Day 04: How do you feel about people who diagnose themselves online and then treat themselves for bipolar?
Without trying to sound arrogant, or nasty, or anything else one might call someone who insults others, I think people who diagnose themselves as bipolar are idiots. In fact, I would go so far as to say anyone who diagnoses themselves with any illness (be it mental or physical) is an idiot. For you simply cannot diagnose yourself; that must be left up to a trained – impartial – professional.
Granted, some trained professionals are wankers (as we discovered in my last 31 Days of Bipolar post), but the majority have people’s best interests at heart, which is something that cannot always be said about ourselves. In fact, sometimes we are so desperate to ‘explain’ our behaviour with a medicinal label that we leap to the worst possible conclusion.
Many years ago, when I was but a humble teenager, we had a book in the family that I believe was called the “Family Doctor”. This book contained a number of flowcharts for every possible condition which could be afflicting someone. For example, if you had a headache you looked up this symptom and followed the yes/no questions along the flow chart; each question either eliminating or pointing toward a particular illness. So when I began suffering from a simple headache, I would pull out the book and begin answering the questions, which would usually lead to me being diagnosed with the far more serious (and most unlikely) brain tumor. The same went for every symptom I looked up; toothaches led to mouth cancer, a chesty cough meant emphysema and a pain in my arm usually meant I had suffered a fracture of some description. Whereas in reality, I wasn’t suffering from any such thing, I was just suffering from a relatively minor health condition that I believed was something far more serious that it actually was.
The same scenario is now being played out in households across the world, courtesy of Doctor Google, as it’s human nature to seek out the worst possible scenario to explain away simple conditions that, usually, don’t even require medical treatment. The same goes for mental illness. People seeking out the worst possible outcome to explain their behaviour and convincing themselves ‘this is what I suffer from’ when in reality no mental illness exists. Or worst, diagnosing themselves incorrectly and thus medicating themselves with damaging and dangerous psychiatric drugs.
Of course, there is also another set of people who diagnoses themselves online, and I hold these people in such low regard that there isn’t even a word to describe it. And these people are the ‘fashionable diagnosers’; people who diagnoses themselves bipolar because they believe it fashionable to be suffering from such an illness. Perhaps “inspired” by the television show Homeland, or the latest exploits of their favourite celebrity, or a magazine/newspaper article that glorifies mental illness. These people simply want to be bipolar, whether they’re suffering from it or not, and if they were to suffer from bipolar, I would be willing to bet they wouldn’t want such a vicious condition ruining their lives, as bipolar is prone to do.
For me, it’s just wrong, and dangerous, to diagnose yourself. And it is even more dangerous to medicate yourself, especially given the brutal side effects that accompany most psychiatric medication. If you really think you have a mental health problem, forget Google, forget the “Family Doctor” book, forget what you read online; make an appointment to see a mental health professional and talk about your life in order to receive an impartial opinion on what may – or may not – be going on.
It’s the only intelligent thing to do.