A Cautionary Tale of Self-Diagnosis
The introduction of websites which offer health advice (such as WebMD and the many others) have been a curse and a blessing. On one hand, it helps people to admit and recognize there may be an issue with their physical or mental well-being but, on the other hand, it can be dangerous to self-diagnose.
How many times have you visited on of these health sites and immediately thought you were in grave danger just to find out it wasn’t so?
I noticed something was turning from bad to worse when I had inadvertently self-diagnosed myself with a form of anxiety and decided to “handle it” through what I felt would work versus spending the money to see a doctor. In short: I turned to drinking to calm my nerves rather than doing the appropriate lifestyle changes and medications which are the right thing to do.
The right way to go about handling the anxiety I had been facing turned to be the following:
· Eliminate vices (such as smoking which caused higher blood pressure)
· Begin taking BP medications (which reduced the triggers for anxiety)
· Develop better sleeping habits (resulting in remaining calm)
Unfortunately I had taken an easier path which lasted for nearly two years before a major incident which sent me to the ER (resulting in big bills and a confirmation that “Yes, it’s just anxiety, you’re not having a heart attack” which is all too common for anxiety sufferers).
What did I do?
· I would often drink to calm my nerves
· I would skip the occasional meal so the alcohol would “hit harder”
· I found myself eating junk because I began to be buzzed
· I vomited, frequently, because of the interactions with the alcohol
This wasn’t who I was and I knew it needed to be changed so I went ahead and did a search for drug rehab for women. I knew I needed to get this nipped in the bud before it got worse because I felt it becoming less of a way to handle the anxiety and more part of my being – I didn’t want to go down this road and become someone that was an uncontrollable addict.
Some individuals are able to kick the addiction and habits on their own. It’s wonderful when people have the will power to overcome the issues and fight through the struggles. Unfortunately that wasn’t so much the case on my end because what was a way to handle anxiety was starting to form into a nasty habit that teetered on exploration (i.e. harder substances).
I never really believe in the whole “gateway” drug idea until I noticed it happening:
· Beers turned into regular consumption of hard alcohol
· Hard alcohol turned into brash decisions at parties
· Brash decisions turned into hard drugs because “why not?”
· Rinse & repeat
I couldn’t believe where I was, all thanks to the fact that I had self-diagnosed my issues rather than spending the money to see a doctor and owning up to my issues. I allowed the vices to take over, and enjoyed that I was no longer in control, which is exactly what they mean when you’re addicted – you only know that lifestyle now.
It had to change. Cold turkey, easing off, and rehab may take a few times in order for it to really sink in.
The best piece of advice that allowed it to stick wasn’t focused around doing it for your loved ones. The advice was about being self-centered and selfish; this sounds odd but as they say “you have to do it for yourself.” I had to know, without a doubt, I was ready to quit and accept help. I had to be selfish in my decision in the sense that I was placing myself first, otherwise I was using relationships as a crutch and not identifying the real problem which was myself.
I’m not going to glorify the wild times when things were rough nor am I expecting sympathy and care for something I know I should have taken control over well before it had control over me. I will, however, tell you to be cautious when it comes to self-diagnosing your problems; it can get out of hand and there is no substitute for professional guidance. Hopefully you’re reading this at a point where you can nip the issues before they form or you’re sober enough to take action. All I can say is best of luck.