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I Do Know that not Everything is About Me

January 29, 2014 Leave a comment

I left a comment on “Look Straight Ahead” today. The main character, Jeremy is having a bad episode of racing malformed thoughts, and another commenter said that he/she wished that there was a cure for mental illness. I replied that my meds worked for me, but that everyone was different. Later I realized that I put things in terms of my own experience a lot when maybe I shouldn’t.

Here’s another example: I was out to lunch with a group the other day and one of the people was Vietnamese. He was telling us about one time when he was crossing the border his passport wasn’t in order and they wouldn’t let him out. I told my story about one time when a friend and I were in Poland in 1992 and his passport wasn’t in order and we had a soldier with a machine-gun screaming at us “No Visa Card!”. (They let us out after a few tense minutes). Again I felt very self-conscious after telling the story that I didn’t need to put everything in terms of my own experience.

In the first instance, I don’t feel that I have any authority to be speaking about being bipolar except through my own limited experience. Unless I’m going to refer to a book or an article, the authority is going to come from my life. I had malformed racing thoughts and my meds made them go away. It seemed like the appropriate thing to say.

In the second instance, I was just trying to hold up my end of the conversation. I don’t know much about the reality of Vietnam (as opposed to what’s in the movies). I suppose I should have thought up questions to ask instead of changing the subject (which at the time I didn’t even realize I had done). The point is, I am aware that I can be self-centred at times. It’s just that sometimes that self-awareness comes too late.

What do you readers think about this topic? What is an appropriate level of self-centredness in comments and conversation?

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