I’m currently reading Anxiety for beginners by Eleanor Morgan. Only about halfway through, but I like what I’ve read so far.
Back when I first started to address my mental illness issues I was very keen to see what was going on in my head through the lens of a specific diagnosis. I have this disorder or that disorder. Or maybe both at once. And there is nothing wrong with that. To be able to put a name to my experience was a huge relief.
What I’ve come to acknowledge since is that the human condition isn’t something that can always be fitted into categories, all neat and tidy. Obvious, really.
Mental illness and for that matter mental health is more fluid and messy than that. Our state of mind shifts through different phases. Anxiety comes and goes. It ebbs and flows. Morphs.
This is not to diminish formal diagnoses. I think they can be and are very helpful. But to expect a person’s mental illness to fit neatly and exclusively into this or that diagnosis is to diminish the person.
We are much more complicated and untidy than that. This is where Eleanor Morgan’s book strikes a chord. I found it validating to read her description of her own story. It emphasises how everyone’s experience is different. It’s helping me recognise that my own experience is a jumble of different parts. Yes, I can say that those parts fit the criteria of specific disorders but they also spill over into others. I feel less bothered by putting very specific names to my issues. Sometimes just calling it anxiety is enough.