Some people hate giving and receiving diagnoses. They feel like it’s a label, a jar to be squeezed into. It’s also a kind of prediction, which can easily turn into a self-fulfilling prophecy. How should I react to this? Well, how do people like me react?
A diagnosis can be half-assed, to be sure. I’ve been handed labels that felt like they were just stuck on everyone who walked in the door. I’ve been summarized in quick, easy ways that said nothing about my inner world. And when treatments stem from these misunderstandings, they can be ineffective or harmful.
Yet here’s what happened when my therapist started talking about AvPD: it felt like someone understood what I had been telling them. It felt like there was a name for the creature in my chest, and things that can be named can be discussed, they can be seen, they can be dealt with. Perhaps most importantly of all, it meant that I’m not the only person who ever feels like this.
I still have the same concerns about being lost in this. I don’t want to be reduced to a phrase. I don’t ever want to feel justified in acting badly, or obligated to respond a certain way because of “who I am.” But I can acknowledge these issues and work to avoid them. I can see, and name, and discuss.
I’m still torn on the idea of diagnoses. I still don’t know if they are necessary or always a good idea. But I know that having one has made some things a little easier.