Thursday, 10 September 2015

The Stigma of Multiple Diagnosis - A guest blog by Sophie Dishman | 'Ad'

First of all, thank you to Aimee for letting me write this blog post as a guest post on her blog!

Secondly, I should probably introduce myself, Im Sophie. And I have two mental health diagnosis. I have anxiety, both health anxiety (hypochondria) and social anxiety and OCD (obsessive compulsive disorder). Mental health problems have an unfathomable amount of stigma, dating back to the mental asylums from the past. Its shocking that in todays modern society, the stigma around mental health problems still exists.

Having one mental health problem to contend with is enough, but having two is harder. My health and social anxiety come into one diagnosis of anxiety, if you are wondering why Im not saying three diagnosis .

The stigma surrounding any mental health problem is inevitably large. People are labelled as crazy, nuts and crackers. We arent any of those things. We are human beings. We are people just like everyone else. We have mental health problems is all.

I think the stigma comes from the Victorian age, where people were locked up because of their mental state. Women were locked up for giving birth out of wedlock, homosexual people were put into institutions and some physical health problems such as epilepsy were classified as a mental health problem. People did not split the physical body from the mind. Today, we do. Mental health is shown in a different light to that of physical health. We can now see the distinction between epilepsy, as being a neurological problems. We can now see that homosexuality is a norm in society (although some would contest this) and are now more accepting of women giving birth out of wedlock. But yet, however much this has changed, people with mental health problems still face stigmatisation.

Anxiety is talked about as someone who worries a lot. Indeed a person would be correct for thinking this but there is something more to it. Its excessive worrying that takes over your day to day life. Health anxiety faces a big challenge as its also more commonly known as hypochondria. I was called a hypochondriac throughout my childhood and I guess the name has stuck with me as a formal diagnosis. It has been used against me, by way of a joke and to jibe at me. Its funny to some people.

Then there is the social anxiety. This one is not as big of a problem as my health anxiety 
but it is just as difficult. I may come across as confident, but inside Im shaking, Im nervous. Thinking things will go wrong. I get labelled as the nervous one, the one who is uncomfortable in situations where there are lots of people. It isnt easy being in a crowd of people. I dont know what to do or where to put myself. Its been hinted at that I may have some form of autism. 

Last but not least we have OCD. It brings with it the stigma of so you clean lots then?. OCD doesnt just include cleaning things. Its behaviours. Its the thoughts that occur. The obsessive part is the thoughts. They pop into your head. The compulsive part is the action. What you do to combat the behaviour. It gets tedious explaining things to people. I sanitise. I still have some rituals but Im getting better.

Explaining to people that I have two mental health diagnosis is difficult. You get told that you are twice as bad by society. That two mental health problems have polluted your mind. Yes, someone actually said that to me. Anxiety and OCD are probably two of the most recognised mental health problems, but they still carry the weight of the world in terms of stigma. All mental health problems are the same in terms of severity because no-one wants to have a mental health problem, let alone two!

I hope that by reading this, you have some more understanding of multiple mental health diagnosis. If you want to follow more of my mental health journey then follow my blog: You can also follow me on Twitter: @SophieMJSYPE