Alright so this is a big topic for me. A fellow author posted a link to a ridiculous quiz on Facebook that I feel the need to (and was asked to) write about.
I am going to take this quiz, step by step, and report exactly what I think about it. And after I will tell you why these quizzes aren’t just silly or stupid, but dangerous (with my anecdote evidence- reliable I know).
Alright, so when you click on the quiz, it starts off by saying, “Are you prone to dramatic and unpredictable mood-swings? What about anxiety and frustration? What’s your level of uniqueness? Find that all out right here.” Right off the bat I am annoyed. This perpetuates the stereotype that bipolar is sudden changes in mood. Going from happy to sad and back in a second. Unless you have extremely rapid-cycling bipolar, this is very unlikely. Bipolar is experienced in episodes. Generally meaning they have to last at least a few days. Although I do have little spikes of bipolar feelings, they aren’t full episodes and are mostly just annoying.
And for anxiety and frustration, yeah those can happen. I have anxiety that is sometimes correlated with my bipolar. But bipolar itself doesn’t specify that you need to have anxiety. Additionally, “frustration?” Really? Who doesn’t experience that? And lastly- “What’s your level of uniqueness?” That makes me want to hit my face on my keyboard. Being bipolar is unique in a sense, because a small amount of the population experiences it. But in this context it is taken in a positive way. In the United States we have a culture where individualism and self-expression is very important. If you’re unique, then it’s usually considered a good thing. But as far as I’m concerned, bipolar is not a good thing.
And then, of course, it adds that this should be used as a diagnostic test. And I’ll explain later why that really doesn’t matter.
Alright, here we go. First question asks, “Do you feel that people control your thoughts?” You can choose, yes, no, or not sure.
Okay, I’m sorry, but I thought we were talking about bipolar. Just bipolar. Not bipolar with psychotic symptoms. And not schizoaffective disorder (which is a combination of bipolar and schizophrenia- ouch). This question in no way indicates whether you have bipolar disorder or not. My answer is no.
Next question, “Do you feel rested and full of energy even when you get a lot less sleep than the usual?” Well now, this is a symptom of bipolar- hypomania and mania specifically. Yes, sometimes you will sleep a lot less than normal and feel just as full of energy. But this doesn’t mean you’re bipolar. I think everyone has had an experience where they sleep just a few hours then wake up and feel refreshed. It has more to do with what stage of sleep you’re in when you wake up. So someone who is manic might say yes to this. But I have a very atypical mania. I will sleep long hours and still wake up feeling kind of groggy. It doesn’t mean I’m not manic. It just means I don’t have the usual symptom of not sleeping for days (although I have done that before too- but trust me, I did NOT feel rested. I felt wired, like I couldn’t stop, it was incredibly scary). My answer for this one is really, “sometimes” but since it is not an option I think I’ll just put “not sure.”
Next question, “How often do you wish you were an animal?”
Wha…. what? What? Sorry, but what? I can’t even fathom why this is a question. But you know what the sad part is? Between the three answers- never, rarely, and sometimes, my answer is definitely sometimes. But it has nothing to do with being bipolar. I have two cats. And honestly? I envy them. They get to sleep whenever, they get to play whenever they want, they have a loving home, they are fed and have access to water, they have the highest medical care, they are loved immensely. The hardest part of their life is when they’re alone (for some) or when they have to go to the vet. Why wouldn’t I want to be an animal- specifically a cat? Why wouldn’t I trade this broken human body for that of a healthy kitten? I have one laying next to me as I type this, sleeping peacefully. I want that. But you know what I’d never do? I’d never trade. I would never force an animal to give up its peaceful life to live the hell that is mine. So the answer is sometimes. But does that make me bipolar, no.
Next- “How often do you worry about the unknown?” Okay this is more an anxiety based question. A lot of bipolars experience anxiety but I would never use this on a real scale to determine if a person is bipolar or not. But guess what- I do have anxiety, I do worry a lot about the “unknown.” I’m 21 years old, I took a quarter off from school and just quit my job. I am uncertain if I’ll get into medical school to be a psychiatrist. Let alone get into a grad school to become a psychologist if med school falls through. I think my fear of the unknown is perfectly justified even without anxiety and without bipolar. Answer- Sometimes.
“How many shades of red are in this picture?”
