4 thoughts on “How to Respond When Someone Shares Their Personal Story

  • August 16, 2017 at 4:47 pm

    For many people, hearing another’s deeply personal story of their painful struggle with an illness or tragedy, is too confronting. It is much easier to intellectualise what is being presented rather than to empathise; much safer to hear what is being said and to analyse the words, rather than to listen for what is not being spoken and to ask why. Some times the reason for such a refusal is because the person is at a stage of self growth where they are too vulnerable to take on another’s pain, and sometimes it is because they are too lacking in understanding of both themselves and others, and, possibly, have no desire to learn. Either way we have the responsibility to our own self to take on board what is helpful in another’s response and to let go what is not.

    • August 16, 2017 at 5:19 pm

      SO wisely spoken – thank you! Boy I can see how each of those scenarios could easily play out depending on where the listener is at. Thank you for taking the time to share your insights here!

  • August 16, 2017 at 10:35 pm

    I’ve not seen To The Bone, I have a long history of eating disorders which have landed me in the position of almost forced weight gain in a hospital setting several times now. I hate my eating disorders and watching my experiences on a large screen…I just can’t see why I would want to do that when I have enough experiences like that to reflect back on already.

    I think the film I would say described mental health the most aptly, was the Russell Crow/Jennifer Connelly (apologies if those names are spelt incorrectly!) A Beautiful Mind.

    The film -without wanting to spoil it for anyone who has not watched it- please please do because it really is second to none one of the best films I’ve watched, and stop reading now if you intend to do that because I don’t want to spoil it for you. The way the film has taken the actors story and played it out as the main story…and then before you know it you are there with the main actor, living his life with him and becoming swallowed up in his life the same way his wife, Jennifer Connelly is.
    Then you get to the point where it all becomes very disturbing, threatening and frightening and you begin to wonder how this man will cope, how brave he will have to be in the face of what is happening, how unfair and destructive the world can be and how much he has to do to battle with his life just to keep himself alive.
    The you realise that the whole experience is a form of psychosis. The actor is having a mental health break down. And the realisation just strikes you- that sense of a whole other world, a whole outlook running opposing but yet alongside what others deem as the real world- that is in my mind, how ill mental health works for everyone. For me as someone with an eating disorder for example, sitting down at a table to eat is a totally different type of hell to the rest of the world who may well sit down with a totally different back story going on. It happens for me with food, with exercise, with shopping for clothes, or when I have a break down.

    I would have thought for someone experiencing alcoholism, like the film Girl On A Train where the lead experiences a totally different world to the reality around her after drinking- or perhaps not drinking at times. I’d imagine that there are many other mental health conditions which would have the sufferer (or fighter) in the same world as you and I, perhaps sitting with us at work, on the train or bus, walking down the road with us, even in our classroom or place of work and yet in a totally different world. A world you will never see because they (or, we) have learned by a series of poor experiences, to say nothing and fight alone or risk an even bigger hell to grapple with. It’s there every day, it’s no less dramatic at times than the film. But no one ever knows because no one ever speaks and because so much of our own reality, is taken as red. Weather or not it actually is, is another matter.

    • August 16, 2017 at 10:51 pm

      Oh my goodness – A Beautiful Mind is my all-time favorite movie when it comes to truly expressing what it feels like to battle an eating disorder! I love that we share that! I haven’t seen the “Girl on a Train” movie yet, but clearly I need to now. And what you say is so true – it is still so common that people in the grips of mental battles don’t (or sometimes can’t for awhile) articulate it in a way that others will understand, so we stay silent and those around us misunderstand what is really going on. I also love that you can see so clearly how the set may change – one moment it is the dinner table, then a clothing rack, then the gym, and then something else – but the battle feels much the same. That was a huge key for me in making breakthroughs in my own recovery. Thank you so much for taking the time to share your experiences here – I have no doubt they will be a source of insight and encouragement to others who are still struggling!


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