Eater of Trees

I really really REALLY don’t trust people who oppose self-diagnosis

Posted on: May 25, 2011

(Crossposted from tumblr)

(Of psychiatric issues, that is)

It’s like…

By opposing self diagnosis you are telling people that they cannot understand themselves without outside help.  You’re opposing self-determination.  Like… How the fuck do any activist type people think that’s remotely okay?

And that’s not even getting into how fucked up psychiatric institutions can be.  I cringe every time I see people being like “YOU NEED TO SEE A PSYCHIATRIST BECAUSE YOU’RE WEIRD!”

Just because like… given my experiences that seems like it’s telling people to go subject themselves to abuse.

It also seems like it’s an attempt to stop people with brains outside the norm from forming communities.  Like: “Oh you shouldn’t associate with that community even though you have a LOT in common with them because you’re not really one of them”  Ooo ooo also: “Self diagnosis never helps anyone” because apparently being able to know that there are other people like you and that you can talk to them about how to cope with this stuff is unhelpful. YOU KNOW.

It’s creepy as fuck.  Like creepy in the same way demanding trans people have gatekeepery therapists and then insisting that they assimilate post-transition is creepy.  Because it’s pretty much exactly the same thing.  “Pass yourself off as exactly like everyone else because otherwise PRIVILEGED PEOPLE MIGHT BE UNCOMFORTABLE!  And for the love of god don’t form communities that would mean you might be able to discover that we have no fucking clue what we’re talking about and we’re systematically treating you like shit!”

…yeah.

And additional WordPress bonus commentary:

  • Self-diagnosis is not the same as self-medication; the latter actually is dangerous.  The former is not particularly.  Many psychiatric issues are not mental illness (say, autism) and there isn’t really any obvious way to medicate and “cure” is of questionable desirability.
  • Doctors are not infallible.  Psychiatric institutions are often seriously fucked up and coercive and dehumanizing.  Insisting that they aren’t all is derailing.  And insisting that there is danger in self misdiagnosis while ignoring the rather significant danger in professional misdiagnosis is really fucked up.
  • There is a huge difference between informed self-diagnosis and hypochondria (“Oh no I’m occasionally energetic I must have bipolar!”) or appropriation (“I put a lot of effort into sorting my music lol I’m so OCD”) and the best response to either of those is not to tell a person they can’t possibly have the condition in question, but to educate them on what the conditions actually are; as, for example, I do put a lot of  effort into organizing my music and this is a manifestation of my OCD, but it is hardly the only symptom, and the “can’t wash dishes without panic attacks” and “looking at raw meat can make me gag” symptoms are the ones that really disrupt my life.
  • In the US at least, professional diagnosis can be extremely expensive and in rural locations there may not be any nearby resources to provide it.  Going to a doctor actually requires a lot of privilege here.
  • Biases and stereotypes significantly effect who gets diagnosed with what.  Autism is significantly underdiagnosed in women, for example.  And because my depression was less dramatic than my brother’s, nobody noticed it until I was failing out of college.

2 Responses to "I really really REALLY don’t trust people who oppose self-diagnosis"

if it was possible for me to click ‘like’ for this post multiple times, i so would.

i hate it when people assume that you can’t have insight regarding your own health. it seems like mental health gets even more scrutiny – people self diagnose physical health problems all the time (colds, seasonal allergies, heartburn etc) and will even actively treat them with over-the-counter medications and treatments. and yet developing an informed, knowledgeable perception of one’s mental health is such a problem? what the hell? why?

and i hear ya on the ‘doctors are not infallible’ bit. mine diagnosed me with depression and adhd initially. turns out my perception of what spectrum i was likely in was more accurate! funny, that.

on top of that, actually seeking professional assistance is not always accessible for people. poverty makes it increasingly hard to seek out medical care of any sort, and yet the rate of depression among those in poverty is quite high. and what people have to do and earn just to eat and survive? frequently is considered more than adequate, and federal or state healthcare systems may deny you assistance because of it.

‘self-diagnosis’ can provide a lot of comfort and stability for folks that begin to learn more about their experiences and how their neurology, just like the rest of one’s body, can have a significant impact on how those experiences are perceived. it can help us learn more about ourselves. and it can help us make the changes in life that are needed for us to better handle life and our unique ways of living it. that should not be such a problem.

Yeah I’ve been lately having a lot of problems (I think they’re hormone related but I’m not totally sure about it) and like… not having a label or a good handle on what the symptoms of what I think the cause is should be is making my depression spiral out of control.

So like… pretty much having a diagnosis is kind of essential right now.

I think the moment you say “Self-diagnosis” people start thinking like… concluding you have heart disease because you’re having trouble breathing. Which is like… okay really nobody’s doing that. (Well… okay I am but that’s because I have really bad hypochondria and I’m well aware of which hunches are probably that and which are actually informed.) Nobody bothers thinking “Wait people take ibuprofin for headaches ALL THE TIME”. (And yes I really had a derailer say “You wouldn’t diagnose PHYSICAL conditions without a doctor” …yes actually we do all the time, and generally when we don’t do it it’s because it takes lab tests or such that nobody can possibly do in their home. And like… I got diagnosed with “sleep disturbance” last time I was in the doctor’s office. Like it said on the paper they gave me. It was diagnosed by… me saying I was having trouble sleeping. SO YEAH.)

And yeah I’ve noticed how fucked up government assistance programs are. Apparently if I develop ANY SAVINGS AT ALL I could be kicked off my healthcare. Which is especially problematic since I need to spend thousands of dollars at least on treatment it doesn’t cover.

And you want to talk about helping poor people discouraging them from working MAYBE ITS BECAUSE THE GOVERNMENT PROVIDES DISINCENTIVES IF YOU DO START WORKING. I mean, if they’ll take having a job as evidence that I don’t need their help, I’m not going to risk it.

I mean really.

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