Recently there’s been some talk in my little corner of the blogosphere about people claiming certain mental illnesses are fake. Bourbon wrote a post responding to another blogger who claims that, because her DID was therapist-induced, all DID is iatrogenic. In response, Pride in Madness wrote about her experience of others’ denial of her experience of both DID and depression.
I’ve dealt with people claiming both my DID and my depression are fake. Both suck, but they suck differently.
With DID, deniers generally make a blanket claim that DID doesn’t exist. Generally people making these accusations claim sympathy for the “victims,” those pitiable people duped into thinking they have multiple personalities by therapists who are inept or unscrupulous or both. We need to be rescued by those who know better, who know all about how false we are.
With depression, the deniers I’ve run into haven’t claimed that depression doesn’t exist. Instead, they claim that I have no right/reason to be depressed and that if I’d just whistle a happy tune and pull myself up by my bootstraps, I wouldn’t be depressed anymore. The implication is that depression is something I am willfully creating and continuing.
These seem like two very different attitudes, but the underlying motivations aren’t. In both cases, there’s hostility directed toward people who are suffering.
My theory is that these people can’t admit to themselves that they are in pain. The pain of being human, just under the surface, is so deep and overwhelming and frightening that they deny it. Because they can’t bear to recognize it in themselves, they can’t beat to recognize it in others, either. So they attack us.
I try to have compassion for these people, but a lot of days my flak jacket just isn’t thick enough to risk it. For now, I’ll just try to avoid them.