Developing a Diagnosis Dictionary

Last week I wrote about how SMD mad I was about being classified as something.  Ticked off by someone else who would doom me to no WOman’s mental illness land and I would cry uncontrollably, deteriorate significantly, and require care in a padded room for eternity as is the life of I dunno, severely sick anything.  And for a long time, I got cross about that.  I got to cross that my future, my life, my children’s lives, were determined by less than a 15-minute consultation where someone says oh, I dunno, your brain is going to die soon.  Because that’s how it feels.  Either it’s going to die, or you are going to need a brain transplant (don’t know or think this is recommended).  But as last week’s blog pointed out, after you’ve been ticked as loony, over the hill, whatever, well there aren’t really excellent places to go, other than the candy dispenser at the psych hospital or my personal favorite – the smoking balcony at 2 am in the morning – to keep the nurses on their toes.

So I’ve decided to do something different – and I hope that you will help me.  I want to re-write the dictionary that makes us people with mental illness what we are.  The list of symptoms and synonyms that are used to prescribe and prognosis – what is “wrong” with us.  Heck, I am even prepared to write a more politically correct set of stereotypes, so at least we can be nicknamed more appropriately.  Yes.  It’s like my own mother says I have multiple personality disorder when I don’t.  Gees.  Don’t get the stigma confused!   If you are going to insult me, please use the correctly developed, politically appropriate names people with mental illness allow.

No, I haven’t taken my meds for the longest time – but I want a different set of criteria, analysis and engagement to inform the meds I can and should take, different therapies that work, and the truth about the stuff that doesn’t work.  About the pretty things and the ugly things that families that people with mental illness don’t know about and need to be prepared for.  For example, I always tell my littlest daughter to have a bubble around her heart – and I say this because I’m known to be irritable and snap quickly, even when I really don’t mean to.  Especially not with her.  But it happens, and although I say sorry, perhaps by describing our dictionary more clearly,   by preparing them and us, through the heart-est won experience, we and ours can be ready to face the world with the reality we seek to bring about.   And while that littlest daughter and I love unicorns the most that is not the reality I’m talking about.

For example, I think my first listing would be Ashtma Inducing Anxiety.  This is the kind where you feel your chest close, and you hyperventilate, and you feel like your stomach is a washing machine twisting your guts clothing inside out,  and you may squidge out a nervous fart or two as you calm / a cough yourself down.  Yes, similar indeed.  I am serious, and I am dedicated to building a new future for people with mental illness. I am not a disorder, I am not a description, I am not the only diagnosis and getting it wrong could result really, in another kind of dead, neither you or I want to see.  Help me.  Be part of those who support us as opposed to those who don’t.  I am 4M’s Bipolar Mom.

Photo Credit: Romain Vignes

11 thoughts on “Developing a Diagnosis Dictionary

  1. I like your post, I agree with so much. What you’re talking about is written about in a nice fashion in the book Two Bipolar Chicks: Guide To Survival, by Wendy K. Williamson & Honora Rose.
    It is going to take continued work for all of us to make important strides in criteria, analysis and engagement. I am hoping to do just that with a podcast I started a couple weeks ago, Mindful Bipolar. And on my blog, I’m still learning with each post I write and when I talk into the microphone, when people like you comment and give feedback.

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  2. Pingback: Developing a Diagnosis Dictionary — The Bipolar Writer Mental Health Blog -

  3. I understand. Looking back at my hospital records, there was a steady increase of labels and speculative assumptions added to my file. Over those years, I began to believe I was those labels, and at times I think I acted out because of it. What I really believe? We are all human. That is the only word that truly matters. How did all those labels serve me? They didn’t serve me at all, they served the medical community as a guide to helping them understand and help me. I wasn’t ready to use that particular guide. I was willful, and I knew it, and I see now that I wasn’t safe enough in the real world (I didn’t feel safe enough) to be able to work on my illness. And then I was diagnosed with OCD, and laughed uproariously because it is the least scary word of all – and at this point I feel like a circus act of sorts. Only this diagnosis, this label was different. It was different because I WAS READY. Ready and willing to see it as a guidebook with chapters and worksheets and a logical, interpretable methodology I could follow every day. Well, given that OCD has more structured therapy than the other stuff, it made sense.

    The point is, labels serve to give us a guide to follow. We don’t hold onto those labels, we just use them as a tool. Next time your doctor wants to label you, understand it may be for his/her purpose, and if not, ask for a label that will serve you in the space you are right now. If you create a label for yourself, give it a purpose. Create a label that includes steps for recovery that you can easily interpret. In the end, the only word that really matters is that we are human.

    PS. I personally created my own “syndrome” – Sarcastic Impulsivity Syndrome (SIS) – and would forewarn doctors that response time may be bitter and quick.

    Liked by 1 person

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