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Mental Health

My Diagnosis Story

I recently was diagnosed with Acute Stress Disorder. Not officially because, legally my therapist couldn’t diagnose me. But, I was told that if she could she’d pinpoint the source of my problems on those three words. In that instant sitting in her office, I wanted to sob because I realized that for the past month my strange habits had a reason other than I was going crazy. 

I recently encountered an incident with death. I’m not going to go into it out of respect for the deceased. However, when I heard about it I felt like I was responsible. I remember when I was first told a friend asked me how I felt about the tragedy. In between tears I said, “I feel like I killed {redacted}. It’s all my fault”. Rationally it wasn’t my fault. But, sometimes your mind says something but you can’t listen to it because of your heart. I didn’t know it yet but my mental illness began with those words. 

For the next month, I kept my feelings hidden away from everyone, including myself. I was buried into my work and applauded myself for my strength. Every day that I went without crying was a victory. I would tell myself that I was okay because I wasn’t crying. How sad could I be if I wasn’t actively breaking apart? Right?  For awhile I felt pretty normal. That was until the anger had set in. Whenever something associated with the death would happen I’d freak out. Little things in that environment would become big things. I began to think that this was going to be my forever. That I was jaded because I lost a bit of my innocence.

Then something happened. I didn’t realize it at the time but, I was “triggered” by another event that sent me back to my original grief. I realized that I didn’t solve my problems by ignoring them. I just pressed pause for a little bit. I went to the wellness center for a bi-monthly visit that I scheduled since the event. I was tired of lying and acting like I was okay. It turns out that while I was convincing myself I was alright I developed a mental illness.

Acute Stress Disorder was described as the little sister of PTSD. I remember feeling oddly comforted by the image of a child terrorizing me for the past month.  Anger, paranoia, anxiety and fear were all symptoms that the counselor identified within me. As she went through my budding “personality traits” she told me that there wasn’t anything wrong with me. I just needed time to heal. 

That night I expected that I would sleep soundly. After all, I figured out what was wrong with me. I had to be fine.  As I turned on my TV (I’m much too scared to sleep in the dark now thanks to my paranoia) I thought that I would sleep soundly for the first time in ages. But that wasn’t the case. I realized that the first step was identifying what was wrong with me. The next is the day by day, hour by hour, minute by minute. I had to take time to heal.   I have a long way to go before I could get better. But, in a weird way, I’m celebrating my mental illness. It has a name now, a personification of a small child and a limited time in my life. Slowly but surely I’ll find myself to normal. But until then, I’ll be more patient with myself as I heal.


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