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Truths

Mental Illness . . . err, sickness . . . err, Disorders.

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An interesting conversation on some forums came up yesterday about those of us who struggle mentally possibly making ourselves ill. They had the support of people until they questioned:

Now the doctor should say “try to imagine that your not mentally ill, don’t tell yourself that it’s the case, and go about your daily activities as if you aren’t ill.”, would that get many people over the depression? Physical problems are obvious, but with mental illness it’s always subjective, one may answer that I have these traits, but those could be grey areas.

After using their logic to defend their belief that if you took a lot of tests everyone would have some kind of disorder, so they wouldn’t be disorders they would be normal, they came up with the above question.

I think it’s why the person who responded to them was not on their side. Their response was:

No, it wouldn’t. Depression is epic to deal with. If a person responded to that kind of “treatment.” Then they probably didn’t have depression in the first place. And yes, there are grey areas. Where something could be depression or another issue. But that’s the same with physical illnesses. There’s often not a firm single diagnosis. The doctor will treat the most likely cause. If the treatment doesn’t fix it, they try the next most likely. And so on. Any physical illness forum will have “horror” stories. About doctors who refused to believe the actual diagnosis. And tried all the wrong treatments first. That doesn’t mean that people don’t have a genuine issue. Or that whatever it is is something they should “just get on with.”

I gave them both the benefit of the doubt.

Let’s discuss it anyway, shall we? Because one of the reasons I started this blog was to talk about stigma and self-stigma and how we as the people being stigmatized can address it in a productive way. Although that concept has gotten a little lost in my aggressive, generally satirical rants. 

I’m sure we can all agree here that telling someone “you don’t have depression” will not solve their depression.

mum-told-me-stop-being-so-depressed-all-the-time-wow-im-cured-a-plus-plus-parenting-no-more-tears-never-have-to-be-sad-again

However, can we all agree that when we were first diagnosed, or when we’re labeled by a professional, you almost immediately get that sense of something being wrong with you? Of being clinically different than others? Of having a “chemical imbalance”?

Can we all agree that so many mental disorders listed in the DSM-V have overlapping features, and can we please agree that many of them have symptoms that could easily be misdiagnosed by a professional or exaggerated by a patient caught up in themselves after searching on the internet?

This is what the original poster mentioned about labels:

[Labeling] people with a disorder is a more polite way of saying “your a pussy”, “or your lazy”, “or pull your head out of your ass”, maybe they can’t do that, but until they test whether it is an illness and not the latter, then you can’t know.

Because they defined everyone as having some portion of mental disorder, and therefore rendering mental disorders normal behavior, they can come to this conclusion, it follows their logic.

A response to that line of text was that labels are a way for people to “Deal with a collection of symptoms” in which a method is suggested to resolve or manage said collection of symptoms.

I agree with neither of them. I don’t think a label is a way to deal with a collection of symptoms, nor do I think the doctor is calling me a pussy whether or not he’s actually thinking that, I think a label is a way to list a collection of symptoms for clinical purposes and nothing more. And yet, over the years, we’ve placed stereotypes on those symptoms, labeling them “abnormal” and “weird” or “freaky”.

Then we want to start changing the name of the label as if that would change the way people see the symptoms. Because the label is the problem here, right?

Wrong.

Stigma isn’t just people calling us lazy and unorganized and this and that. Stigma is us calling ourselves that and honestly, as an advocate for all of us, I’ve always pushed more for a transformation of how we see ourselves, rather than a transformation of how other people see us.

We can always change how we think. We can’t change how they think That’s their job. 

20090831-old-dogs-cartoon

That doesn’t mean we stop educating the public, it just means we focus the majority of our energy on ourselves, on how we feel about ourselves, on realizing that we’re not defective, genetically mutated, chemically imbalanced, or “Abnormal”, no matter what kind of professional documents say so.

As much as I love psychiatry and psychology, it is not in any way, shape, or form an exact science. We need to stop treating it as such.

That being said, I believe that poster had an underlying point the person responding didn’t catch: seeing ourselves as ill is a problem. Our illness isn’t a problem, obsessing over it as an “illness”, is.

depression-and-bipolar-disorderI have depression. And anxiety. It’s been severe, more severe than I let people on about. But even as a child, even when I knew there was something about me that didn’t quite match with the other children, there was only a brief period in time (a few months maybe) where I thought I was defective.

That doesn’t stop me from being depressed. However, it does stop me from worsening my depression, my anxiety, my obsessions, on my own. It stops me from worrying that my ideas of reality and death, the way I relate seeing a sign on the road to my destiny or seeing someone flash their lights as a message to me, or reading a really inspirational quote and feeling it was meant for me because I’m here for a special reason, my derealization and such, are the beginnings of something “psychotic”.

I think people in general get worried when they take a test online that tells them they’re suffering from traits of a disorder, a mental health problem, an illness.

