The Millennial Self-Diagnosis Crisis

The Millennial Self-Diagnosis Crisis

Deciding you have a mental illness can't be an option.

“There’s nothing wrong with you,”

said [Mom/Dad/Grandparent]. “You’re just being dramatic.”

Too often have millennials heard this phrase and received these words when they were seeking comfort. A generation brought up under intense, emotional stress, having their feelings and emotions undermined. There are times throughout one’s youth where, yes, they are most definitely being dramatic, but that doesn’t mean that every cry for help doesn’t deserve some form of validation. It is this lack of validation, this desire to assume that nothing is actually wrong but instead that one is being dramatic, that I think has lead millennials on a rampage of self-diagnosis and publication, therefore desiring validation where they could never find it.

I will neither confirm nor deny anybody’s mental illnesses. Depression is real and it’s destructive, but it’s also so often mistaken for being upset or feeling disappointed in one’s situation. Anxiety is tangible and overwhelming and miserable, but that doesn’t mean that all stress, which can at times bring on those feelings, is the same as anxiety. The aforementioned, as well as countless other mental illnesses (OCD, ADD, bipolar disorder, ADHD, etc.), have become, especially with the increasing individual social media presence, a central point of discussion for many young men and women.

Not because they’ve seen a doctor or a therapist and someone has told them that what they’re feeling isn’t just sadness or a feeling of overwhelmedness resulting from outside factors, but because they are seeking validation and will turn to putting labels on their feelings as a means of garnering external support. It’s much easier to empathize with someone who's not simply ignoring their responsibilities and then swimming in the aftermath, than someone whose “ADD” leaves them with “Anxiety” about tasks they can’t complete because they can’t focus.

It’s easy to understand why this is happening; millennial brains are, and I myself am admitting to this as I make this generalization, wired to desire constant attention and focus. Narcissism is prevalent in a culture that spends most of its time staring at photos of other people and sharing photos of yourself in everyday situations, and understandably so. There also wasn't the right outlets, as there has never really been, for kids to seek mental health and guidance without feeling embarrassed or uncomfortable, having to ask a parent to pay for it, or making some sort of effort to see a guidance counselor who is more concerned with scheduling 20 students into an AP History class, than with your feelings.

However, this does not mean that it’s not problematic. While unfortunately if I could, I would kiss the foreheads of all of my contemporaries to make them feel validated, such would not solve the problem. Lots of the issues that young people face are, in fact, their own damn fault. Part of growing up is learning to deal with these mistakes and not just deflect them into a category of self-inflicted mental illness. So while part of the issue is that we can’t diagnose people if they don’t see a doctor, we also can’t diagnose people if they don’t have anything actually wrong with them, but are instead lazy or maybe a little self-absorbed.

Part of the issue is by feeding into these conspiracy-style mental illness diagnoses, we are also invalidating people who struggle with real mental illnesses every day. Imagine hearing day-to-day rhetoric whereby what you’re going through, what you’re taking pills for or staying up until two in the morning for, is being used to describe the sensation of forgetting to do one’s homework because they were out all night. Imagine not being able to find validity in your own issues because others are inflicting it upon themselves.

People with real anxiety often won’t spend so much time ruminating on their anxiety because it’s not easy to talk about and it’s not comfortable to bring up in a group conversation. People with depression oftentimes don’t like to publicize it because they don’t like to publicize their struggle with something that so many people see as self-inflicted. It takes great strength to come out with a serious mental illness, and only a little strength to come forward about one that you’ve decided you have.

It’s okay to seek validity and it’s okay to feel mentally unhealthy, but if such is the case you shouldn’t take to social media to proclaim that you are a slurry of mental illnesses bottled up into one photogenic post-teenager. If we’re trying to open the discussion on mental illness, to relinquish the taboos that have hindered the subject for so long, we have to stop making it seem like it isn’t worth discussing; that it’s a product of lazy twenty-somethings not being able to take care of themselves.

Cover Image Credit: Asdrubal luna / Unsplash

Popular Right Now

A list Of 15 Inspiring Words That Mean So Much

A single word can mean a lot.

Positivity is so important in life. A lot of times we always go to quotes for empowerment but I have realized that just one word can be just as powerful. Here is a list of inspiring words.

1. Worthy

Realizing your self-worth is important. Self-worth can really make or break a persons personality. Always know that you are worthy of respect. And also, never compare yourself to others.

2. Courage

Be courageous in life. Life has so many opportunities so do not be scared to grasp any opportunity that comes your way. You have the ability to do anything you have your heart and mind set to do, even the things that frighten you.

3. Enough

When you are feeling down and feeling that nothing you do is ever good enough, know that you are more than enough. And yes there is always room for improvement but when it comes to my self-worth I always have to remind myself that I am enough.

4. Blessed

Be thankful. A lot of times we forget how blessed we are. We focus so much on stress and the bad things that are going on in our lives that we tend to forget all of the beautiful things we have in life.

5. Focus

Focus on your goals, focus on positive things, and focus on the ones you love. Do not focus on things that will keep you from not reaching your goals and people that do not have good intentions for your life.

6. Laugh

Laughing is one of the best forms of medicine. Life is truly better with laughter.

7. Warrior

Through the good and the bad you are a warrior. Be strong, soldier.

8. Seek

Seek new things. Allow yourself to grow in life. Do not just be stuck.

9. Faith

During the bad times, no matter the circumstances, have faith that everything will be all right.

10. Live

Start living because life is honestly way too short. Live life the way you want to live. Do not let anyone try to control you.

11. Enjoy

Enjoy everything that life has to offer. Enjoy even the littlest of things because, as I said before, life is short. And plus, there is no time to live life with regrets.

