Self Diagnosis via the Internet

Funny how deep discussions can be had via texting or chat with my teen DJ. A joking comment on her status will turn into a situation where Moe definitely needs to get involved.

Take last night, for example. She came home in a great mood. We joked, we screwed around teasing her, and DJ went to her room to work on some things before bed. She logged onto her computer – and I saw her pop online with chat. Her status was simply "sigh…."

"Are you being all emo now, sighing about the world affairs?"

That smart ass remark revealed that DJ was holding back some stress, some fear, some anxiety that maybe something was wrong with her. You see, months and months ago when she was getting to know someone she had met at an event, they were chatting. Her friend commented about a quirk she had when DJ responded in like with a quirk she had. Kind of a "everyone is weird, don’t worry about it" gesture.

Her friend replied with a link – and a message "OMG, you have this!"

I won’t go into the internet diagnosis as it was an obscure thing that was the equivalent of doing a webmd search on a skin rash only to find out you have cancer.

After some back and forth on chat and realizing that she wasn’t joking but sincerely scared, I went to her room and knocked on the door. She didn’t want to let me in until I pointed out I can and will let myself in. I was greeted by a teen in tears. She was genuinely afraid.

So I pulled her onto her bed into a huge hug. And we talked. She told me what really makes her worried is that, as chance would have it, a good friend of hers recently confided that she was legitimately diagnosed with said issue. A strange and weird coincidence that seemed to make DJ feel like maybe she wasn’t worrying enough.

As she cried letting go of her anxiety and worry, I pointed out some important things. The first – no one should self diagnose with the internet. Don’t believe it – seriously – it will just make you crazy with worry about a shitload of things you should not worry about.

Then I told her how much I love she is her own person. That she is quirky and weird and self aware and self assured. How much I love that she marches to her own drummer – doing taekwondo and Ranger training, but still dressing up and going to do cosplay. I told her that I am proud at how much she cares and worries about her friends. How she freely gives hugs. And she freely shares who she is with them. I praised her for knowing herself enough and being brave enough to explain to people she is no straight – she is pansexual – and educates people on what that is.

And most importantly, I told her I will always know if something is wrong. I will always know if she is not telling me the truth (she is a bad poker player like I am). And if I think something is wrong – I would tell her – just like I did last night when I came to her, made her open the door, and got her to talk.

She hugged me tightly – cry some more, then laughing when something I said triggered a conversation at school that day. I made her promise not to believe the internet – not be put too much stock in well meaning friends who are helping by using webmd or some other internet resource. And to just be who she is and know we all have quirks – and they don’t always mean there is a diagnosis needed for them.

While we had already told them to never believe what they read on the internet, it’s interesting how that lesson changes where friends are involved.

What do you think?