Anon asked: Not very comfortable with this blog now that I know you think self diagnosing is invalid…
We’re getting some pushback for the way we answered this question, and I’d like to address the concerns.
We stand by our stance that self-diagnosis is not recommended. While we acknowledge that people face many barriers when seeking help, mental illness is very real and very serious. Nobody recommends self-diagnosis for anything. Your doctor will tell you not to go on WebMD and use it to self-diagnose because it will just scare you and every single disease and symptom leads to death or cancer. And if you went online and did self-diagnose yourself with something serious like cancer or heart disease, you would then go to the doctor to confirm that diagnosis and get proper treatment for it. We here at 100 Reasons to Recover think that mental illness should be taken as seriously as physical health, and that means getting help from a professional. Yes, there are barriers, and yes it is difficult to get that help for many people, but we will always encourage people to fight against those barriers and get the help they deserve. You have more options than you think you do.
It would be ethically irresponsible of me to condone people self-diagnosing and self-treating these very serious conditions. We are strong proponents of seeking professional help. In fact, you will find that this is ultimately our advice in all cases. In fact, I do not recommend that people use this website as their only form of treatment or only resource. I highly encourage the internet to be a wonderful supplemental resource, and a temporary bandage until further help can be received, but we want to see people fully recovered, fully living amazing lives, and while the internet has many coping tools, it is really hard to do the hard work needed to fully recover without getting treatment.
We don’t recommend self-diagnosis because mental illness is complex. And yes, you know yourself well, and you can check off the symptoms just like a psychologist could. But, many symptoms present across multiple disorders. Mood swings are not just present in bipolar disorder, for example. Frequency and duration play into diagnosis. Some symptoms are actually also symptoms in physical conditions. Many people who struggle with mental illness have co-morbid disorders. That is, they have two or three conditions presenting at the same time. This is so common. We want people to get the best care possible, and that involves getting a proper diagnosis.
Another reason we are weary of self-diagnosis is that that, in itself, is a barrier for people seeking more help. “It’s not bad enough to get help” is such a common misconception. That partly comes from people going online, researching these things, and finding extreme cases. It also comes from reluctance to want to get help in general, because that’s a really hard step to take, but you are self-diagnosing yourself and deciding your diagnosis isn’t that bad, when you probably really could benefit from getting help.
Self-diagnosis keeps people from making that appointment. They know what’s wrong with them already. Why would they need to hear it from someone else? The benefits of therapy reach beyond diagnosis, and some therapists stay away from diagnosis altogether, but the first step is admitting you have a problem and making that appointment. If you think you’ve already got your problem figured out and can handle it all by yourself, why would you get more help, even if you can access it? You might be doing well on your own, but the people who come to us asking questions clearly are not doing well. They probably would benefit from extra help. Most likely, they have tried everything they’ve found online, and it still hasn’t helped. That’s why they are coming to us. What can I do next?
We are not like other recovery blogs. We think the internet is an amazing and supportive tool, but you will not find any one of us encouraging people to use the internet as their only source of treatment. We will not tell you to keep things a secret. We will challenge you to do things that you don’t want to do and that are hard. Often times, we have answered questions in ways that people don’t probably want to hear. People ask us what they can do to feel better, hoping we have a quick fix. Our answer is that, honestly, we don’t know. There isn’t a quick fix and what works for some doesn’t work for others. The best thing you can do for yourself is get help from a professional, who can work with you and your particular situation and get you feeling better. That’s not what people want to hear. People don’t want to hear ‘get professional help’. But we know you’ve tried so many things already. That’s the next logical step, when those things you’ve tried haven’t worked. We have gotten the question I can’t afford treatment. And our response was you have options. Do not let that barrier stop you from looking for options. You have more options than you think you do, but it is really easy to say I don’t have the money and to stop there. Low fee therapy, sliding scale therapy, community clinics, training centers, support groups, do exist.There may be a waiting list and you may have to really look for them, but they exist in many communities.
For more information about the dangers of self-diagnosis, click here.
We are a positive blog. We are a pro-recovery blog. And we are a pro-treatment blog. We have never hidden this, and our message of trusting your care to a professional has been consistent. We understand this is difficult, but we never said recovery is a walk in a park. You’ll face internal and external barriers. We do believe that you can overcome them. Oh, it’s going to be hard. We know that. But it will be worth it.
Today’s mental health reminder: a relapse, a sudden series of attacks, a string of awful days, (or whatever your step back may be) does not decrease your value. Take your time, do some self care, reflect on the progress that you have made. You are strong; one step back is nothing when you look at the journey you have already made.
little things that help ease symptoms of depression:
- turn the lights on and open a window
- eat something healthy and drink ice cold water
- find a comforting album to listen to whenever things get bad
- take a long, relaxing bath
- do yourself up in full make up and hair
- be around people, even if you don’t think it will help
- watch something funny on netflix
- wear your favorite/most comfortable outfit
- immerse yourself in a hobby like drawing
- lose yourself in a really good book or movie
Be OK — Ingrid Michaelson