…. You know. If you were colorblind, this would be a horrible question. Wait a second, it is a horrible question even if you’re not colorblind. I don’t even know what this is trying to prove. My potential answer choices- More than 10, less than 10, none. Well, I guess if you are colorblind you have an option that would work for you. I’m going to go with less than 10, but really this is just an unbelievably bad question. Are you trying to measure my artistic side? (Since bipolars are known to be more “artistically incline?”). I just… I don’t get it.
“What does this blot look like?”
This is an outdated test- the Rorschach test to be specific. I’ll be honest, it looks like sex organs- the uterine horns to be specific. And that is one of the answers. But really I don’t see how it could look like any of the others. You can also answer that it looks like nothing listed. This is just stupid.
Okay this question is interesting, “Can you find the two girls in the above football pattern?” And it has an image of the pattern you’d find on a standard black & white soccer ball. I think its trying to test if I’m hallucinating or seeing patterns where none exists or something. But I’m bipolar and I’ve never had full blown psychotic symptoms. Even if I was psychotic, I doubt prompting me to see something that’s not there will cause me to see it.
“In your opinion, which of the four creatures is the most intimidating?” Uhhh well if I had to be honest, the most intimidating thing I see is that this quiz is actually judging your bipolar. You can choose any of the four, or say they are equally intimidating, or say none are intimidating. Well frankly, I think they’re kinda cute so I’ll say none.
“Do people treat you unfairly because they are jealous of your special ability?” Uhhhh what special ability? You mean my special ability to be able to talk and rant on for hours without stopping? Well really, people are definitely not jealous of that. I have had people weirdly romanticize my bipolar disorder though, but I’m just going to answer no.
“Can you predict the future?” I can predict the outcomes of this quiz, does that count? Or what about if I hold a pencil up and say, “If I let go of this pencil, it will fall to the ground.” And then it does fall to the ground, does that mean I predicted the future, or just that I have a very basic understanding of physics?
But in other words- no.
“Can you find the 3 hearts in the above pattern?” There are no hearts. Stop this.
“In your opinion, how disturbing is the above child drawing?” Someone please make this quiz stop. Like maybe it is disturbing… but that doesn’t mean you’re bipolar. It is more weird than anything. I’ll give it a 2 out of the 1-6 rating. So not very disturbing to me.
“What is your greatest fear?” Okay how does this relate to bipolar…? Now I have to pick between failure and loneliness. Both of which are equally frightening. I think I’ll go with loneliness. Because if I fail, then I’ll at least have companionship to help me through it. I mean failure is one of my biggest fears. But failing has never sent me to the ER with a sliced open wrist- loneliness has.
And for my results!
I got a 0%. Wait what really? I thought some of my answers might indicate a little bipolar. Is this one of those tests that only gives you a 0% or 100% result?
Holy crap that was awful. I mean I’ve taken some of those online questionnaires but I have honestly never experienced a quiz so far off base and bizarre as this one. I won’t even bother with the bull crap it says about how I am- “strong inspiration skills” and what not. I roll my eyes.
In any case, I want to explain something. A topic that really bothers me. This will take a detour from the quiz for a bit, but bear with me, we’ll get back to it.
In the last half decade or more, there has been a massive uprising of online communities devoted to mental illness. And this is fine in some circumstances, like the ones that help you recover or get through hard times, or even this blog. But there are also very messed up ones. There are “pro-ana” websites which encourage people to engage in anorexic behaviors by showing unhealthily thin women and give advice. Stuff like that. I first found these communities through a phone app called Instagram. I was very (mentally) sick back then and I would browse these posts and look at the accounts in utter horror. From what I could tell, the VAST majority of the posters were between the ages of 12-16. Which is disturbing in of itself. And additionally, they would claim they had a million different disorders. I mean nearly every one of these would say they had (in their bio descriptions), “ana, mia, cat, deb, sue, and bri.” These are codenames they came up for mental illness. Respectfully they are: anorexia, bulimia, self-harm, depression, suicidal, and bipolar.” Some people would use these abbreviations and others wouldn’t. But practically everyone was an anorexic, self-harming, depressed person.
They would also have in their descriptions things like “Days since last self-harm: 0” and when I say 0 I mean it was always 0. Of all the HOURS I spent analyzing and obsessing over these accounts, I only saw one person with a number other than zero. Oh, and they’d post how many suicide attempts they had made. The highest I saw was somewhere in the 20’s. I’m sorry, this is rude, but I honestly can’t help but wonder how you can fail so many times? Suicide isn’t as easy to complete as many people think (“Oh it’d be so easy!” No.), but I think you would figure it out by the 20th time. Additionally, they would post things like what their current weight was, what their weight goals were, and then their dream weight.
