Mental Illness Diagnosis: A Learning Opportunity

A mental illness diagnosis is a description of the behaviour(s) and trait(s) you are using to manage your life such that you or someone else is in significant discomfort or distress. If the beavhour(s) and/or trait(s) change to reduce said discomfort/distress to negligible amounts, the diagnosis can be removed. You heal.
Mental illness diagnoses are not given to people who have alternative behaviour traits that make life awesome. Only the opposite. Being different and unique is not a symptom of mental illness, just the discomfort and distress caused by poor behaviours and traits are.
It is quite possible to change the way you behave. Behaviour is a learned thing. We learn new skills all of the time. Some behaviours are due to ill fitting reactions to stimuli. These can be re-learned to be different. Instead of having to act in a certain way to a presented stimuli (life event), we can learn to act in a different way. Our emotional reaction is separated from our chosen physical action. Given some practice, our emotional reaction will adjust to our new survival methods.
No two brains are the same, although many fall within the definition of “neruo-typical”. Each person has their own subtly different way of doing things. Consider how many different ways people make 2-minute noodles. Ask around, you’ll find a whole host of answers (mine is the best, by the way). No solution is definitively wrong (unless it explodes or kills someone). You can make 2-minute noodles on the stove, in the microwave, out camping, using a solar oven, eat them raw… all depending on personal preference and current access to equipment. Similarly, the way we chose to act to life events will be different and unique. Sometimes we need to learn better ways. Doing things differently to me doesn’t mean you are wrong, just different. Wrong is not measured as different, it is measured by the amount of discomfort and distress it causes. Even then, it isn’t wrong, there is just better available.
That brings us to “right”. Right ways (note the plural) are ways that progress you with minimal discomfort and distress. Substituting a poor solution with a better one doesn’t make you faulty, wrong or ill. It means you have learned, evolved and grown. There is nothing wrong with that. Every time we learn, we evolve and grow. That’s the point of life. If you stayed the same as when you were born, you certainly wouldn’t be reading this!
A solution is right when it is good enough. Perfect is nice, but it isn’t needed (and perfect doesn’t actually exist anyway). Good enough is when your solution works for you and your group (family, friends, society etc). A behaviour that works just for me at the expense of others is less good when compared to one that works for me and others. Once I have learned a behaviour, or preferably heuristic (rules that mostly work most of the time so it isn’t one solution for one problem, but a way of solving life problems with good enough solutions), that is good enough, I need to keep at it.
We are frequently tempted to view a behaviour that leads to discomfort and distress as an indication of a fault within ourselves. This is natural but faulty. Any skill you develop will include failure. The failures as you learn don’t mean you are a failure, it means you are learning. If you are learning, then you are awesome. So don’t stop because you are afraid to make a mistake. Heck, if you’ve received a mental illness diagnosis, it just means you have some specific learning to do to grow to change that diagnosis.
You aren’t alone in your learning journey. Sometimes a teacher or guide is helpful, sometimes gaining some education, and or sometimes some medication can help. If you are stuck, get some help.
So work out what you need to learn and go out and learn it!