The 12th Invest in ME Conference, Part 1
OverTheHills presents the first article in a series of three about the recent 12th Invest In ME international Conference (IIMEC12) in London.
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Who am I? it all seemed so simple once

Discussion in 'General Symptoms' started by meandthecat, Feb 27, 2011.

  1. meandthecat

    meandthecat Senior Member

    West country UK
    I would suppose that we have all been there at some time or another. But my question is in a pragmatic rather than philosophical sense. I wish it were easier to phrase.

    I have a sense of self, of who I am. I can be angry or sad; I am still me.
    It has taken a battering over the last few years with the difficulties that this condition creates and little by little I know that I have changed.
    Perhaps more than I can be aware of.

    Of late I find that there are times when that sense of self is absent. It is not the same as when I could not 'judge' whether up was up or black was white; that seemed to be a cortical processing issue.

    When it occurs now it is a radical sometimes contradictory perception of the 'gestalt'. As if seeing the same scene from wildly different positions; as if the fundamental assumptions upon which judgement is founded flips about.
    Usually this involves choosing or assessing a course of action but now and then it involves a visual perception such as the traffic lights that changed but didn't, if you know what I mean.
    and I do hope someone knows what I mean otherwise it could get lonely out here, as friends and family are giving me strange looks.

    It's just a little thing compared to what most of us have coped with.

    over to you
  2. lucy

    lucy Senior Member

    I was thinking a lot recently about who I am, or if I exist at all. I have read somewhere, that the brain works really hard on creating the concept of the "self" from early childhood. I think it was an article about buddism, so in buddism people are meditating out of the "self" to be able to percept the world and other beings in a cleared way.

    Many problems arise, when the self as we percept it changes. It was totally baffling to think that it could be that we trick ourselves into believing that we are someone specific (like imagine you create a computer and after a year it starts saying it likes red more than yellow, moreover it has a name, and it hates pop-music). Thinking in this direction, it appears we take it too much for granted, that what we believe we are will not change. I also noticed the bigger the stronger the idea of the self a person has, the more difficult he is to deal with.

    So these days I like to ponder about other animals and birds, thinking do they also have an idea of self in their heads, or not?

    If we accept the fact that either we do not exist (I mean a personality, not the body - the body exists until proven otherwise) or we change a lot, even day by day, it is easier to deal with things happening around us. Of course you will be not understood by the others.
  3. meandthecat

    meandthecat Senior Member

    West country UK
    Hi Lucy

    It has often seemed that what I have experienced must be common, but un-noticed by those who have not been so challenged.
    Likewise often only those who have experienced 'ME' seem to understand the weirdness of it all.

    Philosophically I am with you and I suspect that some animals experience a sense of self especially those that have mirror-neurons which seem underpin the the ability to 'know that we know'.

    It seems ironic that cognitive impairment should be so intellectually stimulating but in the words of Joni Mitchell

    'don't it always seem to go, that you don't know what you've got till it's gone'
  4. alex3619

    alex3619 Senior Member

    Logan, Queensland, Australia
    Hi, what little we understand of sense of self indicates that people lose a sense of selves in some cases, although my knowledge on this is something like 16 years out of date. Some patients with brain damage cannot realize that one of their arms belongs to them in some circumstances. It has been shown that chimpanzees recognize self, but I don't think the same can be said of lizards or frogs.

    Bye, Alex Young
    ex Artificial Intelligence researcher
  5. heapsreal

    heapsreal iherb 10% discount code OPA989,

    australia (brisbane)
    its the living in the now thats hard when u cant do what u want to do. I hate always living within yourself, if u go outside yourself u crash, bugger, we're wrapped in cotton wool.
  6. sleepy237

    sleepy237 Senior Member

    I relate, we are robbed of so much through this illness and forced to adapt which is not an easy thing to do. There is often times I want myself back, when i should be saying i want my health back but that health was part of the functional person i once was. When you talk about sense of self being lost i relate also and think that sometimes i have lost mine in order to cope with this at its most trying times, like a shutting down protection mechanism. It is a terrible illness to live with and I think I have developed many ways to deal with things I can't REALLY cope with. Denial is one, fantasising that i will wake up and it will just have gotten better over night. Detaching is another, for example stress, i wont have it, ill switch my phone off rather than deal with unwanted stress and then switch my mind off to it too. I am certainly a changed person in some ways but this illness has forced that and the world i live in; I also have a brand new outlook on. I find it comforting just to remember the simplistic things; that i am part of this universe the sky the trees the wind etc really taking it to just being. This illness has taken so much but it is not taking me. Take care, hugs. ~Sleepy
  7. meandthecat

    meandthecat Senior Member

    West country UK
    Wow it's really powerful to hear this stuff coming back and know it from the inside.

    I lost my memory, so much gone; and couldn't make new memories. As I have gained strength I have rediscovered a person, finding a thread and teasing it out to see what was there, to fill in the gaps.

    The person that emerged was different to the one whose memories I was discovering. I think I see the world more clearly than the person who made these memories who quite frankly seems to have been deranged much of the time.

    But I feel less than this person of passion and dreams, a shadow following the surfaces in front of which he walked.

    I feel grateful to have claimed back this much, and curious as to where it might lead.

    I feel more 'free' within my confinement than I ever did before I was ill as if the 'Mind-forged manacles' had slipped a little. Or perhaps I just forgot.
  8. *GG*

    *GG* senior member

    Concord, NH
    Thanks for sharing, inspiring post!

  9. Dr. Yes

    Dr. Yes Shame on You

    Thanks meandthcat and all for sharing your perceptions. My brain is too fried to say anything about my sense of self at the moment, but much of what has been said here sounds very familiar.

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