• Mon, Dec 9 - 2:30 pm ET

According To The Internet, I’m Depressed

tumblr_mvwob7wo2M1sl67cyo1_500Yesterday, my colleague Frances Locke wrote an article about what not to say to a depressed mom. I’ve never identified myself as someone who is depressed. I’m starting to rethink that.

As evidenced by the amount of comments coming in – a lot of people were relating to the article. So I started to read them. One in particular struck me. I followed the link that was provided – and ended up down a rabbit hole which led me to the blog, Hyperbole and a Half, which led me to these paragraphs:

The beginning of my depression had been nothing but feelings, so the emotional deadening that followed was a welcome relief.  I had always wanted to not give a fuck about anything. I viewed feelings as a weakness — annoying obstacles on my quest for total power over myself. And I finally didn’t have to feel them anymore.

But my experiences slowly flattened and blended together until it became obvious that there’s a huge difference between not giving a fuck and not being able to give a fuck. Cognitively, you might know that different things are happening to you, but they don’t feel very different.

I thought about these paragraphs for a long time. Then – I thought about how many times I’ve said the words “I don’t care” either out loud or in my head over the last few months. The answer is – a lot.

“I don’t care” can be helpful. It can save your sanity when people attack you on the Internet – which, when you make your living putting words there happens a lot. It can rescue you from the torment of perfection when your house isn’t as clean as it should be. “I don’t care” can be empowering – until it isn’t anymore. Until you realize it’s become an auto-response, like “really” or “what?” Until you have to really take a minute to think about when you stopped caring – and you’re not sure what the answer is.

So I went even deeper down the rabbit hole and Googled “Am I depressed quiz.” I took about 10 of them – but each said the same thing. Yes. Yes, dumbass – you’re depressed. And not just mildly or mild to severely – every result was basically saying, Get help right now, lady. 

According to the Internet I’m depressed. This is why you should never use the Internet to diagnose anything.

(photo: Tumblr)

You can reach this post's author, Maria Guido, on twitter.
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  • Alexandra

    Oh wow yes I used to love Hyperbole and a Half, I feel so bad for her :(
    Side note – read the other blog posts most of them are hysterically funny.

  • keelhaulrose

    Once my husband had to take an on-line test for a psychology class. One of the questionnaires was entitled “Are you an alcoholic?” According to that site he totally is, because when he drinks he has three or four (or more) because he’s a big guy and three or four for him is like one or two for us mortals, and also because he said he associates a place with drinking (a bar, surprisingly enough) and another place with liquor (the liquor store).

    He found out the next day the point of the assignment was to show you can’t trust jack shit on the internet, and yet people use it as a diagnosing tool all the time.

    • AP

      Remember that episode of The Office, where Michael Scott tries to have an intervention for Meredith’s alcoholism using a diagnostic checklist from the internet…and the fourth question is, “Is your alcohol use making you question the teachings of Joseph Smith and the Mormon Church?”

    • Bethany Ramos

      Hilarious!

  • EX

    Maria, I agree that you should not trust that kind of information off the internet. However, if YOU think you are depressed you should look into talking to someone. Your primary care doctor can be a good place to start. I wish you the best of luck.

  • SusannahJoy

    I dunno, it seems like those quizzes always say you are whatever they’re quizzing you for. My own experience with depression was interesting though. I knew I was depressed. But I didn’t think it was that big of a deal, because seriously, who’s actually happy all the time? And then I got better, and it reminded me of the first time I put on glasses and realized that holy crap! You can actually see trees on the mountains! I was happy for the first time, and it was so amazing, and made me so sad that I was so sad for so long.

  • pixie

    I know a good number of people who google symptoms they’re experiencing and self-diagnose everything from anxiety to lupus. Whenever someone I know mentions they think they have whatever it is they found that matches their symptoms, I ask if they’ve gone to speak to a doctor. Nine times out of ten I get looked at like I’m some sort of crazy person for suggesting they see a doctor if they’re really worried about their mental/physical health. And nine times out of ten with the ones that do go to the doctor have to be repeatedly convinced that no, they’re not terminally ill, or no they are not suffering from whichever mental health issue they thing they are. Looking symptoms up on the internet is not always a good thing. It’s a dark and scary place, especially when so many things have very similar symptoms. My advice to people who do look up symptoms (whether they be mental health or physical health related), tread with caution and always confirm with a doctor (get a second opinion, even, if you feel necessary).
    One of my great-great aunts was a huge hypochondriac (wayy before the invention of the internet) and although she lived to be 98, she was convinced she was never healthy a day in her life. I try to avoid self-diagnosis/internet diagnosis because I have no idea if hypochondriasis can be passed down through families like some other mental health issues can be.

