The DSM-5 is a symbol to me of how far we have come in understanding, diagnosing, and treating mental health conditions—in my lifetime!
A Surprising Gift
Toilet paper has many uses—but for wrapping gifts? Yes, my
dear youngest child, a twenty-nine-year-old bachelor son, had used toilet paper
to wrap the Father’s Day and birthday gift to me from him and his brothers and
They had pooled their money to get something nice for these
two special days that are usually celebrated together each year. Maybe if “the
best things come in small packages,” they also come in poorly wrapped packages!
Anyway, my kids gave me a copy of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual
of Mental Disorders,
Fifth Edition, or DSM-5.
I love it! I’ve referred to the public library’s copy, but
I’ve wanted my own since it came out in 2013. A copy can be pretty expensive to
buy, but my astute son found it used but “like new” online.
The Special Meaning of the DSM-5
I am fond of this book not just for the information I can
read in it; there are also special meanings.
A Personal Epiphany
About 10 years ago, my wonderful psychotherapist pulled the DSM-IV off his bookshelf during one of our sessions. He was exasperated with my slowness in understanding that the negative messages about my self-worth I received during my teen years were more about the people giving them than they were about me.
Finally, in desperation, he began reading the symptoms of a disorder that he surmised from our discussions that one of these individuals lived with. It was a poignant moment for me. A major epiphany followed that was key to my recovery.
Key to Self-Understanding
Further, the book reminds me of the NAMI peer-to-peer classes I took and then taught for a few years. The class manuals were built primarily on information in the DSM.
These classes have been another major part of my path to recovery. The class materials have helped me understand myself and my depression and anxiety much better. Individuals I met in those classes have become dear friends. We’ve helped each other to better cope and maintain hope.
Symbol of Progress in Mental Health Treatment
Finally, the DSM-5 is a symbol to me of how far understanding, diagnosing, and treating mental illness has come—in my lifetime!
In my family tree are individuals who had to deal with mental illness without all the benefits I’ve had.
One relative lived a significant part of her life in the Utah State Hospital back when individuals living with serious mental illness were “warehoused” more than treated.
Another dealt with major depression by living as if nothing were wrong and just working hard all the time—a tough way to have to live.
By contrast, I’ve received psychotherapy; I take psychotropic medications; I benefit from support groups; and I have many other resources available to me. How blessed I am!
So yes, my copy of DSM-5 means a lot to me—even if it’s just paper and came to me wrapped in another kind of paper.
Originally posted June 21, 2016