A post by our Project Assistant, Marie.
I recently had a diagnosis of an unusual type of migraine. After weeks of strange symptoms, pain, inconvenience, misdiagnosis and worry, I was so relieved to have an answer and a way forward. I was straight on the phone to some family and friends sharing my happiness about fantastic new medication, as well as gratitude for the compassionate doctor who finally took me seriously. I even took to social media to seek out others who had experience of the condition to ask for advice and insights!
Four years ago I had a very similar medical experience. Again, after years of strange symptoms, pain, inconvenience, misdiagnosis and worry, I was so relieved to have an answer and a way forward. However, this time my diagnosis was from a psychiatrist and I was told that my symptoms were due to Bipolar II and severe Generalised Anxiety Disorder. I felt immense joy and relief to finally have my experiences validated and understood. It was one of the happiest days of my life, yet I stayed silent about it – I was so worried about what kind of response I would get from others. Four years later, it’s still something I hide most of the time. It didn’t once occur to me I would be judged for migraine pills, yet I never mention my Bipolar medication outside of my own home (despite the fact it has significantly improved my quality of life).
Over the years, I’ve found that one of the worst things about mental health stigma is not just feeling that I have to hide the difficult parts but that , in doing so, I don’t get to share my moments of progress and achievement. As well as not being able to get help with problems, I also don’t have the opportunity to say “I found a less stressful job to help my mental health”, “I paid off the debt I ran up when I was manic” or “I had a shower after being depressed all week”. Yet if I got a promotion at work, bought a house or got the all clear from a physical health issue would I think twice about letting people know?
Just because something isn’t deemed as ‘good news’ by society’s standards, doesn’t mean it isn’t worth celebrating. In fact, I think being able to share my small daily mental health ‘wins’ would actually help my recovery, whilst secrecy just makes it worse. I’d love to hear what you’d like to celebrate when it comes to mental health recovery – get in touch with Mind Waves to share your own positive news, no matter how big or small!