May is Mental Health Awareness Month. In honour of that, I wanted to share our family’s diagnosis’ and why I believe getting a mental health diagnosis is important.
I was diagnosed with Depression at the age of 16 and Anxiety as well as OCD at 30. My husband is undiagnosed with ADHD. My youngest son was diagnosed with ADHD at the age of 3. My oldest son has no official doctor’s diagnosis but does have executive dysfunction as learned through his psychoeducational assessment.
As previously mentioned we have gone on quite the journey to have our youngest son finally diagnosed with Autism at the age of 11.
When I spoke to my family doctor about getting the official Autism diagnosis his question to me was “Why do you want a label?”. The question really bothered me when he asked it and still bothers me every time I recall him asking me that. Which is why I write this blog post.
Mental Health Diagnosis: Why should you get one?
When I was asked this question by my doctor and after recovering from my shock of being asked this I told him that labels open doors for support.
Having a mental health diagnosis first and foremost, in my opinion, assures you that you are not “crazy”, “abnormal”, “strange” or that something is wrong with you.
Having a mental health diagnosis allows you to be prescribed medication to make your life easier. Before being diagnosed with Anxiety I had gotten so bad that I could no longer leave my home.
A mental health diagnosis allows you to learn how to function and get things done. With my youngest son’s Autism diagnosis, we have learned he needs step-by-step charts around the house for daily tasks. His brain goes into overload when he is given too big a project or too many steps at once.
Though he does not have an official mental health diagnosis knowing my husband has ADHD has allowed our marriage to thrive by understanding how the ADHD brain works. What others may consider nagging is me reminding my husband what he needs to do or writing down everything he must do so that is gets done. It is not his fault that he will not remember what he needs to do. We also set alarms to remind him to get tasks done.
With my oldest son having executive dysfunction it has allowed an IEP to be put in place at school. He struggled prior to learning this and has since thrived in school and is making honour roll every semester.
These are why I like “labels” and why if you think there is a “label” that will help you, you should see a doctor and get that mental health diagnosis.
What are Mental Health Illnesses?
Mental illnesses are medical conditions that can affect many parts of a person’s life, such as:
- Thought processes
- Sense of self
- Capacity to connect with others
- Ability to cope with stress
Common Mental Illnesses
- Anxiety Disorders
- Bipolar Disorder
- Eating Disorders
- Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)
Different Affects of Mental Illnesses
There is no one cause for mental health challenges. Some have sporadic periods of illness, while others remain consistently unwell. Triggers can cause some instances of mental illness, such as depression after a traumatic event. However, some people experience depression without having any specific triggering event. Additionally, some people have one depressive episode, while others have multiple.
People who have mental illnesses may sometimes face challenges, such as:
- Processing information
- Making choices
They may also begin behaving in non-typical ways, for example, distancing themselves from others.
Source: Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act – Mental Health Awareness Month
Understanding Mental Health
Courtesy of Canadian Mental Health Association.
Getting Mental Health Help
The first steps may be the toughest, but knowing where to look for help is a good start. Here are good places to begin building your team:
- Talk with supportive friends and family. Share your feelings with them and let them be part of your team.
- Talk to your family doctor. They are a great resource and can link you to other professionals, if needed.
- Connect with community mental health clinics or organizations like the Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA) for information, support, and services.
- Call a help line. Some organizations also offer support online or through text messaging.
- Learn more about mental health. You can find useful books, websites, and other resources through your provincial or territorial government and community agencies.
- Connect with others who have personal experience with a mental illness and learn more about their recovery journey.
- Attend workshops and education sessions hosted at community centres, agencies, schools, colleges or universities.
- Talk with a member or leader you trust from your faith or cultural group.
For more information visit Canadian Mental Health Association.
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