In the past week, I have read two very disheartening blog posts about mental illness. They were both very similar in context; one being about self diagnosis being inaccurate method to use and the other saying how mental illness is just made up for attention. I was not originally going to make this a blog post, but I figured if I was going to write a novel about something I’m passionate about, I might as well make it into a post.
First off with this article, it is titled “Stop Whoring Out Your ‘Mental Illness.’ It’s unsettling to me because it comes off as overly aggressive and also because I refrain from using any word pertaining negatively to a woman’s sex life (I’m not perfect, I slip up, but it’s something that I’ve been working on for the last couple years.) But besides the unnecessary use of the word whore, this article was outright aggressive before I even opened the link to read it.
Secondly, this article talks a whole lot but really has no point at all. The article talks a whole lot about doctors. It talks about claiming you have a mental illness and then seeking support from your family and friends. Let me tell you a little story:
I was depressed since fourteen. At sixteen (after two years of self diagnosing) I finally saw a therapist who diagnosed me with (surprise!) a depressive disorder. By the way, my therapist is a Licensed MSW (Master of Social Work) so she isn’t a doctor. In the situation where you can ONLY be diagnosed by a doctor (as this article suggests), does my own self diagnosed confirmed by a professional who is not a doctor not matter? Of course not. It completely matters. Just like my two years of me diagnosing myself.
I didn’t choose to go undiagnosed for so long, but it was because of my situation that I could not. It was because of the STIGMA associated with Mental Illness that I chose not to discuss my health with anyone, even after I was diagnosed. So how did I know I had depression? I thoroughly (and I still do) researched about it. You are out of your mind if a scared little fifteen year old girl doesn’t google “Why do I want to hurt myself?” from time to time.
The first paragraph of this one is, “These are the signs that, even if you do struggle with some anxiety/depression/whatever, you are exaggerating a decent part of it for all the attention (and the excuses) that it provides you.”
I often wonder what it’s like to not be mentally ill and then instantly regret it. I have a feeling that this article, as well as the first, would be a good summary of being mentally perfect. Do these people show no empathy? No, they don’t. Because in order to show empathy you must be able to try to put yourself in other people’s situations and shoes. Them being put into my, someone who is mentally ill, shoes is them seeing the opportunity to whine and complain and to give out excuses.
Let’s bring both articles together now:
The stigma of mental illness is horrible. It is absolutely horrible and I wish it didn’t exist. These two articles truly embody the stigma. It is one thing that has made me truly terrified of opening up to others about my health.
You don’t know stigma until you are having a panic attack in your high school’s bathroom but you can’t go home because you are just “overreacting” that you’ll have to “grow up because you can’t cry whenever something goes wrong in the real world” that you “have to be an adult.” You don’t know stigma until the same person comforting you all day calls your Mother to tell them that they think I read too much on depression that I “convinced myself I have it.” You don’t know stigma until you’re suicidal knowing that you need to get medicated but fearing that the doctors won’t help or will judge you. And most of them did just that.
All of those are reasons why I won’t get help when I know I should. All of those are reasons why I am so terrified to open up to people about my mental health unless I know I have their support 110%. I have been the butt of the joke for too long with my mental health and I refuse to be it anymore.
So, yeah, I think it’s safe to say that stigma can be a pretty large part on why you would ever Self Diagnose yourself.
I also think that it is safe to say that the reason us who are mentally ill are so hesitant to seek help for our illnesses are hesitant because there are people out there just like these two people who wrote the articles. Only alive and in the flesh instead of hiding behind a computer screen.
I will continue to promote my mental health as well as mental health as a whole until something in our society changes. I am not doing it for attention. I am not ashamed of it. I am not complaining about it. I am here to educate and support others.
I feel for those teenagers who are Self Diagnosing because that’s who I was for a long time. I feel for those who don’t open up because they are scared because I am nearly an adult now and I am still terrified. I feel for those who are just looking for something to describe what they are feeling.
Most importantly, I feel for those who don’t understand mental illness. I feel for them because they lack empathy. I feel for them because mental illness is more common they think and they will be touched with it one way or another. Read a book. Talk to your doctor. Talk to someone who is suffering. Because you will learn a lot more about mental illness that way rather than bitching about it.
(You can find the articles in the links appearing throughout this post. Because God Forbid I get accused of plagiarism by stealing one of their pathetic ideas about mental illness.)