..." because they know how uncomfortable that can make you feel. They may ask you if you have any ideas of what it may be. This is the point where I lied a little because I didn't want to say that I was very aware of OCD, I just said I knew of it. You don't have to lie, doctors will still help you regardless of your prior knowledge.

To me, one of the biggest things that I couldn't quite get over is how quickly it is done. I worried, fretted and went nearly insane for three long weeks, for it to all be over in 10 minutes. Yet, I felt like everything was discussed thoroughly and the important plans were put in place. Although I didn't discuss everything with my doctor, the main symptoms were talked about and I was provided the help and reassurance I needed.  

I wish I could sit here and tell you I felt like a massive weight had been lifted off my shoulders, which is what you may think would have happened but it didn't. Although I was given medication to help my OCD, I then started to panic about it. The medication I was given, is not usually given to people under the age of 18 because of the side effects it can have. I am scared of the effect it is going to have upon my body and if it is going to make things worse or make me very, very ill.

Alongside this, therapy is often given to people with mental health problems, such as CBT. My doctor wanted to speak to someone about it but couldn't at the time, so said he would ring me back later! ANXIETY!!! OMG, I hate speaking on the phone, more than anything! So that also put me on edge for the rest of the day.

I mentioned at the start of the post, how you deal with a diagnosis of mental illness depends on many different factors. For me, I didn't feel like I had a lot of support at home. I know that my parents care about me and love me lots and lots, but I just felt like my OCD was just a burden upon everyone and it's better if I didn't speak about it. This just added to the stress and worry for the rest of the day, as I went to the doctors alone and spent the whole day on my own, while they were at work. I didn't really want to talk about it over the phone because it's not easy.

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For me, it didn't change anything internally for me. I knew beforehand what was wrong with me, I knew I wasn't mad and I knew about the chemicals and reasons behind it because I had done a lot of research prior but also because I have had a general interest in mental health and psychology for a long time. However what it did do for me was it opened my imaginary doors to let me talk more openly about it with you guys like I am doing in this post!

Due to the stigma that surrounds mental health, in particular, OCD I found it really hard to talk about it because I didn't have a formal diagnosis. People just assume, that when you say you have OCD you like to be neat and orderly or you double check things, but this isn't the case at all. I didn't want you guys thinking I was trying to claim to have something, which at the time I did have but didn't have a formal diagnosis for. I found it hard writing posts like 'My Letter To My Future Self' where I touched on some of my symptoms but I couldn't say I think I have OCD. Now I can talk more openly about it.

Being diagnosed with a mental illness is never going to be fun or easy. Once you put a label on yourself that immediately puts you in the firing line for comments and questions, which are often negatively associated with that label. You are sadly more at risk of discrimination and ignorance from uneducated people. You, of course, don't have to tell people about your mental illness, but sometimes going through it alone makes the whole experience a million times worse but so can telling people, who don't understand.Who should I tell? What should I say? Should I tell them everything? or just parts?  These questions are firing around in my head as a right this.

In all honesty, I am glad I went to the doctor on that very bizarre Friday morning. Not only does it mean that I am closer to receiving the help I need to control my OCD it also means that I can tell people I trust I have a mental health condition and reach out to people in similar situations, hoping they will be able to understand. Although the diagnosis is just the beginning and the road ahead is very, very long, it's the right road to be on.

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I am still me. I am still Nicole. I am still the weird, over emoji user, blogger who blogs about just about anything. Except now I have something that makes my life a little bit more stressful and more difficult than it needs to be. My mental illness is something that does not define me. My mental illness is something I can beat by staying strong. 

No matter what mental illness you are going to the doctor to talk about, it won't be easy but it's the right decision. Being diagnosed with a mental illness can be a big point in your life, but it doesn't have to be the end of your life. I hope this post has provided anyone about to go through a similar situation with some reassurance.

I hope to document my mental health, journey, as a way of therapy for me, on my blog over the next couple of months providing support and advice for those going through similar situations to myself but also those wishing to be educated more about mental health and help break the stigma! It's a lot easier talking to 1000 of you than anyone in real life.

If you ever want to talk to me about mental health or need any more help, support or if you have any more questions, please feel free to email me: or DM me on Twitter and I will be there for you! I know how it feels and I wouldn't want you to be alone!

Thank you for reading, as always x

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