"I've Been Diagnosed With a Mental Illness, I'm Angry!"

July 26, 2012 Natalie Jeanne Champagne

When you are first diagnosed with a mental illness, your life screeches to a halt--whether it has been moving too quickly or not fast enough, everything suddenly changes. Everything.

Reactions After The Diagnosis of Mental Illness

This post is going to focus on anger but I think it's crucial to discuss other emotions and reactions such as:

>Fear. Mental Illness is scary. At first, it's uncharted territory.

>Shame. It's normal to fear that people won't understand or accept your illness. At this point, first diagnosed, you probably have no idea how you will accept it.

>Stress and anxiety. Any life change causes this reaction, but a large one with serious implications causes a great deal more.

>Confusion! I probably do not need to explain this in detail. When you are diagnosed with a mental illness your life, as you knew it, is much different. Black and white. It is confusing and it dominates your life.

And finally, the topic of this blog, Anger.

Reacting to The Diagnosis of Mental Illness With Anger

Is normal. Yes, absolutely normal! Great, right? Not really. Put it in perspective: You suddenly need to take medication that has side-effects, you need to practice this weird thing called "self-care" and stop isolating yourself. Stop pushing people away.

Why is anger such a dominate reaction? Well, think about it: You feel as though you are somebody else now, someone with a label that carries stigma, someone with an incurable illness.

When I was first diagnosed, I was angry. I was so angry I threw things and swore at people. I flipped over the furniture in the hospital I was in. Granted I was twelve years old and not ready for such a heavy diagnosis, but I was as angry as I had ever been. I would have spit flames and threw molten shards of glass if I could have. I do recall throwing a few coffee mugs...

Of course it's going to piss you off, if it does not, you probably reside in a small minority of people. And raise your hand if you. Share your innate wisdom. Ahem. Moving on...

"How Can I Work Through the Anger?"

>Acceptance! I think I talk about acceptance more than anything else in this blog and that's because it's important. It is imperative to our success. We need to learn to accept our diagnosis before we can begin to recover. Before we can work through the anger.

>Remember that you are not alone. There is a reason so many people have a degree in psychiatry! We are not alone in our struggle. For as many specialists in the field of mental health there are many more people diagnosed.

>Understand that anger is normal. It's healthy. It is part of our recovery.

>Seek help. It's hard to recover on our own and harder still to work through the emotions associated with the diagnosis of mental illness. A therapist will work with you to understand why you are angry.

The list goes on; It is a complicated topic. It is a complicated feeling but it is appropriate to the situation. The diagnosis of mental illness leaves a lot to be desired and becoming angry is healthy--to a degree.

It is important to recognize a healthy level of anger and a feeling that things might be spinning out of control. Take personal inventory, ask those you love, and remember that you are not alone, mental illness is an emotional roller-coaster and sometimes we just need to hang on!

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APA Reference
Jeanne, N. (2012, July 26). "I've Been Diagnosed With a Mental Illness, I'm Angry!", HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, June 22 from

Author: Natalie Jeanne Champagne

October, 24 2014 at 12:48 pm

When my therapist involuntarily committed me to a Behavioral Health facility-I was stunned - numb - and full of shame. And, was I angry? I was so full of anger (I wanted to punch something) and refused to participate in any activities that addressed my mental illness. I look back now and realize she saved my life. But, I still feel anger that I am mentally ill - I believe it comes from, in part, feeling full of shame. I am working on acceptance.

July, 26 2012 at 7:55 am

When I was first diagnosed, I was relieved to know what was wrong and that it had a name, bipolar 2. I didn't freak out until my current psychiatrist (who I'm very confident with) diagnosed me a bipolar 1. My mom was an undiagnosed bipolar 1 and the last thing I wanted was to be like her (painting the house in four days with a 4" brush and two coats among other actions). I really had to make myself understand that I was my own person and not my mother. It took awhile, but I am at peace with that diagnosis.

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