A diagnosis of exclusion is defined as: a diagnosis of a medical condition reached by a process of elimination. Many doctors often turn to a diagnosis of exclusion if a diagnosis can’t be made for sure based on the patients medical history, presenting symptoms, and test results. So in return they tell you, “It’s just anxiety”.
I mean, of course I have anxiety, I’m battling like 4 autoimmune diseases, I take medication every single day, and every morning when I wake up, I don’t know if I will physically feel ok or not. The point is, I know my body and I know when something is wrong.
Anxiety is a huge deal, so to say that it’s just anxiety is kind of offensive to those that actually do have to live through it. I don’t like to tell people this, but I will because I know others can relate, but on my medical record it states that I have an anxiety problem. I don’t know how much more rude they can put that, but I don’t have a “problem”. Anxiety, depression, hypochondria, and the “it’s all in your head” speech are so much easier to diagnose people with than digging deeper and finding the actual issue. The reason I am pointing this out is because I have been depressed before, I do have anxiety and sometimes I do worry about my future and if I will be ok, but that is NOT the reason I am experiencing strange symptoms.
I have experienced the “it’s all in your head” accusation not only once, but at least 10 times. And then they pull the “we understand what you’re going through” nonsense once they know what it is…my response is always, well if you knew what I was going through, you wouldn’t be telling me it’s just anxiety and that it’s all in my head.
At age 15 I started to have symptoms of arthritis, myasthenia gravis and gastroparesis. What teenager should have to go through that, or anything health related for that matter? I presented with symptoms of weakness, joint pain, vomiting everything I ate and so much more…how could anyone actually make that up? So now I am in the process of being diagnosed with yet another autoimmune issue and once again, I am stuck with “it’s just anxiety”. I try so hard to tell my story, yet some doctors still don’t at least try to understand. Let me say it again, at age 15 I had a long list of symptoms and for 3 years I went undiagnosed and knew something more was wrong.
I hate to say this, but it’s amazing that I am still here.
I wouldn’t wish the feelings that I had at the time on anyone. Of course it’s devastating to know that I have to live with this stuff but I can get through that. I struggle with physical symptoms and side effects every single day from the medications that I take, but the biggest struggle that I face comes from within.
A lot of people ask me questions about how I am ok with living with all of this? The truth is, I’m not. But I have to learn to be, because I am going to have these medical conditions for the rest of my life. How do I stay positive when I am up against something that I can’t change? What will my future be like? Will I develop more autoimmune diseases? Will anyone love me despite what I go through? Am I good enough? Who is actually going to be there for me when times are hard? These are just a few of the mental struggles that I face daily. I don’t want people to feel sorry for me. I don’t want people to think I want attention. I don’t expect people to know how I feel or what I am going through. I just want people to believe me.
Seven years ago when I started having issues with weakness and no one was convinced that anything was wrong, I isolated myself, I was depressed and actually thought I was losing my mind. This was all because doctors, psychologists, and psychiatrists told me these things. I didn’t stand up for myself and that was the real issue. That is what I have learned this time around, if you think something is wrong, don’t accept “it’s all in your head”. Push for testing and get it figured out. You want to know why? Because so far, 4 out of 4 times, my gut feeling was right and something was wrong.
Mental illness is exhausting and changes your life, and it’s thrown around too much. If one doctor doesn’t believe you, get second and third opinions. I have come to realize that most doctors work in black and white and aren’t exactly there to tend to your feelings, but a little empathizing goes a long way. Don’t be afraid of asking a billion questions, and most importantly, learn to not care what people think. You are worthy of the right diagnosis and proper treatment. So, don’t stop until you get that.