For many people, a diagnosis of a mental health disorder, like ADHD, depression, anxiety, bipolar, fibromyalgia or chronic fatigue syndrome is  viewed as a label and is attached with a lot of stigma and fear.

What if we change the perspective or the meaning associated with a diagnosis?

I offer this metaphor:

You’re driving towards a tunnel.  It’s a beautiful day and you’re having a lovely drive.  You enter the tunnel without a worry in the world.  By the time that you come out of the tunnel, you’re a mess.  There are scratches everywhere, you’re angry, and you’re confused.  What just happened?  It was too dark in the tunnel to see anything.  You feel like you were just beaten up.

You decide to carry on, and shake it off.  Back to life you go.

A few days or weeks later, you’re driving on the road, towards another tunnel.  Feeling good and positive, you go through the tunnel.  Same thing happens though.  Something in the tunnel caused your car to get all wrecked and you are furious.  What happened?

You start asking other people if it happens to them?  They look at you like you’re crazy.  What do you mean ‘something’ is in the tunnel?  There’s nothing there.

Now you’re feeling confused and embarrassed.  Maybe it was just my imagination.  Maybe it is ‘all in my head’.  I’ll go through another tunnel and it will be fine.

But again, you experience this ‘something’ in a very real way.  There are visible scratches on your car and you’re pretty shaken up.  But no one else gets it.  They don’t get why things change ‘only for you’ in the tunnel.

To make matters worse, they are getting frustrated with you.  Every time that you crash, you need their help.  You need financial aid to fix your car, you need rides while the car is being fixed, and worst of all, sometimes you are not the only one who gets hurt.

So finally you take your car to a new mechanic and he says, “Of course you’re crashing.  You don’t have lights.”  Huh.

The diagnosis of not having lights explains everything.  You didn’t know that other people could see in the tunnel and they never thought to ask if you had lights because “everybody has lights”.  Finally, your diagnosis explains everything.

Now there are two ways to handle things.

Check back next week to see what they are 😉



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