Oppositional Defiant Disorder Is NOT A Real Diagnosis

Oppositional Defiant Disorder Is NOT A Real Diagnosis

Stop trying putting labels on children.


When I was no older than 13, I had already had labels applied to me by the people who were supposed to be helping me. I was given the diagnosis of Bipolar Disorder Type II, Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), and Oppositional Defiant Disorder (ODD). Two out of those three were wrong. Can you guess which was right?

In case you don't know what those are, Bipolar Disorder Type II is a mood disorder in which one cycles between an extremely high mood (hypomania) and low moods (depression) (DSM V). These moods can last from a few days to months, but they don't happen in a single day.

My diagnosis should have been Borderline Personality Disorder which is "a pattern of instability in interpersonal relationships, self-image, and affects, and marked impulsivity" (DSM V).

ADHD is a chronic condition marked by persistent inattention, hyperactivity, and impulsivity (DSM V). This is the only accurate diagnosis given to me at the time. I take medication to help me with my attention problems. I am happy to say that for the first time in seven years, I am taking a lower dose of my primary ADHD pill.

ODD is a behavioral or defiance disorder defined by chronic aggression, frequent outbursts, and a tendency to ignore requests and purposely irritate others (DSM V). It's a fancy way of saying that your kid is a brat.

The thing that makes this diagnosis different from the other two is that there is nothing physiologically wrong with the brain. No chemicals or markers are consistently abnormal in children who have been tested.

You know, the funny thing about mental health disorders and diagnoses is that they never leave you. I will likely always carry those labels. And I despise them with every ounce of my being.

I would argue that the "diagnoses" put on children are worse than name-calling at school by their peers. They're both harmful labels. But the difference is that the diagnosis was applied by the professional. This is the person who is supposed to help you and make you feel better. You trust this person. You don't trust bullies when they call you names. You may be hurt, but you don't rely on the bullies emotional support. You know that they are just mean people.

How would like being told as a kid that you have a mental health disorder that makes you angry and vindictive and forces you to misbehave? I was so angry all the time because I was told that I had this mental illness that was synonymous with being a brat.

Every therapy session, every new psychiatrist, every hospitalization I was told this over and over again. So I started to believe I was a crappy, bratty kid. And I got depressed. It was incidentally at a hospital where I started cutting.

For most of my childhood, I was going in and out of therapy, hospitals, treatment programs, even homes. I would live with this family for a while and then that family, but I wasn't even in foster care. I was put on all sorts of medications.

Now, whenever a doctor asks me about previous hospitalizations and medications, I can't even begin to name them all. Not even my parents can. I'm not even a record of all of it exists.

Sooty (left), Pepper (right) Tori Renovitch

Before I was in middle school I was abusing my family's puppies. The two toy poodles in the picture above were named Sooty (left) and Pepper (right). They weighed no more than 10 pounds. I am ashamed to recall all the times I would kick, hit, and otherwise hurt them.

They were completely innocent and I hurt them on a regular basis when I got mad. The guilt I feel now is only somewhat veiled by the fact that I now love and pamper my current cat Simba. I have never laid an angry hand on him and give him only the best care and the healthiest food.

Even so, I frequently wonder what happened to Sooty and Pepper after we gave them up to another family. They must be very old now. I wonder if they are still alive or if my abuse lethally damaged their small bodies. I pray that they are happier now wherever they are.

I don't believe for a second that Oppositional Defiant Disorder is real. There is nothing wrong happening in the brain. According to the DSM V, it is a behavioral issue that results from "harsh, inconsistent, or neglectful" parenting. Why are we putting extra, unnecessary labels on children that will mark and follow them for their entire lives? They will grow up and mature and, with any luck, those behaviors will fade away.

My message to the medical community is to stop trying to put a label on every behavior. There is no reason to give a child that kind of diagnosis. ODD isn't a mental health problem that needs medication to be treated. It's a behavior problem that can be reversed through therapy and better parenting. There is no need for a label that will only create problems for the child in the future.

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Speaking As Someone Who Has Attempted It, Suicide Is NOT A Selfish Act

It's selfish to even think that suicide could be selfish.


Content warning: Suicide.

Recently a discussion was brought up in my Philosophy Morals and Ethics class that I can't seem to quit thinking about. The discussion was on suicide and one of the topics was whether or not the act is selfish or selfless.

A fellow student immediately spoke up and gave her argument for why she believed it was selfish. Including the idea that when one commits suicide, they are just passing on the pain to someone else who was affected by the death.

I immediately began to feel rage.

I understand her feelings were probably brought on because she was affected by someone else committing suicide and this was why she felt so strongly for her to speak on the subject. And as someone who has also been affected by someone else's suicide, I can understand her reasoning.

