The Life You Save May Be Your Own

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“What it’s like to be…” January 8, 2013

Filed under: Uncategorized — weordmyndum @ 6:56 am
Tags: , , ,

I see a lot of posts that describe what it’s like to be a certain way–generally, in my corner of the Internet, what it’s like to live with a certain mental illness.

I always read them, hoping to find myself reflected so I feel less alone. But more and more, those posts frustrate me.

See, they claim to share the experience of living with a certain illness in the universal sense: what it’s like to live with BPD, depression, DID, PTSD. I read these experiences, and when I don’t recognize myself, I feel excluded. Because my experience of a particular diagnosis, I feel like I’m even doing mental illness wrong.

There is no wrong way to experience your illness or yourself.

Most psychiatric illnesses have a number of symptoms, and you only have to have a portion of them to get a diagnosis. That means there are many permutations of those symptoms that can appear in each person. You can share the same basic cluster of symptoms but totally different experiences. My BPD or depression or DID may appear totally different from yours. That doesn’t mean either of us is sicker or healthier, better or worse.

But posts that claim “this is what X mental illness is like” do a disservice to many fellow crazy folk. Somebody without experience with a particular illness may well read a post like that and assume that’s what that illness is like for everybody. It forced us into boxes we may not belong in or choose to be in.

I know the intent is good–to educate people about what it’s like. But it may do more harm than good. I have no problem with people saying, “This is my personal experience of this illness.” That’s awesome; people who haven’t dealt with mental illness often benefit from hearing our experience.

Just don’t claim to speak for everyone with your illness, please. You don’t.


15 Responses to ““What it’s like to be…””

  1. Lola Says:

    I know what you mean. In fact I have, just now, been asked a couple of questions along the lines of “how do people with BPD react to this or that” and I’m all like ‘gee, I don’t know, I am not “people” with BPD, I’m just one girl with BPD and it’s different for everyone’. So while I’m gonna reply to the questions, because I think genuine questions deserve genuine answers, I am in half a panic over the fact that others might assume I tried to answer on their behalf, when really, my answers are only true for myself and not everybody else. So I totally get where you come from.

    And from the other end, I also find it gives me a strange feeling when someone claims “this is what XYZ is like” and I have XYZ, too, yet don’t agree with the statements, because it’s different from how it is for me. I find that quite unsettling, in a way.

  2. I completely agree, I always think I’m doing things wrong when reading posts like that and thank you for showing me I’m not alone with this problem.
    How a mental illness affects someone is always different, since it’s a mental illness and not physical only it changes with the personality of the person, the life story, coping mechanism and etc. The same diagnosis can appear very different for different people but it looks like others forget that sometimes.

  3. Meagan Says:

    I’m glad you posted this. I had actually never considered what you said, but you’re right. My illness may not look the same as another person with the same illness. Very good point.

  4. i totally understand what you are saying. There are times when i’ve felt like a freak and thought, why arn’t my symptoms like that ? but you are right, we are all very different

  5. I have had people tell me I don’t have BPD because I had a good family or because I’m happy. It’s all very stupid.

  6. Pen Says:

    Oh god. I hope I haven’t done this. I only want to share *my* personal experiences and definitely don’t want to blanket them or generalize my diagnosis(es) to the populace.

    I agree with you, though I’m now feeling a bit paranoid. I may going through my blog a bit to make sure….>_>

  7. mm172001 Says:

    Reblogged this on Mm172001's Blog and commented:
    I just wanted to let my readers know that I don’t claim to identify my experiences with different diagnosis as “typical,” “average,” “normal,” or anything other than my experience with the different diagnosis. And since my symptoms “morph” as my psychiatrist states some symptoms may not directly relate to any or my diagnosed conditions.

  8. gypsy116 Says:

    Reblogged this on Pieces of Me.

  9. gypsy116 Says:

    I couldnt agree more. I have no problem with someone saying, in my experience this how x,y, or z feels, but I hate it when I here a Borderline is, or does, or will in a particular situation. Generally, no Im not, or dont, or wont, and all it does add to the stigma. Everyone is different. Everyone is there own unique person, regardless of diagnosis.

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