They would post pictures of very thin girls and post pictures of self-harm (their own and others). They would post pictures of their bodies and complain they were fat. My favorite example of how blatantly disturbing this community was is when a girl first posted a picture saying, “If we do it for attention, then why do we try so hard to hide it?” In reference to self harm. Her next post was, “If I get X amount of followers, I will stop burning myself.”
Um. Please tell me I’m not the only one who sees how that is so hypocritical? I have a private and anonymous blog where I vent and talk about all my problems, but I do NOT post pictures of my self-harm. And I most definitely do not tell people to follow me or else I will continue to hurt myself. That is seriously disturbing.
So this is just an example of what the community is like. It got a lot better, Instagram cracked down on it hard. Deleting photos of self-harm. Deleting accounts that were blatantly unhealthy. But a community still exists, people still post depressing photos and self-harm and thinspo (pictures of really thin girls that anorexics admire). The community is really sick. It goes outside of Instagram too, like on blogging websites, but Instagram is the worst I’ve seen.
But one of the things that disturbed me most was the excessive amount of self-diagnosing. These teenagers were not seeking help. This was very clear. But one of the things they did do (getting back to the quiz part here) was they’d take online quizzes. I would see all too many times the teenager posting their quiz results and making a sad emoticon saying, “Well I guess I have [insert disorder here] as well.” It was always ironic to me though. Because there was one popular quiz that tested for a multitude of disorders, a variety of schizo- type disorders. But it also tested for things like bipolar, depression, etc. And it was weird to me that no matter how many of these quiz results I saw, the person always tested in the “extremely high” category for EACH disorder (meaning it was very likely they had the disorder). This baffled me, because a lot of these disorders conflict, like you wouldn’t say you have that AND that. For example, there were a lot of people who would say they had depression and bipolar. And if you know anything about bipolar, you know that bipolar people have depressive episodes so it is pretty much implied that you have depression. You don’t need to repeat it, it is redundant. But also, when they had these results, they wouldn’t say they had all of them, they would literally pick certain ones and said they had that, and ignored the others. What?
Please don’t try to argue that there is no romanticization going on in this community.
But I was so obsessed with this community, so baffled and disgusted and intrigued, that I would actually put legitimate time into studying these people. I went through numerous accounts which reported they were bipolar, and I would look for any post, any word, any hashtag, ANYTHING that would mention mania or hypomania or even a mixed state. I never saw those words mentioned. Ever. I think it is a little odd for a bipolar person to never mention manic or hypomanic symptoms.
But I guess, you know, the quiz said they were bipolar.
All in all, these quizzes are, in my opinion, very dangerous. This one I took is just plain ridiculous and doesn’t even come close to any accuracy. But even the ones that do have some validity to them are so easy to bias that you can easily get whatever result you want. This is why I can’t take diagnostic tests (not even the MMPI-2) because I know how to bias them. I know how to get specific results. These online quizzes that are supposed to give you an idea of whether you are something or not, they are just too easy to bias. And the results can be so misleading. They say they do not replace a professional’s opinion, but I guess to some teenagers it’s good enough.
The quiz I took today and reported in this article isn’t just ridiculous though. It is incredibly misleading. And more than that- it’s a MOCKERY to people with bipolar disorder. The way it words it- “uniqueness”- and the questions themselves make a bipolar diagnosis out to be some kinda weird joke. I don’t know if that person who made it had any clue what bipolar disorder is, if they made that just to make fun of bipolar people, or what. All I know is that it is actually pretty offensive.
Online quizzes do NOT replace professional opinions- EVER. I understand that misdiagnosis is common but we have to understand that even doctor’s make mistakes. And mental disorders are such incredibly difficult things to diagnose, that we need to give them some slack. But I know that if you seek help from a professional, and then make an effort to find one who is good and knows what they are doing and connects well with you, you will be better off than sitting at home taking stupid online quizzes to diagnose yourself.
Seriously, when I was a teenager and I had an ounce of wondering if I might be depressed, I took an online quiz and it said I was. But I blew it off, I said it was ridiculous, easy to bias, and that it didn’t mean anything.
I knew as a teenager that these online quizzes meant nothing.
But today’s teenagers? I don’t think they know that.
And you can’t tell me that’s not dangerous.