Addicts start off meetings by saying “I am ___ and I am an alcoholic/addict.” People with mental health diagnosis may say, “I am ___ and I have depression/bipolar.” My question is simple. If diagnoses are supposed to provide a map to understand me why must they simple reference what is hard or difficult for me to do? How accurate or complete of an understanding does that actually give another person. One of the things you are taught as a “patient” is to stop at difficulty. The difficulty you have is the person you are. Person after person who is involved with the mental health system has told me this is their biggest difficulty. One lady said it best, “My psychiatrist is truly naive. He truly believes that depression is all there is to talk about with me…He truly believes that is all there is about me. He doesnt begin to understand that even if he knows everything in the world about depression he may still not understand anything in the world about me.”
I really like the way Celebrate Recovery does it. “My name is ___. I am a believer in Jesus Christ. I struggle with issues of alcohol/drugs/depression/emotional stability/ sexual integrity…….” Are not the most important things to us the most important things about us??? Are the things we struggle with what we truly have??? If anyone understands me without understanding what is meaningful and important to me or what gives me purpose in life do they really understand me??? If you start with what is hard, even if it is really hard, then does not in practice everything become regarded as a symptom of what is hard.
As for me…My name Larry Drain. I am husband to Linda, and father to three. I am a believer in Jesus Christ. I believe life can get better regardless of how hard it is now or how long it has been hard. I believe the quality of me has a lot to do with how I see the quality of you. I struggle with many issues including depression and anxiety but also poverty and maybe most of all just simply getting older.
When I meet people with mental health diagnosis invariably the most important thing about them is not what their diagnosis tells me, but what is left unsaid or unrecognized.