  • CrazyLogic

    When I had depression, it was due to a feeling of apathy, not sadness like most people assume all depression is.

    The difference between simply not giving a shit and that not giving a shit being depression is when that not giving a shit effects your everyday life. When not giving a shit hinders your ability to do -anything- other than sit in bed and do nothing, then it’s depression.

    At least that’s how it was explained to me in layman’s terms. So yeah, that quotes paragraph nailed it. It wasn’t that I didn’t give a shit about anything, it was that I didn’t have the energy or willpower to. I actually welcomed my anxiety coming back because it meant I was feeling -something-.

    Although the difference here wasn’t that the internet decided it. My family became concerned about my change in behavior and took me to see a professional.

    • http://fairlyoddmedia.com/ Frances Locke

      I totally agree about depression being more apathetic than “Sad,” at least for me (I’m sure it’s different for everyone). I’m a total type A personality when I’m not having an “episode” (for lack of a better word at this moment), a complete perfectionist. When the depression is kicking in hard, however, I seriously DGAF about almost anything. It takes all my energy to work and take care of the kids, so everything else that I love to do (reading, jogging, playing around with makeup, painting, etc) falls to the side until the “episode” is over. Sometimes it feels like such an effort to even get out of the damn bed and take a shower, lol.

    • CrazyLogic

      Sounds like my brand. It’s harder to notice anything is wrong for me, it’s always someone else pointing it out because I’m normally very passionate about everything I come across.

    • NeedsImprovement

      Because my dad had abused psychiatric drugs for thirty or so years at this point, my mom was understandably concerned when a psychiatrist in high school wanted to put me on medication. I will never forget how he put it, because it seems so appropriate. He said that medication won’t make me happy – it will give me the choice to be happy or not. I thought that definitely clicked in with your theory, and it rings very true for me.

    • CrazyLogic

      Well less of a theory and more what my shrink told me when I said I didn’t think I was depressed because I wasn’t sad. Just tired.

    • Tea

      Your depression sounds like mine. I don’t get sad, I get hopeless and decide it’s hopeless and stop trying, and being able to get to work or do anything, even fun things, feels pointless and impossible. I don’t really get “sad”, maybe a resigned “Fuck it all” but mostly it just feels tired. I could easily sleep for days and never leave bed.

      My partner is awesome, he tends to notice this before I do and I work on getting back on a hard schedule and taking my supplements, since deficiencies affect me quite severely (Damned intersexed albino anemic brokengenes.)

    • CrazyLogic

      Yup, that about sums it up for me. Also emphasizes why it’s important to see a doctor, because everyone is different…and some people just DGAF by default. Other people are just solemn.

      No way a simple internet quiz is going to be able to tell that.

  • http://fairlyoddmedia.com/ Frances Locke

    While I think it’s never good to try to self-diagnose online (according to WebMD I have Ebola right now), I do think that some of those sites can be useful in order to stay self-aware. Doctor Internet can be a huge mind-fuck though.

    Also, that Hyperbole and a Half comic about depression was one of the most profound and touching things I’ve read on the subject. It described how I’ve felt for most of my life perfectly. I think Allie Brosh is really brave (as well as super talented and hilarious).

  • http://www.benwhoski.com/ Benwhoski

    I think the important test is asking oneself “Are these behaviors interfering with my life?”

    Pretty much everybody exhibits the behaviors associated with most mental illnesses to some degree. It becomes a “disorder” when it significantly interferes with their daily functions.

    There’s a difference (though admittedly, sometimes the line is fine enough that you don’t realize when you’ve crossed it) between when you have a few days where you’re down, don’t want to do much, etc and when you have significant stretches of time where getting out of bed is an absolute, kicking-and-screaming fight with your brain.