Anyone who receives a diagnosis feels that everything has changed at any moment, that his yesterday is no longer the same as his today. With the power of the word, someone has marked a “before” and an “after” in their life. From that moment on, and for an unspecified period, his name will drag along a surname which, in most cases, can be very painful.
Those who receive a diagnosis usually feel as if a backpack loaded with stones has been placed on their shoulders. Not only will he have to carry that personal problem with him, but also adapt to his new surname. This burden and the difficulty of readjusting to the new situation entail an immense effort on his part.
Sometimes people feel that that diagnosis is stronger than them, that it has come to life, just like a monster that devours everything and has devoured them too. They may even feel alien to themselves, their body, their personality and their whole being.
Living with a diagnosis
Becoming aware of this new reality and the changes it entails is not an easy task. At the beginning the word overlaps the person, creating a reality that, even if in one way or another it was already there before they mentioned it, has now come to life and sneaked into our existence without anyone having invited it. .
When you find yourself face to face with that monster, alone, only you can decide whether to embrace it and learn to live with it or live fighting a battle that will leave indelible wounds. The responsibility of choosing what to do in the face of this new situation is yours alone.
Living with the word and being fully aware of its meaning is difficult and takes time. Whether you like it or not, in that moment the label is there, it accompanies you for that little bit of life and you have to learn to live with it.
Everything changes, but nothing changes
The effect of the diagnosis on a person is like that of the seasons on vegetation. Just like in a forest, which undergoes the changes brought about by the seasons as the months pass, even if the flowers and trees change color, the roots will continue to remain anchored to the same earth.
Sometimes the person may feel that the earth and the trees are no longer the same. But, with the passage of time, the leaves change color, fall and new ones are born; that same tree could stay there forever or be cut down and disappear. Yet, despite all the changes that occur on the surface, there is something that remains unchanged: and that is the fact that there must always be a land where vegetation can take root.
What happens to the forest also happens to people. That word changes the person, but it doesn’t change him. There is a part, a period of life, which will be different from the rest; but, despite everything, there is a deeper layer that will not change and that will remain there forever.
A diagnosis is NOT an adjective
Sometimes the diagnosis can overshadow the person, causing herself and those around her to define her exclusively with that label. For example, you often hear phrases such as “he is bipolar”, “he is depressed” or “he is schizophrenic”. These phrases are not only misused, they also feed one of the great problems of mental illness: stigma.
Diagnoses are often used as adjectives, as if it were an immutable characteristic of the person. But a diagnosis is NOT an adjective: a person is not bipolar, depressed or anorexic. People are not just diagnoses, labels or words.
A person is what he is, with his personal and unique characteristics. It is possible that in a given period she may have a certain disorder or disease, but that does not mean that she has turned into that disease or that she is no longer herself.
Behind the word, there is a unique face in the world
The diagnosis will always be attached to a face. We must not forget that a diagnosis is only a set of symptoms that tell us about the disease and not about the person. It gives us general information about what is happening to someone with that disorder, but it doesn’t tell us anything about him or her.
While there may be similarities, every human being is unique. We all have a name, a personality, a family, tastes, quirks and special characteristics that distinguish us from others . A diagnosis will never give us information about these particularities of a person, which we have to discover little by little.
A well-used diagnosis is important, because it tells us something about the person who is suffering from a certain problem and conveys very useful information on a professional level, but on its own it is never enough. We must not forget that behind a label there is always a unique and inimitable face, a person who feels and who is much more than just a word.