12. Believe

Believe in yourself and never stop. Believing in yourself brings so many blessings and opportunities in your life.

13. Serendipity

A lot of times we look for things to fill an empty void that we have. Usually what we are looking for comes when we are not looking at all. Your serendipity will come.

14. Create

Share your ideas with the world. Creativity brings change to your life. However you chose to use your creativity do not be scared to show your intelligence, talent, and passion.

15. Love

The world is already full of so much hate, so love unconditionally with all your heart.

Cover Image Credit: Tanveer Naseer

Related Content

Connect with a generation
of new voices.

We are students, thinkers, influencers, and communities sharing our ideas with the world. Join our platform to create and discover content that actually matters to you.

Learn more Start Creating

The Things I Found At Rock Bottom

It was the darkest, but the dawn did come.


About 3 months ago, my whole life was uprooted by a breakup.

My ex ended a relationship with me very suddenly that I had the full intention of being in for the rest of my life, and even thought I knew it was a necessary loss, coming down from that high and detoxing our toxic relationship from my system was the hardest thing I have ever been through. There was a day I finished up in class and zoned out and started driving, until I found myself three hours away from home. I didn't eat for days, and I woke up every day having panic attacks when I remembered everything that had happened. The first few weeks were a dark, horrible blur, with pain at levels I would never wish on anyone. On top of that, I was also forced to move an hour away from home and quit a job that I loved as a result of the breakup.

I wasn't just losing a person, I was losing everything that I built my identity up to be. Our relationship was my whole life, and that's why I knew that us breaking up was necessary, but that didn't take away the two and a half years of memories I was left with. He also chose to end it in such a violent and excruciating way — telling me he never loved me, cutting off all contact with me, and basically telling me to kill myself. Sitting in the rubble of all of this, I had never felt so empty and void of happiness before.

But when you're completely shattered and sitting in nothing but rubble, you're presented with a beautiful opportunity — a blank canvas. There are no morning and night routines laid out for you, you don't have the same people texting you as before, you don't have the good morning text that you were used to. You have nothing. Because of these things, your own interests and desires become the default setting you're programmed to operate on, and you get to know yourself in a way that you didn't before.

Here's how I found my way out of the void.

1. Small distractions are so helpful.

.There were a few things that I turned to that were absolutely crucial to me when I was struggling to keep it together: New Girl, playing the game Words With Friends, and journaling (free-writing, and writing in these that I found at Target). Honestly, these things rarely actually made me feel better. However, the value I found in them was creating new habits and filling my life back up with things that didn't involve my heartbreak.

2. You need a support system.

I have always had a hard time trusting people and talking about my feelings. So I thought, naturally, the way to cope with that is to find one person you can trust, and for them to be your ride or die. That's what my ex was for me. When he was gone, I had to learn how to open up to people again, which was extremely foreign and uncomfortable for me. It was an odd feeling to text a friend and say "I'm not okay right now and I need you", and even more uncomfortable when they were nice and supportive back. But all of the dozens of people I leaned on ended up being literally a support system for me- giving me advice, keeping me in check, and telling me all of the things I didn't want to hear, like how pathetic I was acting at some points.

3. You absolutely cannot avoid pain in life.

A quote I found by Jon Kabat-Zinn reads, "You can't stop the waves, but you can learn to swim" and that became a guiding philosophy for me in dealing with pain. As comforting as it would've been for me to tell myself I'll never let anyone hurt me again, or I was never going to be in another relationship again, I instead decided to tell myself that I was never going to let something break me so deeply again, because I would have a stronger foundation of me and a stronger sense of self. So that when the next person left my life, I would be sad, but I wouldn't feel shattered to the core ever again. Life involves constant rejection, constant disappointment, and constant anxiety. You will never escape that. You will hurt so much throughout life. But if you can build yourself to be strong enough, it won't matter.

4. You can empathize with somebody and forgive their actions and still want nothing to do with them- and that's okay.

When my ex and I were together, he messed up and did a lot of things wrong. He would scream at me and tell me he hated me and apologize with so much fear and hurt in his eyes and say, "I'm sorry, sometimes my anxiety causes me to demonize you" and in the moment I wasn't strong enough to say "it's okay, but you're abusive and I need to be away from you". I instead would say, "It's okay, let's not worry about it and just go to bed" and it would keep on happening. I empathized too much with his demons and gave him too much understanding at my own expense. Now I've learned that I can still feel that way about him, but when he reaches out asking for another chance, I can say no. And I don't feel guilty anymore.

5. Your relationship with yourself should be your top priority.

To explain my experience of learning to love myself, it would take pages. Simply put, I started being okay with things just being me, myself, and I. If I had a rough day, I would at first come home wishing I had my ex there to talk to and be there for me. Eventually I started going to Target, picking up a bottle of wine, and taking care of my damn self. I stopped thinking "oh I'd love to do this but I don't have anybody to go with me" and started eating at restaurants alone, going to bars alone, and going on hikes alone. I bought myself jewelry that I wished a guy would buy me. I said yes to every guy that asked me out on a date just to put myself out there. I spontaneously went and got a new tattoo completely by myself. And now that I steady to the core in my own being, anybody in my life is there because they're a complement, not a supplement. This will protect me from ever staying in a relationship again that manages to gut me in the way my previous one did.

A quote that I love from J.K. Rowling reads, "Rock bottom became the solid foundation on which I rebuilt my life", and that is absolutely true of what the past three months have been for me. Day by day, I've pieced together a new identity and healed my soul. I wouldn't have been here if I hadn't hit rock bottom.

Related Content

Facebook Comments