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March 18, 2019 | by  | in SWAT | [ssba]

Diagnosis like Alphabet Soup

I like to joke that my mental health diagnoses are like alphabet soup: ASD, GAD, BPAD-2, C-PTSD… the list goes on.


It’s been quite difficult throughout my university experience and I’ve experienced a number of setbacks including frustration over having to withdraw from classes, not being able to get the grades I wanted to progress, being too anxious to speak in tutorials, and often just spending days in bed wrapped in a duvet eating cold pizza and watching Netflix because doing anything else was too painful, including the mountain of readings that I was avoiding.


However, with a careful regimen of medications, counselling, exercise, social activity, accommodations, and acceptance of my limits, I have found that I can still achieve well at university, and I am happy that I finally made it to postgraduate study, which I will be starting part-time next year.


Contrary to what I believed when I was diagnosed five years ago, a diagnosis is not a death sentence. It can mean a shift in expectations, though not in ambition. I am just as ambitious as I’ve ever been, but my mental health has made me re-evaluate what I can achieve on any particular day. Now I know to never put my work before my wellbeing. If an assignment is due soon, but my body is shutting down from overstimulation, then home to bed I go.


The frustration never quite goes away, but I try to quiet it with things that I enjoy, along with mindfulness. If I can’t leave my room, I might download a book or watch a movie. If I can’t bear to be around people, I might try to chat to someone on Facebook instead. Over time, I no longer identify quite so hard with my diagnoses. Everybody wrestles with demons and limitations—mine are just found in the DSM-V. Labels that describe, rather than define.


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