What to do after a mental illness diagnosis 


No one wants to hear those words you have an illness.  But outside of cancer there are few diagnosis that trump a mental illness label.  It can be very depressing.  So now that you have it -what do you do next?

Here are some common answers to that question:

1.  Deny it.  Belief the doctor or therapist is wrong and you are perfectly healthy.  It is everyone else who has the problem.

2.  Cry.  It is a sad day to get told something is not quite right and that maybe you will need medications for the rest of your life.  That’s no fun to hear.  Grab a box of tissues and let it all sink in.

3. Rejoice.  Well a little dramatic but if you were looking for something to explain how you thought or felt or acted and now all of a sudden things made sense that’s a pretty good day.

4.  Question.  Is the doctor right?  Get a second opinion.

5. Accept it and start learning how to recognize warning signs of the illness.  Become a student and learn everything you can so you manage the illness and it does not manage you.

6.  Ignore it.  Pretend as if the doctor has not just told you you have a severe mental illness and you will need treatment most likely for the rest of your life.

In my personal journey I have done each one of those responses.  #6 is by far the worst choice in my personal experience.  But I do understand all the choices and know everyone has their own reasons for choosing how they react and deal with it.

No matter where you are in your process think about what worked the best for you.   In the end #5 gave me my life back.  It is my choice and recommendation for others confronted with this challenge.

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2 thoughts on “What to do after a mental illness diagnosis 

  1. I’ve experienced all of those. I chose #6, too, and it cost me 12 years of undiagnosed loss and misery. In 2013, I was diagnosed with an Organic Brain Injury. My doctor’s told me in 2001 that I most likely had suffered a brain injury as result of the botched surgery, and lack of oxygen to my brain for four consecutive days. I ignored their advice and did not seek help from medical professionals. I went back to running my company, and I thought I was doing fine. My life became a life of excess in every aspect. I self-medicated to fight off bouts of mania and psychosis. It worked a little until my life fell completely apart in 2008. Over the next three years I became indigent, and found myself in constant and continuous legal trouble. I experienced jails and institutions, and endured manic episodes lasting up to four weeks at a time. After each episode, I fell into deep deep states of depression until the next manic or psychotic episode, or serious seizure. By 2013, I could no longer care for myself at all. I was institutionalized, and it took fifteen months post diagnosis for my team of mental health professionals to stabilize me. After I was stabilized, I was able to completely understand my diagnosis, and I was able to rational review all of the brain scans and explanations associated with my illness. I have been relatively stable since with infrequent mania, and occasional periods of being susceptible to seizures. As more scarring presents on the outer surfaces of my brain, I am able for the most part to identify changes in my moods, etc, and I notify my doctors immediately, and they change my meds, and usually hit the nail on the head.

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    1. Kevin…as we have spoken I am sorry you had to walk in hell to come out the other side. But now you are a survivor and have gained the wisdom to share with other people. That is the gift in the healing process to be in a position to help someone else.

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