To the Editor,
I will begin by acknowledging that Dupuy makes two valid points in his article “You Don’t Have an Anxiety Disorder (probably)”. He rightly addresses the points that; stress is not the same thing as an anxiety disorder and mental health is not adequately catered for on UCD’s campus.
However, despite the existence of a legitimate central thesis, the manner in which Dupuy presents his point is ultimately problematic. He states “every student who is claiming to have an anxiety disorder, here is a message to you, you don’t have one, stop claiming you do”. It was this sentence that prompted me to analyse the article in question with a harsher scrutiny. Dupuy’s tone is aggressive, condescending and ultimately out of place in a piece that seems at least partially invested in improving mental health in UCD.
It is the hostility that exists at points in Dupuy’s writing that I take issue with. Had he examined how stress can be a trigger for those suffering with anxiety disorders, or if he had explained the misconceptions of the perceived overlap between stress and anxiety, I would be writing a very different letter. Instead, his presentation perpetuates a new dimension of judgement towards those who live with anxiety. Not only is there cause to fear regular discrimination, the ramification of such a manner of thinking, is that the people who attempt to open up about their anxiety disorders will be regarded with suspicion, the legitimacy of their diagnosis questioned.
We should be building a platform for people to speak openly and without fear about struggles with mental health, we should be striving for an open and non-judgemental dialogue. However, if we continue to question the validity of those who wish to share their experiences, we are only moving further and further away from a positive attitude towards mental health.
With these points weighing on my mind, I was surprised by the sudden contradiction of Dupuy’s closing lines “with waiting lists…for the counselling service, it’s not like you’ll actually get to see someone to diagnose you anyways”. After his admonition of those claiming to have anxiety disorders without a diagnosis, he then quips that it’s extremely difficult to get one in the first place. While his statement serves as an odd contrast to his previous sentiments, I applaud Dupuy for recognising the fact that many people living with crippling anxiety disorders go undiagnosed for years due to a lack of access to counselling, adequate medical facilities and in part due to an off-putting stigma surrounding mental health.
I would like to reiterate that Dupuy’s article raised several very valid points. Stress and anxiety disorders are very different things. Mental Health facilities on campus need to be improved. However, I believe we need to approach this issue in a different way. Instead of scrutinising those who claim to suffer from anxiety disorders, we need to create an open dialogue. We need to reduce the harmful stigma. We need to leave the diagnoses to the professionals and mind our own affairs when it comes to somebody else’s mental health.
Aisling Mac Aree
Aisling MacAree – Features Editor