Don’t let a Google search define you. End of.

Well, not really otherwise this blog post wouldn’t be necessary. In the first of two blog posts, I wanted to talk about what happens when we Google our symptoms and why, sometimes, this is more of a hinderance than a help.

Being diagnosed with a mental health condition is tough

Being diagnosed with a mental health condition is tough enough without the added stress and horror of seeing what Dr Google has to say about it. When you first get diagnosed, you’ll be wanting to find out more about how this condition will affect you and really, what help is available. Google can be great for this but can also return searches like, for example:

  • ‘having anxiety is bad’
  • ‘having anxiety is a sin’

It’s sad that people searching for information about anxiety will see that ‘it’s bad’ and ‘it’s a sin’. I mean, living with anxiety can be bad but if you know how to handle it and have some coping strategies to hand, it’s liveable. I’d like to go as far as saying that having anxiety or in fact any mental health condition is not a ‘sin’. It’s not your fault and you haven’t done anything wrong. Whatever search you do in relation to your mental health, don’t let it define you. Don’t let Google dictate how you should feel about yourself and your condition.

I know when I was diagnosed with BPD, I was hungry for information so I could try to understand this thing that would now be a part of my life. Google returned results like ‘BPD is a heritable brain disease’ and ‘BPD is a disability’, neither sounded particularly positive. So I decided to scrap that and look on reputable sites for information. This was a much better strategy.

The search for answers

It’s exactly that, a search. But it’s better to be armed with the right information than the wrong stuff which can be really triggering. If you’ve been diagnosed with a mental health condition or think you might relate to one, here are a few tips to help you:

Visit reputable sites (such as Mind, the Mental Health Foundation and Rethink Mental Illness)

The information provided on these websites has been fact checked and double fact checked to ensure what is being said is correct. They’re also available for advice or if you have any questions. I contacted the Mind infoline (0300 123 3393) to ask for advice on speaking to my GP about my mental health and asked about any information they could give that would help. They were great and so knowledgeable.

There are lots of different opinions out there

With any blog or website run by someone with lived experience, it’s just that. Their experience. Like this is mainly my experience. They might have a good experience, for example, of seeing their GP and getting diagnosed. Similarly, they might have had an awful experience and want to speak openly and frankly about it. Just remember that everyone’s experiences are different which means yours will be too. Don’t be put off by things you read. Try to take them in, assess whether they’re helpful to you or actually, if they’re not.

Think positive (if you can)

You might have mixed feelings about being diagnosed but try not to let your Googling bring negativity to the table. It can become quite overwhelming and that’s not what you need. There are lots of blogs and websites out there that are positive and show what you can achieve with a mental health condition. It would be more beneficial for you to see what you could achieve rather than what happens if you let it drown you.

Regardless of what Google, personal blogs and websites say, your mental health condition is YOURS. You define what kind of experience you’ll have with it, not anyone outside of you.