- Art by Hiroshi Matsumoto
- 6:25 P.M.
- Mood: apprehensive.
I won’t stop talking about seeking help because there are people out there who, like me, are too intimidated to. They’re afraid of being judged or ridiculed when they ask a professional if something’s wrong. Why? Well, in the context of mental illness, let’s look into society’s take on it.
Mental illnesses started off as something taboo. You were “crazy” by default if you had a mental illness, and people were to be careful around you. Now, with more widespread knowledge of what actually comprises a mental illness, they’ve become more accepted. And, as society goes, the things that are found to be accepted then become a fad. People want to stand out, so they’ll use anything they can to seem quirky, including claiming that they have a mental illness.
On the internet, where people can’t check official diagnostic records, and base their knowledge of mental illnesses on online quizzes and Tumblr posts, self-diagnosis has become all the rage. While being curious about one’s emotional wellbeing is positive, basing knowledge of why certain emotions are prevalent on things found on the internet is super risky. Anyone can slap any post about anxiety disorder traits on the internet and claim that it’s official. It could say that one of the symptoms are, “Dancing like a fuckin’ chicken”, and a person would be like, “Well, I do that sometimes. Maybe I have this!” They buy into the label from a source that may not even be reliable, and they go with it. So, you’ve got everyone “crying wolf” with mental illnesses.
It makes mental illness seem less believable.
On top of that, you’ve got the very common misconception that people who truly have mental illnesses are oblivious to it. They have to be forced to go see someone because they have no idea how their behaviors are affecting those around them. Then, they have that “A-ha!” moment with a therapist that their behaviors are caused by this mental illness. If you know ahead of time that something may not be right, then you’re considered a “hypochondriac” of mental illness. You’re makin’ that shit up so you can be like the rest of society.
That’s why I was afraid to seek help. I found this information of what could be happening on the internet and other resources, for one. Plus, since I feel like I’ve gotten into the ballpark of what may be causing me to be the way I am, I’m bringing all of these guesses with me, which may make it seem like I just SO BADLY want to have mental/developmental disorders to seem “cool”.
But, I’ve struggled enough, man. I need to know something.
Sure, I have gotten some of my information from potentially not very reliable sources. But, the difference is I’m looking to genuinely figure this shit out. If I’m wrong, then teach me what those disorders are really about so I’ll know later on down the line. If I’m right, fine. Let’s learn about how I can cope with them. That’s all it has to be.
People–some of you may be in a spot like I was. You may be afraid that a professional would roll his/her eyes at you for wondering if you have a certain illness (mental or not). You may worry that you’ll be labeled as a hypochondriac and be sent off because you researched your symptoms from the internet, and true patients aren’t normally that knowledgeable about what’s actually going on.
Well, first of all, if you’re going to a therapist (or doctor) who writes you off like that, you’re not seeing the right person. That person shouldn’t even have a degree to help and have compassion towards people.
Second of all, only you know yourself well enough to know when something’s wrong. Not even a doctor or a therapist can say “there’s nothing wrong with you”. If you feel it, that shit’s there, and it’s real. Nothing can take that away.
Third of all, keeping track of your symptoms/experiences, and potentially getting into the ballpark of what the issue may be could help make diagnostic testing a faster process. A doctor could then know to test for specific things that may be causing you to feel the way you feel, rather than going into testing blind (though, they’ll at least kinda know what to look for based on symptoms).
Fourth of all, if you’re curious, but also unsure, seeking help is the only way you’ll fully know what’s up. Illnesses and disorders (both mental and not) have symptoms that mimic each other. So, it’s easy to think you may have one thing one day, research it again, and then change your mind as to what you feel you may have. You can’t really tell unless you’re truly tested for it.
And don’t get so wrapped up in what everyone else is doing. Don’t feel like you’re about to be one of those people who “cry wolf”. Because if you’re legitimately looking for answers from a professional, you’re already a step ahead of those guys.