The ‘Autism Test’ or Rather, Why It’s Bullshit
How Our Plight for Less Labels and More Treatment Is Hindered
Here’s an amusing game, let’s Google symptoms of cancer, or perhaps our likelihood of contracting Ebola. Oh! and how could I forget motor neurone disease?
Right, before you label me a sadist or callous, although the latter is probably true, what is it that all of the above have in common? An easy question to answer; they are all recognised medical conditions. So, why is it that psychological illnesses have dedicated webpages, luring members of the public to take the ‘what is your mental disorder?’ quiz for ‘entertainment purposes only.’ Christ, I can see it now, an antediluvian arsehole sat in a dark room leaning towards the blue light emitting from his PC, chortling at his newest plan to capitalise on the stigma surrounding poor mental health. The last time I went on Buzzfeed, I was finding out what Disney princess I would be; nowadays crippling disorders are labelled as entertainment. Yet, here’s the truly unbelievable thing... morbid misanthropes actually use these things!
Let’s just set the scene, it’s a meal at a restaurant with the ‘in-laws’, all is going well, except I must have missed the invite for the ‘who can have the most conceited opinion’ game. As the next topic of conversation is, “HAHA I found out that I’m heavily autistic today, I used an online test, it’s dead funny.” Everybody seemed to find the comment somewhat amusing and not in the slightest controversial. I grimaced at the end of the table, the clock in my head ‘tick,’ ‘tick,’ ‘tick’-ing, counting the seconds. My fists clenched around my knife and fork. My face knotted incessantly. The only noise I could hear was ringing in my ears, the clinking of glassware and faint casual conversation around me. As each second passed, anger swelled in my throat and I had less chance to succumb to the overwhelming urge to tell the woman (‘the woman’ being my mother in law) that she sounded like an uneducated bigot.
Okay, so I may have been slightly hyperbolic when describing my reaction to the comment, and any seething insult I had was quelled by a sharp kick to the shin from under the table by my partner. However, I don’t doubt for a second that the others around the table would have been just as appalled if the comment was made about a physical illness such as cancer.
Other than the downright abhorrent nature of taking a quiz to ‘measure whether you have a mental disorder,’ such methods of ‘entertainment’ disgust me as they’re insulting to those who struggle daily with debilitating conditions such as bipolar, autism or generally poor mental health. People with mental health disorders will have been dragged through the very pits of hell just in order to receive their diagnosis, never mind treatment.
I bet that’s actually what hell is. If the Catholics thought their lake of fire was bad, try the perpetual cycle of probing, being disregarded and pushed to the back of a ‘queue’ that comes with working your way through the mental health services in desperate hope of some relief from what now feels like a numb, cold, rock in place of your brain inside your head. Murderers, felons, robbers, all dressed in white with smiley face pins next to their chest attached to their pristine tunics, the corners of their mouths contorted into a broad grin. “Have you been taking your medication?” “How was your day today?” “Oh, you’re not having suicidal thoughts anymore? You’re not struggling, back of the queue you go!” A relentless and arduous cycle that satirises hell. All for a diagnosis, a label that holds an ephemeral hope of recovery, when in actual fact what is schizophrenia? Autism? Dissociative Personality Disorder? Words. Lexis that can be broken into morphemes. Shapes on a page.
“HAHA I found out that I’m heavily autistic today.”