Wednesday, 23 August 2017

A Personal Post on Self-Diagnosis

personal, lifestyle, depression, self-diagnosis, mental illness

I feel like this may be seen as a rather controversial post, so I’m going to say what I have to say and leave it here. I’m not saying that it’s OK to self-diagnose yourself with depression after one crappy day, but I suppose I feel it’s important for people to know that sometimes self-diagnosis happens as a result of no other options. Doctors did not wish to diagnose, to know my pain, to ask if my self-harm was linked with suicidal thoughts. Instead they gave me pills, or they gave me a list of therapists to call myself, and then they ushered me out of their office. I was just 18 years old, and nobody wanted to diagnose me, or give me the time of day.

When I was sixteen I cut myself for the first time. I was crying, and I couldn't stop. I tried to muffle myself and keep quiet - there were three other people living in the house too at the time - but I wanted to sob as loudly and as uncontrollably as I needed to. I don't know what triggered it exactly. But this blackhole formed, sucking the life out of me. I didn't want to go on. I didn't want to exist. I didn't want to be me. I hated every aspect of myself. I counted up my flaws, made a list, memorised it. I hated the way I looked - my size 8/10 figure was so fat when I looked in the mirror, my hair was frizzy and uncooperative, my skin was so acne-riddled. Keeping it together, going to school, living 'normally' drained every ounce of energy in my already lacking body and mind. Poisonous friends and class mates made me feel even worse.

It went on like this for a while. I cried every night. I cut every night. I hated myself 24/7 and wished for it to end. It went on for two years, and while I still cried a lot, I self-harmed somewhat less often for the next two following that. I have six large art journals detailing the bad, and the good, as scarcely as it came. Pages upon pages full of flaws, thoughts of death. I wrote poems of the blackness in my bones. Only now, at 23, do I feel I am slowly gaining control of what once fully consumed me and ripped me apart. 

I asked doctors for help twice and it was the hardest thing I've ever had to do, but they brushed me aside with a prescription for anti-depressants, or a list of about 30 phone numbers for counsellors. They did not wish to speed up the waiting line for me, nor did they ask me any questions about what went on in my mind. They did not want to get to know me, they did not have the time for a teenager claiming to be depressed. Even now I have never seen a counsellor for the self harm or the depression that started in 2010. I was never diagnosed.

But if that isn't depression, what is?

Please don't tar everyone who self-diagnoses with the same brush. I know some people really do just jump on the band wagon. Part of the reason I deleted Tumblr when I was around 18 was because of how toxic the people on there were, and the glamorised fashion of being depressed, suicidal, broken, in constant anguish. It's not cool. It's not cute. It's not beautiful. You probably won't be saved. It's painful and crushing and, at times, unbearable. But not everyone who self-diagnoses is doing it to seem 'mysterious' and 'glamorous'. 2010-2015, for the most part, have been the most hellish, nightmarish, most miserable and soul-destroying years of my life. The fact that I never looked harder for professional help doesn't make my pain any less real. I have family who have suffered depression, and I myself have suffered other conditions linked with depression too - and even telling you this makes it sound like I am trying to justify something I told myself I never would. It's unfair to judge when you don't know what goes on in someone's life. Honestly? I didn’t want meds or therapy anyway. I wanted to help myself. It took me a while. For the first several years it may have done more harm than good. But I've gotten there. I climbed out the black hole of misery (although it still tries to pull me back in). It took me six years but I'm here now, and I have to say, the view has never looked better.

Edit, April 2018: In January I was finally diagnosed. Yup. 8 years later.


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