To be honest with you, I don’t waste my time arguing with people about whether addiction is a disease or not, and I taught my clients to do the same when I was doing groups at the rehab. It’s pointless to get into arguments with people who don’t want to change their mind or don’t care about facts. I actually made a video recently about why you need to stop arguing with idiots on my YouTube channel.
This conversation also comes up around mental illness as a whole. People have this debate over whether depression, anxiety, PTSD, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and everything else is a disease. While science is different for each disorder, we need to understand that there are differences in the brain and the genetics of many people struggling with different disorders.
Again…why’s it such a big deal?
Why People Make it a Big Deal
There’s some fascinating research out there that I really want to dive into more about the stories we tell ourselves and how they affect our ability to overcome adversity. It’s been proven through various studies that people who believe their hopelessness are less likely to try.
I hate to say it, but I understand why people don’t like calling mental illness a disease or even a disorder.
Have you ever seen a DSM? It’s thicker than my chunky self. There are an insane amount of diagnoses in that book, and basically, if your brain isn’t perfect, you can get diagnosed. Some people really aren’t happy with all of the different diagnoses either, and I get it.
Now, there are some conspiracy theorists out there who believe that the DSM being made by the American Psychiatric Association for profit (whereas the ICD is not) may skew what they put in the book. There’s a lot of money in diagnosing people. If you’re diagnosed with “a disease”, you need to keep coming back to get treatment. There’s also big money in pharmaceuticals, so if your disorder is really bad, you may need to be on meds forever.
These are some of the reasons people are skeptical about the DSM and how so many people are being diagnosed.
My thoughts? As someone who tries to stay open-minded, I don’t like having a hard stance on anything. Are there millions of people around the world who have legitimate psychological disorders? Yes. Are there millions of people who have been misdiagnosed because they met some criteria in the DSM? Absolutely.
So What’s The Solution?
Sometimes life just f*cking sucks.
I don’t have nearly enough time to go through all of this, but if you’re signed up for the mailing list, I’ll definitely dive further into this subject in future blogs. Long story short, not everything means we have a mental illness. Yes, I have a generalized anxiety disorder and major depressive disorder, but because of all the hard work I’ve put into my mental health, most of the time it’s under control.
In my opinion, one of the issues with diagnosing everyone is that we’re forgetting about psychological resilience and flexibility. We’re forgetting how it’s normal to get anxious sometimes, and it’s normal to be depressed sometimes. Went through trauma or suffered a loss? That’s supposed to suck.
Now, I’m not saying you’re fixed. It takes a lot of work. I highly recommend you talk to a psychiatrist or doctor if you feel you need meds to help you get to a baseline. For me, 12-step meetings and having a support group saved my life. At the time of writing this blog, I’ve read 53 books this year, and most of them are about how to improve your mental health through evidence-based practices.
I also started therapy this year for the first time in my life. Although everyone may not have a specific illness, I’m not kidding when I say that I think everyone needs therapy. We all need someone who can take a purely objective look at our life and help guide us through it. If you can’t afford therapy, find a good mentor. Hell, have some good friends who just tell you like it is. We all need someone in our life that’s there to say, “You’re acting crazy right now” or “That’s a completely irrational thought”.
If you need help, get it. Just don’t think that you need to have a disorder to work on your mental health. I try to look at my mental health like my physical health. Some of us just need to lose a few pounds, and some of us just need to develop some new coping skills. But, if you’re like me, you need both.
If you’re looking for affordable therapy from the comfort of your own home, I personally use BetterHelp online therapy. I have a badass therapist, and I highly recommend this easy-to-use service. By clicking here to sign up, it helps support the work I do as well.
Originally published at https://www.therewiredsoul.com on November 2, 2019.