If as many people that claim to have insomnia, anxiety, paranoia, anorexia, depression or addiction actually do, we would be living in one big mental institution. But we aren’t, which means some of these claims are invalid. Already doctors are labeling everything short of perfection — if a student is “too outgoing,” he must have A.D.D. — like that, illnesses are given out like candy. But apparently there isn’t enough candy going around because people have been diagnosing themselves.

Three sleepless nights? You must have insomnia. Stressed? You have anxiety. Scared? You have paranoia. Sad? You’re depressed.

Every small issue is transformed into a clinical and serious problem and it may be because that’s the only thing that gets taken seriously anymore. Therefore people are going about diagnosing themselves with things that — for the majority of the time — they don’t have. This is called self-diagnosis and is in no way a credible source of diagnosis.

For some, the purpose it may serve as an excuse or rationalization for their general behavior or personality. For others it simply adds desired depth to their character. Perhaps happiness has come to be viewed as a superficial emotion relative to the perceived depth behind sadness, envy, anger and hopelessness. This need to manipulate one’s state of mind and emotional being is unprecedented and it can be credited to mankind’s increasingly heightened sense of self-awareness.

See, the more we understand about ourselves, the more we are subject to change, the more we are capable to change and the more we desire to change. People deliberately alter their hair color, sense of style and personality, so why not their mental well-being? People are all too similar to books, and every book must have a plot to be interesting. A simple book with no complexities is unrelatable and bland. Where there are no problems, many create their own so they become a lovely, deep novel that captures the intrigue of many.

See, the more we understand about ourselves, the more we are subject to change, the more we are capable to change and the more we desire to change.

On the other hand, to understand the person who already has enough troubles and yet still engages in self-diagnosis, one must understand that more than any drug, sadness is addictive and sadness is comfortable. Once lost in despair, it is difficult to recall knowing or wanting anything different, thus leading to the creation of problems.

However, some truly believe they have the illnesses they claim to have, and this is where the danger begins. Illness activates in the mind and it is possible to think of yourself as sick. People tell themselves as well as others they have problems so often they come to believe it themselves, and this triggers the destructive behaviors that are associated with the illness they have chosen to associate themselves with.


Art by Arthur Nguyen / Daily Nexus

Art by Arthur Nguyen / Daily Nexus

Someone once told me, “Maybe you want yourself to have a problem.” This — as unconventional as it seems — may hold some truth, specifically regarding this generation, which seems to be deeply infatuated with sadness, troubles and complications. Perhaps this is the reason they wish problems on themselves and create them out of nothing.

But in the creation of these nonexistent problems, something bigger and more permanent grows, something real. Somewhere along the road you fall into your made up illness and it becomes a reality.

Those who desire something like this to get lost in — those who are somehow completely seduced by the concept of sadness and difficulty — have failed to understand why these mental illnesses are classified as illnesses. Due to widespread self-diagnosis, it becomes viewed as common to have certain mental illnesses, which detracts from the credibility and importance given to those who truly have these illnesses.

Labels are not to be self-implemented. Problems are not to be sought. There will be enough sadness and troubles to come without creating your own.

One can possess a mental illness, but that does not mean that one is that illness.

It is almost distasteful the way in which people use their self-diagnosed problems as a conversation piece, as if it is just another shining characteristic to highlight. This behavior creates the idea that one’s mental illness defines who they are, when this is simply not the case. One can possess a mental illness, but that does not mean that one is that illness.

Of course, it should go without saying that understanding that something within you is wrong is not the same as creating something wrong within yourself.

It cannot be said that the reason people self-diagnose is unknown, for the basis of their actions makes seems to make all too much sense.

Clearly self-diagnosis is understandable.

Still, nothing can make it right.

Anjalie Tandon urges you to take the reality of mental illness seriously.