Commentary: Stop Saying You Suffer From Disorders You Don’t Have

While many people do factually suffer from disorders, some people use them poorly and for attention.

While many people do factually suffer from disorders, some people use them poorly and for attention.

Reece Jacob, Reporter

Have you noticed how people often arbitrarily claim to have random mental issues? This is something I find really annoying and sometimes insulting, and I wanted to talk about it.

People like to say they have anxiety, OCD, or disorders like them. I’m not saying these disorders don’t exist, I suffer from some of them. I just see a lot of people using these terms incorrectly. They react a certain way or get nervous and say they have some kind of illness.

The main one I see people throw around a lot is anxiety disorders. These include generalized anxiety disorder, panic disorder, social anxiety, and separation anxiety. I would say one of the most annoying things you can say is, “Oh if you think about it, everyone has an anxiety disorder.” Just because someone doesn’t feel comfortable taking a test does not mean they have an anxiety disorder. Someone could feel nervous in a crowd, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they have social anxiety. The fact that you don’t like to be alone doesn’t mean you have separation anxiety.

However, there is a level of truth to their feelings. Anxiety can mean both the disorder and the feeling. Someone can feel anxious without having the disorder, that’s extremely common. My problem happens when someone thinks that everyone has the disorder, or the disorder isn’t real; it’s just the feeling. It’s also bad when someone believes they have the disorder without experiencing the majority of it and without being diagnosed.

Another anxiety disorder I wanted to talk about is OCD. I’m putting this in its own section because people seem to say they have OCD more than any other disorder, and it makes me want to pull my hair out. OCD is more serious than you probably expect.

To get a better grasp on what this disorder is all about, I spoke with a peer who has been diagnosed with OCD.

“OCD doesn’t mean you want everything to be perfect,” said freshman Sydney Rohrberg. “It just means you need things in a very specific way.”

A lot of people think OCD is just wanting things clean, or always the same. Most everyone thinks about the idea of having posters and paintings on the wall always be straight. While they’re not necessarily wrong, the disorder goes far beyond that to the smallest details. The smallest things you’d never notice are things others obsess about.

“There’s a line on my table,” said Rohrberg. “I have to have my table mat line up with the line or else it irritates me.”

Self-diagnosing anxiety is difficult, and I don’t recommend it. It’s hard to understand if you dislike crowds or if you have social anxiety; if you have really strong relationships or separation anxiety. However, please don’t just assume you have something because of a couple of similarities.

Moving beyond anxiety disorders, another issue many people claim to have is depression.

Depression is a lot more complicated. If you weren’t aware, depression is a mood disorder that doesn’t just mean you’re sad all the time, it affects your life negatively. This can include self-harm, where you physically hurt yourself. It also includes self-paralysis, where you struggle to get work done and get up in the morning. By that, I absolutely do not mean someone tries to sleep in a lot and fails to clean their room. It has to be significantly worse.

I think a lot of people assume once they feel continuously sad for around a week, they’re depressed. I don’t feel that annoyed towards these people because I think this is a misunderstanding. As I already explained, it isn’t depression until it begins changing the way you are.

A lot of people don’t know how to properly self-diagnose depression, and I think that’s the main issue. Another important part of understanding your depression is knowing what you’re depressed about. For starters, you can’t be depressed about the past. That’s not the way it works. However, the past can lead to problems you have currently. According to therapist Brenda McIlnay, these problems generally belong in three groups: Yourself, Others, or The Future. You can’t be depressed about a breakup you’ve had, but the breakup can influence your perception of yourself.

Another thing is that you don’t have to be depressed about anything to be suffering from depression. The true cause is not something happening around you, within you, or ahead of you, it’s just your brain chemicals. They don’t travel fast enough, and it doesn’t have a good effect on your mental health. Other problems just add to it, and there’s nothing wrong with that.

Please remember to think before you say something that you don’t know if it is true. It can be rude to a fair amount of people who have been diagnosed with a disorder.

“Sometimes I get it when people say they have OCD when they don’t,” said Rohrberg. “But it can be a little frustrating. It can make the way you feel not as validated.”

If you feel you may actually suffer from something difficult, I strongly recommend getting a therapist or speaking to the school’s emotional learning liaison, Michelle Manning, or one of the guidance counselors to help. No doubt it can be terrifying at first, but I promise it’s worth it.