Probable diagnosis of PTSD
That’s the result from an online test that I took last night.
It started when a blogger friend wanted some advice on a post she had written. So I gave my thoughts on the situation. She was worried that maybe it was post traumatic stress (which, until this afternoon, I thought was the same thing as PTSD), so I suggested that she search for the DSM criteria on it. She came back to me and it turns out that she didn’t ‘qualify’ for the diagnosis.
By now I was curious too, and decided to also take the test. “Just for fun”. As I was reading the questions and working my way through them, I felt this chill run down my spine. Those questions struck a major chord with what I have been experiencing lately. And the high score I got at the end worried me.
But then I started laughing. I actually laughed out loud at myself. Why? This whole thing reminded me of the time that I was convinced I had ADHD. I had also taken the tests for that, and had most of the symptoms. So I started reading articles and books on the subject. But then a year or two later, I got diagnosed with BPD instead. On the positive side, at least I know pretty much everything there is to know about ADHD, including the medications. That can’t be a bad thing.
It’s so easy for us to assume we have a physical or mental illness by what we read on the internet. Just like a sore throat can have many different causes and signal anything from a cold to cancer. To say “I’m going to die, I have cancer!” because Google or a medical site listed that as one cause, is dangerous. It’s the same regarding mental health. It can cause unnecessary stress and paranoia, and some people even take it a step further and change their entire lives. Thinking we know what’s wrong with us can sometimes cause serious harm, because we think we don’t need to get it checked out. After all, we know what’s wrong, right? The medical website said so, how can it be wrong? No, it’s not necessarily wrong, but there’s lots of factors involved in order to get an accurate diagnosis. So we might miss what’s actually really going on.
I don’t believe these tests should be used by individuals to diagnose themselves, and go about their lives living according to this ‘diagnosis’ that they assume they have. These tests are just a tool to help guide you to seek professional help if needed.
There are a few questions on the PTSD list that overlap with the symptoms of BPD, anxiety and depression. So how can I know whether it’s a result of these diagnoses or whether it’s PTSD? That’s one example of why this isn’t just black and white. It’s not a simple thing. I believe that only a professional will be able to distinguish the difference.
When I was working at the bookstore, a customer came in one day (clearly drunk), and asked whether we had any books on Borderline Personality Disorder. I knew the Psychology section really well, so I told my colleague that I’d help this customer. I showed him the few books we had, and he told me that he’ll take all of them. While I was ringing them up, he proceeded to tell me (very loudly) that his wife is crazy, and that she’s always shouting at him, that he can’t do anything right in her eyes. He said that she has BPD so he was buying the books for her. I asked him whether she was seeing anyone for it, and he told me that she doesn’t need to because he knows she has it and doesn’t want to waste money. That the books were cheaper. At that point I wanted to say something (a few things actually), but I kept my mouth shut and tried to get him out out of there as soon as possible, because he just wouldn’t stop complaining. Everyone around us were staring and shaking their heads. Even the manager was on the verge of throwing him out. I breathed a sigh of relief when he eventually left. But I was pissed off.
And the sad part is that this kind of thing happens all the time. I’m guilty of it myself. Case in point; I’m sure my dad has NPD. But I’ll never know whether he actually does, because he’s always made it clear that he thinks psychology and therapy is a load of bullshit. So it’s not my place to try to label him, or anyone else for that matter.
Another thing. People tend to throw diagnosis around like it’s a new fashion statement. Those people who think it’s ‘cool’ to be able to say “I think I have Bipolar Disorder”, are precisely those who don’t, because if they had to live with it, they’d be wishing they didn’t.
My previous doctor had a note on her door:
“If you come in here having diagnosed yourself using Google, you’ll be charged double.”
I can’t remember the exact wording, but it’s pretty close. Every doctor should have that sign up.
So Google… You’re helpful and all, but I don’t trust you. So I think I’ll stick to my psychologist’s assessments.
Oh, and in case anyone is interested, this is the test I took.