don’t let a diagnosis define you

Psychotic depression.
Major depressive disorder.
Bi-polar II.
Dissociative identity disorder.

Those are some of the diagnoses that I have been given by several psychiatrists (yes, several).

Maybe you’ve been diagnosed with some of those, too. Maybe you haven’t. Maybe you’ve never seen a psychiatrist before. But if you have, remember: don’t let a diagnosis define you. A diagnosis is a diagnosis. That is all – it isn’t a label, it isn’t a characteristic, it’s something that you have.

A diagnosis, is just a label for a disorder or illness that you have. Stomach flu is as much of a diagnosis as depression is. If you were diagnosed with stomach flu, would you go around saying, “I am stomach flu”? Would you think, “I have stomach flu because I’m weak”? No. Because that’s ridiculous.

It’s just as ridiculous to let yourself be defined by a mental illness. You are so much more than just a walking mental illness. You have a personality. You have your own unique heart and soul, and a life that no one before you has lived before. A mental illness may stay with you for years, decades, or maybe even your entire life. No matter how much of a firm grasp mental illnesses may have over your life, you are not a mental illness. You are a person.

It’s true because we — all of us — are infinitely complex beings. We aren’t our mental health diagnosis,  our jobs,  our roles, or actions we’ve taken or not taken.  We’re so much more than that.

Melissa Kirk (July 29, 2011)



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