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the fragility of pesonhood

Twice in the past week, friends of mine have discussed serious troubles with their mental wellbeing, most notably the sense of not being a real person.  As I said to one of them, I wish I didn't understand what they meant as well as I do.  Apart from small leakages of selfhood through all my damage, physical and psychological, I have not truly felt like a real person for about four years, and I was having at least some difficulty with it on and off for about two years or so prior.

For me, it began slowly with an increased realization of the impressions left by other people on my psyche.  I don't know how to explain it without sounding like a froufrou mystic or schizophrenic, but I became increasingly aware that bits of others' personalities would become imprinted in my mind.  It seems almost like my mind downloads packets, and so increased interaction, proximity, and contact with individuals will increase the that person's partition in my brain.  Over time, this tendency seemed to become more and more prominent, such that I gradually began to question whether there was really a "me" underneath all the others in my mind.  For a long time, I managed this fairly well, keeping things fairly tidy and even managing conversations between the different psyches overlapping my own.

Sometime in late 2003, however, my health started taking a nosedive and finally crashed in spring 2004.  During this time, I became increasingly confused and less able to separate the jumbled voices in my mind.  This is also when the pervasive chronic fatigue and chronic pain I've been experiencing since made my body its home, decreasing my ability to cope with life significantly.  It's the chronic physical illness which has really cemented my lacking sense of personhood.  I've had a diminished sense of individuality for a long time, but being chronically ill for several years makes it very difficult to think that I am a person with a disease instead of simply being the disease itself; I tend to see myself as a problem to be eliminated, not as a person with a problem that needs to be cured.  I have to actively remind myself that the latter is true as motivation to keep doing the things I need to do to hopefully get the medical and psychiatric attention I need.

On the plus side for me, my Primary Adult Care benefits are registered to operate through Jai and set to begin next week.  Today I set an appointment to see a councilor a couple weeks from now, pending verification by the office that my benefits will cover the visit, and the councilor will then decide whether I also require psychiatric care.  I believe they'll recommend me for psychiatric care, and I'll certainly accept a visit—which is free anyway—but I'd rather tackle the medical angle before accepting psychiatric drugs, since I know that's the single biggest factor effecting my mental health.  On the other hand, PAC includes a program of free and/or heavily discounted pharmaceutical care (copays under $10 for out-of-network care), so I'll accept whatever prescriptions, check for effects, and see how I feel about actually taking them.

I certainly would like to feel less anxious all the time, and anything anyone can do to help me feel more like a person again would be welcome.

Comments

( 4 comments — Leave a comment )
podisodd
Nov. 5th, 2009 06:50 pm (UTC)
Dealing with chronic pain and health maladies wears away at the psyche. Some people say suffering strengthens the soul, but that always seemed like a slippery slope to me. You may find yourself feeling more like a person once your physical health stabilizes. If you do go on psychoactive medicine, be sure to get a full rundown of possible side effects. And for what it's worth, I don't always feel like a real person either; however, the causes are different in my case.
aekiy
Nov. 9th, 2009 11:26 am (UTC)
Thanks. I certainly agree that, while surviving trials can strengthen one, this is hardly the rule, especially in a case where the troubles are ongoing. I'll definitely be cautious about medication, as I don't like the idea of taking it generally, especially given how fragile my brain is these days; but if there is something that can help me without causing terrible side effects, I'm at the point where I need something material for support.

I had figured that it was more than just myself and two of my friends who have experienced those feelings, which is why I decided to make a public entry about it. It's the sort of thing it's too easy not to discuss, and for me at least, the sensation itself makes me feel terrible and not want to poison the world with my problems—it's the sort of thing that, by its nature, makes me not want to talk about it. The fact that it's only been discussed in private makes me think I'm not alone there, and I guess I wanted to show people that this is a real thing others experience and to reach others who experience it so we all know it's a real problem that other people, even people we know, are experiencing.
kitten_goddess
Nov. 7th, 2009 02:35 pm (UTC)
I'm so sorry you don't feel real. What can I do to help?
aekiy
Nov. 9th, 2009 11:35 am (UTC)
I wish I knew. The last line of the entry was more in reference to receiving counseling and psychiatric care than asking other people to take care of me. (I tend to be rather fiercely independent, despite my needs and dependencies, and don't see myself as an object worthy of aid, so asking for help is awkward and painful for me.)

Really, I think casual social interaction is one of the things I need the most, apart from medical care and painkillers. I need to try and get out and see people more, but it's a lot of effort for me, and my car hasn't been doing well. (Hopefully that will be fixed by the end of the month, but we'll see how things go.) Thanks for the offer, though. It's just a tricky thing, and hopefully some health care will help me feel somewhat better, maybe enough to get out and see people more often. I think healthful human interaction is key to reducing my anxieties and internal conflicts.
( 4 comments — Leave a comment )

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