So I took the liberty of taking a few personality tests, things I feel people go online for the majority of the time. 

Paranoid:

High (Not surprising)

more info | forum
Schizoid:

Moderate (Also not surprising)

more info | forum
Schizotypal:

High (still not surprised)

more info | forum
Antisocial:

Moderate (fucking hilarious if you know what Antisocial means)

more info | forum
Borderline:

Very High (hysterical)

more info | forum
Histrionic:

Low (honestly truthful)

more info | forum
Narcissistic:

High (fuck you)

more info | forum
Avoidant:

High (Not as ‘high’ as you think)

more info | forum
Dependent:

Very High (LOL)

more info | forum
Obsessive-Compulsive:

Very High (Yep. Totally.)

Paranoid |||||||||||| 41% 50%
Schizoid |||||||||||||| 53% 40%
Schizotypal |||||||||||| 45% 56%
Antisocial |||||||||||| 45% 46%
Borderline |||||||||| 36% 45%
Histrionic |||||| 21% 52%
Narcissistic |||||| 30% 40%
Avoidant |||||||||||| 45% 48%
Dependent |||||||||| 40% 44%
Obsessive-Compulsive |||||||||||| 44% 45%

I feel these are pretty common tests people take on the internet, I see it all the time, people self-diagnosing based on traits generalized from an automated system. And when someone sees: “Jeez, I scored 53% on Schizoid, that’s 13 percentage points above the average score!”, they google the term, find the symptoms, and two things happen:

  1. They feel they’ve finally got answers
  2. Subconsciously, they embody those criteria, they embody those symptoms. They may have legitimate struggles, but making themselves (by no real regard of their own) fit a label, they’ve essentially made themselves “sicker”.

I took a mental health assessment. Scores out of 100, animated with the following gifs of my exact reactions:

Substance Abuse: 0

kramer-yes-nod

MDD: 92

edward_scissorhands_yes

Manic Episodes: 43 (keep in mind, I answered ‘sometimes’ to the ONE question that spoke about “feeling elated” and I answered never on the ONE  question about impulsive behaviors, spending, gambling, sexual encounters.)

dvjnujlvs6yeyeyhtjil_confused20mark20wahlberg

Bipolar Disorder: 99

tumblr_inline_njroncdda01t6lxtf

GAD: 100

Panic Disorder: 58

Panic attacks: 53

I took several more. Psych Central thinks I have Borderline Personality Disorder and so does “Borderline Personality Disorder Demystified”. Healthyplace also thinks I have BPD, but they also think I have schizophrenia so go figure. Psych Central disagrees and says I do not have schizophrenia.

What do I gather from all of this?

over-under_yale-wolf_nothing_2_u_1000

Because what people don’t understand about these things are how bullshit the questions are. If someone truly has magical thinking, do you think they’re going to know what that entails? They’ll most likely mark “never”. Most of the questions are generalized, provide no concrete examples, and would be better at rating the consistency level of a healthy dog’s bowel movement than anything about my personality or mental health.

My advice?

Use personality tests for fun. Don’t even use them to “see if you have traits” of a disorder. It’s just not accurate enough for that.

If you’re struggling with your mental health, avoid the internet, it bullies you into believing it. If you’re struggling with your mental health, see a few professionals and get some different opinions.

Don’t take their diagnosis as a life sentence. Don’t take what they say as words from a religious text. You really are as sick as you think you are.

You could struggle with the worst disorder known to man, and as long as you don’t limit yourself, no one else can limit you.

I’m not saying what people experience on a daily basis is a lie. What I’m saying is that it exists, but not in the terms the medical business puts it in. It exists, it’s manageable, and the better we feel about who we are, the easier it is to live with ourselves.

I figure that’s pretty solid common sense.

I’m going to sleep. It’s 5:18 a.m

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About AlishiaDee (378 Articles)
Alishia D. is a blogger, a beginning novelist, and a counselor at 2nd Story Peer Respite house where diagnostic labels and the culture of mental health is long forgotten. She's a mental health peer who has bounced through as many labels as she has doctors, and enjoys being sarcastic when she can. She also hates writing in 3rd person.

5 Comments on Mental Illness . . . err, sickness . . . err, Disorders.

  1. Happy Monday, I took the test and eh, although I agree with some of the things said, other things made me laugh. “I’m sure we can all agree here that telling someone “you don’t have depression” will not solve their depression.” My mother tells me this all the time. To just simply get over my anxiety and I can’t be depressed because “I have a good life”. Parents are funny little creatures at times.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Happy Monday to you as well. Ugh, it’s so annoying when people say that, it’s even worse when it’s a family member who you feel should know better and at least show some support. My parents do the same thing. It never ends lol. No rest for the wicked. Thanks for reading.

      Like

  2. I wouldn’t even wanna see my results since I AM schizophrenic, lol, I’d prob shit a fuckin brick at the results tho. Or just be depressed lol

    Liked by 1 person

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