In the fourth of a blog series looking at mental health within agriculture, Naomi Wright, of Therapy with Naomi, looks at how to deal with and process a diagnosis.
My last blog looked at the first steps towards seeking professional help when suffering with your mental health. Today I will offer an insight into what it might be like to receive a diagnosis and ways to manage this process.
If you decide to speak with your GP, you may go on to receive a diagnosis such as depression, post-traumatic stress disorder or an anxiety disorder. For those who do, they will probably experience a combination of emotions. Some may find that a diagnosis offers relief, clarity, reassurance and a sense that they are not alone in it. It may also remove their sense that what they are feeling and experiencing is their fault and offer them the opportunity to reflect on their experiences as separate from themselves and something to overcome. A diagnosis can also come with resources such as information and support.
The experience will not be positive for everyone though, and some may feel exposed and ashamed when receiving a diagnosis. They may be filled with feelings of fear or sadness, and overwhelmed at the concept, perhaps with a sense of being labelled or condemned in some way to a lifetime feeling the way they do. It can be an incredibly scary time and there could be anger around why it has happened to them and what it means for them. There could be confusion and disbelief, or they may disagree with their diagnosis. This could mean the diagnosis is denied or ignored.
But there will no doubt be an emotional response.
Ways to manage this:
What can those of us who are not suffering with our mental health do to help those who may be reaching out for, or receiving help?
Firstly, I want to say that you don’t need to be ill to have therapy. It isn’t just for those suffering, at rock bottom or with a diagnosis. It is for everyone, and for anyone who wants to learn more about themselves or heal in a safe place. Understanding this means we can all be advocates for mental health and reduce the stigma associated with diagnosis and services. Those with a diagnosis or without one but in therapy, may experience stigma. This will make the experience that bit more difficult. Offer them space to talk freely with you about it, without judgement or advice. Ask them how they would like you to refer to their struggles so they don’t feel labelled unfairly. Importantly, be mindful of the vocabulary you use.