If you suffer from any type of mental illness, you’ll know that people who don’t understand will often ask, ‘What does it feel like?’. If the question isn’t in this exact form it will be in another, things like ‘How does it make you feel?’ and ‘How do you feel on a daily basis?’.
Since I’ve been suffering with some form of different mental illness for 13 years, you can imagine that I’ve had enough time to come up with an answer by now. The problem with these questions is that you need a way to explain it simply enough that they understand but also complex enough that it captures the true way that you’re feeling. That’s not an easy task to undertake, no matter what illness you have.
When I got ‘diagnosed’ (long story, you can read about it HERE) with Borderline Personality Disorder, I found that because it’s less spoken about, I was getting more questions like the ones I mentioned earlier. Not only those questions but mainly a lot of ‘What the hell is that?’. So, I forced myself to come up with different options of how to explain it to people in a way that they’ll understand clearly.
I can’t remember where I found this, but on the interwebs somewhere I found an ananolgy called ‘The Fog’. People use this for all sorts of illnesses as an easy way to describe how they’re feeling, but I think it really resonates with me because even the name of it can quickly give people an imaginative idea of what you’re going through as soon as you say it.
With my BPD, I’ve experienced a lot of dissociation as well. The dissociation and the BPD are what I would most describe as ‘The Fog’, however I can see why people would connect it mainly to depression. When I’m feeling really low or down, the best way to describe the way I feel would be looking through thick clouds; but imagine the clouds are almost impossible to walk through.
The dissociation causes me to lose touch with reality and more often than not, I find myself seeing and experiencing a world that I’ve created in my head rather than the one I’m actually in. It’s like, I can see the world that I’m imagining but through fogged up glass. I can hear things that aren’t actually happening like voices, but it’s different to psychosis because I feel safe when I hear them. My brain has taken me out of this world, because it got sick of it, and placed me into another one where I will feel better.
As for BPD, the fog has a different meaning. BPD causes a lot of daily tasks and emotions that you may have to be skewed in a way that you, and nobody else, can understand. This means that you often feel isolated and disconnected from the rest of the human race, because you’re not experiencing things in the same way that everyone else is. This is what I say when I describe the BPD fog to people. The way in which I see things is through the BPD fog, whereas you see things ‘normally’.
The fog can also be used as an extra descriptor for when people say they feel hazy, or spacey. When you just feel ‘out of it’, for example, you can also use ‘foggy’. It’s just a way of saying that your brain hasn’t completed connected with what’s going on around you.
I think ‘The Fog’ is such a good way for people to describe how they’re feeling without having to go into uncomfortable levels of personal detail or explaining things for an hour. People just accept that sometimes your brain is hazy, and can’t fathom the world around it, therefore when you use ‘the fog’ as your descriptive analogy people are more likely to accept it as part of their day to day life.
This is especially great for me because if I was to say, “Well, it makes me angry when you don’t respond to me for 1 minute or more’ when people ask what BPD is, I would have no friends.
Hopefully this analogy and the way I’ve explained it in this post can help someone else with mental illness to let people know what’s going on with them. As I said before, I didn’t come up with the original idea, I’ve just added onto it and made it my own – which you can too.