Monique is a sixteen year old girl living in Louisiana. She is a writer, dancer, and actress who enjoys playing video games and learning about others. Her favorite subjects are English, History, and Science; she plans to attend college and get a PhD in a related field.
With psychiatric research and help becoming more popularized, it’s also becoming more accepted by people. While this is a great thing that gives people the opportunity to find the roots of their problems, it also brings in a new “teenage trend.”
This trend is the social belief that it’s “cool” and “hip” to have a psychological disorder. I would like to state that I do understand teenagers can have these disorders just like any other human being; however, a select group of teens diagnose themselves with these problems only to gain attention and to deal with other problems they face. But these teens don’t understand that psychological disorders are NOT a trend and are a serious issue that can lead to horrible consequences.
This is extremely irritating and very much insulting to people who actually have these disorders. It also creates an issue when teens that actually have psychological problems want to get help. Many parents are already closed-minded to the idea of psychiatric help and it is a huge blockade in the teen’s pathway to recovery. However, if their parents accept psychiatric help for their child, it’s still hard to get proper care because some psychiatrists may not take teens seriously and write it off as melodrama. I use to be outraged that a professional would ignore someone who came to them for guidance like I have heard, but once I started paying attention to some of the people around me I couldn’t blame them. While I don’t think it’s right that some treat their clients’ problems in a very condescending manner, almost as if it’s “teenage angst,” I understand that it’s not easy for them to differentiate between angst and actual problems anymore.
You will never really be able to tell the difference between the two. You can’t just assume because this girl is open about her disorder, or this guy posts pictures of his self injury that they’re contributing to the problem of people faking disorders. Humans have different ways of coping with their problems, and while stereotypically people who flaunt their problems are “fake,” it doesn’t mean they all are.
I firmly believe that pretending to have a disorder will eventually cause one. I don’t think of what teens call “attention seekers” in a negative way. I think the need for attention drives people to great lengths and should be classified as it’s own special disorder. Why? Because most likely something has happened to this person that makes them crave the attention, sympathy, or approval of their peers and family. They want this so badly that they will create a world inside their heads to achieve that. You know how sometimes you can keep telling yourself something in your head until it becomes true? Well, it’s the same concept: even though they do not start out with this disorder they will continuously tell themselves “be depressed,” “don’t eat,” “look sad,” “show your scars,” until they don’t have to tell themselves anymore and just do it. Ultimately, their “world” will become reality. Is this any better than starting off with an actual disorder though?
What irritates me personally is that it’s desired to have these disorders. It’s like we’re all glamorizing the ideas that there are problems inside some people’s brains that cause extremely serious and life threatening problems. No one really grasps the concept that having a disorder is a bad thing and you shouldn’t want one. I never hear anyone around school saying, “Life is good.” It’s always “life sucks,” or “I hate everything.” Being normal or happy is almost boring to some people, so they create something to make sure they aren’t “boring.”
How do we fix this problem? We can’t. The only way we can fix it is to either prevent self-diagnosis for disorders they don’t have or we go back to darker days when psychological problems were something to be ashamed of. Neither solution is probable. It all will start within each individual teen to figure themselves out and to stop pretending they’re something they’re not. There are people with actual problems in this world and I find it ridiculous that someone would want to mimic these problems for attention or vanity. Everyone gets a little upset, everyone feels ugly, and everyone has bad days. However, not everyone has a serious, long-term problem and our teenage society needs to realize that.
As parents, I beg you to make sure your child understands that disorders are not something to be considered “cool.” Make sure they know what these disorders are and what they can lead to. Don’t let them go down an uninformed pathway to self-destruction. Encourage happiness and positive behavior. Make sure they know that it’s better to be happy in life and positive than it is to be “messed up.”
***Parents: please note that some teens will make up disorders, but that doesn’t mean your child is. Make sure you treat your child as an individual. Talk to them and observe their behavior. Make sure they can trust you. Remember, not every child is faking it. Like I said, it’s only a select few.
Photo Credit: Cannonsnapper from Flickr