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Processing a Mental Health Diagnosis

Anxiety, Therapy 101, Coping Skills
4 min read

Mental health awareness has created much needed recognition for the importance of how we take care of ourselves and our overall wellness.  Many feel more open to talk about their struggles with mental health while also seeking services and therapy. 

Yet, there is still stigma and self-judgment around receiving a diagnosis from a professional that can cause insecurities, shame and even hopelessness for some. You may find yourself asking: Why Me?  What Now? Will I ever be the same?

Not everyone will experience a mental health diagnosis the same way and it’s normal and common to feel a lot of different things all at once.  Below are some of the feelings that may come up as you process a diagnosis:

  • Relief—“I can now identify what I’ve been going through.”  
  • Hope— “I can find tools, skills, and treatments that work and gain the support I need.” 
  • Fear— “I’m afraid of what this means.” 
  • Shock/Denial— “This can't be happening.” 
  • Shame— “This is a reflection on who I am as a person.”
  • Confusion— “I don't understand what all of this means.  Where do I go from here?”
  • Anger—Why is this happening to me?”
  • Guilt— “How did I get here, this must be my fault.”
  • Grief— “My life will never be the same, will I ever feel like myself again?”
  • Loss of control— “I don’t know what to do or where to begin.”

These are common thoughts and might feel overwhelming, but support is available and you can still thrive and move forward!

As a mental health clinician and someone with a personal journey, let me tell you what you are NOT:

-You are not broken.

-You are not weak.

-You are not doomed.

-You are not less than.

-You are not resigned to suffer.

-YOU ARE NOT YOUR DIAGNOSIS.

You are a person dealing and trying to cope with your mental health.  After receiving a diagnosis, these steps may be helpful as you move forward.

-Talk to a trusted friend, partner or family member.

-Shame thrives in secrecy and can make us feel isolated and alone. We take the power away from shame by talking about it.

-Educate yourself.

-Review signs and symptoms of your diagnosis to better understand and identify what you have been experiencing. With more awareness and understanding, we can better find ways to cope. 

-Explore therapy or treatment options.

-Other people are going through a similar experience and have found beneficial and empowering ways to move forward.  Individual, group, or family therapy can help you utilize new tools and skills to improve your functioning, mood, and outlook.  

-Medications may also be available to treat biological aspects that impact the symptoms you experience.  Talking to a medical professional provides more options and resources available to you to consider. 

-Explore other aspects of your health & lifestyle.

-Our physical, mental, psychological, emotional, and spiritual health are all connected.  By making positive changes in one area will positively impact another.  


Be kind to yourself and know that we all need support at times.  These steps are just a few that may make navigating your mental health more manageable. 

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About the AuthorRodman Walsh is a California based Therapist whose specialities cover relationship issues, personality disorders, general anxiety, and more. Click here to view Rodman's profile and schedule a free introductory call.  

See Rodman in Discussion: 
- How to Support Family Struggling with Mental Health Issues
The Experience of Living with BiPolar 1 Disorder


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