But speaking as someone who has been affected by my own suicidal thoughts and even attempts, I can't agree with her conclusion.

I've been thinking about this constantly for the past week and have been filled with so much discomfort that her reasoning was so small minded, it pissed me off. How could she sit there and say that it is selfish, of all things, if she hasn't experienced the excruciating pain of the constant battling with yourself over suicidal thoughts and depression?

I was so pissed that she would even be so selfish to say that suicide is selfish.

I began writing this as a "are you f***ing kidding me?!" article. But then my therapist's voice crept in and I was reminded to always consider all sides of all stories. I do not know if she has or has not dealt with her own suicidal thoughts. But if she truly had, could she really be able to just sit there and claim that it was selfish?!

Every single case of suicide and depression are entirely different. But personally, I believe that when someone attempts or commits suicide is because they deeply believe it is what is best for them, and others, and there is no other option. You believe that you are such a burden to those around you that you feel your death would better other's lives.

There is no talking to someone about it, there is no getting better, there is no other option. You are so consumed by the intense dark suffocating thoughts, that you can't see any form of light. You can't see that there is any other way out of the soul-sucking thoughts.

You see death as your only option out of it.

As I know now, that is not the case. There are ways out and you can get better. But that still doesn't make suicide selfish because the pain is passed on to someone else.

Merriam-Webster defines selfish as "seeking or concentrating on one's own advantage, pleasure, or well-being without regard for others," and a selfish act as "arising from concern with one's own welfare or advantage in disregard of others."

Seeking well-being for oneself without regard for others.

You can't label suicide as selfish because when you truly battle with it, you know the weight it bears down on you. It steals every last breath you find the strength to take.

You can't label suicide as selfish because, in it, you believe that you are a burden to others and the world would be better off without you in it.

You can't label suicide as selfish because you think that someone ended their own life to hurt those around them.

And it's even selfish of you to even think that you can label it as selfish.

Because if you can't stop to remove the blinding curtains from your own eyes to see how much pain they were in to think that suicide was their only option, for them to feel like they had no one and that they were no one, then that makes you selfish.

Not them.

Suicide is a very real topic and action. And I am not saying that I am an expert on the subject simply because I have stared it in the face and was even unsuccessful at meeting its need.

No, I am not an expert on suicide or depression, but as someone who has drowned in the same waters as about 1,400,000 other people, I feel the need for you to know that it isn't just as simple as black and white.

If you or someone you know is experiencing suicidal thoughts, call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline — 1-800-273-8255

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It's Been Three And A Half Years Since My Last Seizure, But I Am Still Terrified To Live Normally

Hi. I'm the girl who has seizures.


Hi. I'm the girl who has seizures.

That's probably a weird way to start an article, but a lot of the time that is what people see first. They see me as the one who has seizures. For a while, it was like it was my name. Sure, I had other identities, too. This one, however, stood out the most. I couldn't go a day without hearing the words- "Let's not have a seizure, ok." Or "Are you OK?" It truly sucked.

I didn't want to be the girl who was known for her seizures, but I was. I wanted people to see me first. Well, it has been almost three and a half years since my last seizure, and to put it simply- I'm terrified. I had my second seizure three years after my surgery. That's not necessarily what I'm terrified of, though.

I'm terrified of getting behind a wheel only to end up with a car turned over in the middle of the road. I'm terrified of hurting someone else because I got behind the wheel. I'm terrified of waking up in a hospital bed to be asked: "Do you know where you are?" Yes, I do. I'm very familiar with hospitals.

I'm terrified of being at concerts with strobe lights and blaring music. To the average person, that might sound dumb, but for me, it's a reality. I have to be so careful when it comes to flashing or bright lights. It can set a seizure off.

I'm terrified of insane time changes. For instance, I went into a 12-hour time difference, and while that's easy to deal with when it comes to switching your dosages, it's still scary.

I'm terrified of waking up one day to find out I had a seizure while I was sleeping, and now I'm completely confused by everything. That might not make sense, but you can't necessarily tell if you're having a seizure if you're sleeping. That is the scary part. Think about it. It is scary enough having a seizure while you are conscious, now imagine having one you don't even know happened. Scary, right?

Seizures are definitely terrifying, and the thought of having one at any time is even scarier. It's even scarier risking the life of someone else solely because you want to do something you are not supposed to. I want to drive, but due to my seizures - I shouldn't. I think about driving frequently, but it isn't worth the life of someone else.

I'm the girl who has seizures, and I'm terrified to do things because of it. I am constantly on edge about things even if I don't show it. I'm constantly hoping I don't have a seizure if I do this or that. I'm always on edge about previous events with my seizures. I think about them a lot. However, I'm thankful. Its been three and a half years since my last one. That's a big milestone.

I'm the girl who has seizures, but I'm not giving up.

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