Unfounded Diagnoses & Mental Health.
Have you ever been on a roller coaster? You must have heard of the simile comparing life to a roller coaster. Both of them have their ups and downs and both cost a surprisingly large amount of money. One main thing that they differ on is what it feels like to have ups and downs in the two. When you are on a low in the roller coaster you have the rush of adrenaline pumping though those vessels of yours. The air comes rushing at your face and almost takes the skin off. A low in the roller coaster is what would be a high in life.
The opposite is true as well. When we go up a roller coaster, it is slow. You almost wish why a high had to come because it puts a pause on the fun. What most of us don’t realise is that sometimes there has to be a low in life so that we can truly enjoy the highs. The fun has to be stopped for a while so that space can be made for more fun.
We all have our lows in life. Some lows are much lower than others. Something which is very prevalent in the modern youth is that we are often quick to term our lows as depression. A low is depression, arranging books and being organized is OCD and having mood swings is being Bipolar. Something which is depression for someone may be a routine for someone else. This leads to a need for some standard criteria to diagnose mental illnesses. This standard is regularly revised and the latest one is called DSM-V.
I often hear stories of people saying how they beat depression and made it through. Earlier it made me really glad that people had been going through what I had and they made it through as well. Slowly, I realised that their and my definition of depression was very different. For me, people should say they were/are/have been depressed only when diagnosed by a psychiatrist.
I am not trying to undermine the people who have faced hard times in life and then overcome them. I appreciate the struggles they have faced and how much courage it takes to fight them. What I am trying to say is that you don’t need to label your struggles as depression to make them mean something. Your struggles are valid irrespective of what the label is. You don’t need to use an incorrect term for them.
How they are detrimental.
When I had depression, it took me a long time to realise that I had the issue of anxiety as well. I always considered it a part of my depression but it took me almost 2 years to be told that the two issues were different. Once I knew what I was fighting, it became just the slightest bit easier to fight it. This is known as co-morbidity. When we suffer from multiple issues but for the uninitiated, it would only seem like one disease. There might also be an underlying cause of the issues you have. It is something you can’t find out for yourself easily.
There is another aspect at play here. Have you ever looked up your symptoms on the Internet?
“All the symptoms are entered, now we wait to see what problem we have because who needs doctors when we have the Internet?”
“Alright, WebMD says my infected left testicle is due to a brain tumour. They are suggesting I get my right little finger amputated. Problems solved. No issues.”
This is a phenomenon called as being cyberchondriac. The net throws the most unlikely disease on the same page as the most likely ad we always assume the worst. This happens in mental illnesses as well. You read the symptoms of any disorder or syndrome and you immediately relate to every one of them. One day you are fine and the next you are suffering from schizophrenic, depressive, obsessive mentalitis.
It is unhealthy for you and for the society as well. It leads to more ignorant society and makes it difficult for people who actually suffer from these illnesses by professional diagnoses. I understand why you feel like you need to exaggerate to be taken seriously. People don’t take us seriously until it is something extreme but that shouldn’t be at the cost of someone else who needs just as much help as you do. I also understand why you are afraid of visiting a psychiatrist. The stigma attached to psychiatrists is another unknown aspect that contributes to increasing number of self diagnoses.
It is good to share that you are struggling but I can only request you, don’t use terms of mental illnesses until you have been diagnosed.