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Cupcake's avatar

Have you ever received information that changed how you viewed yourself?

Asked by Cupcake (15815points) October 21st, 2022
10 responses
“Great Question” (8points)

I learned recently that I am autistic, as is (at least) one of my kids. As a result, I have been thinking a lot about life events, trauma, and how I interpreted various experiences through this new lens of autism. And it’s resulted in some interesting things – some that make me happy, some that are a relief, some that are sad and/or painful.

On one side of my family, we have an oral history about an ancestor who was Native American. However, when my parent had their ancestry analyzed, they learned that they were likely Irish/Scottish and not Native American at all. It has been interesting watching this parent navigate this new information that is contrary to what they believed for their whole life.

So have you ever received information that changed how you viewed yourself or caused you to re-evaluate some large aspect of who you are or experiences you’ve had?

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zenvelo's avatar

Not me in particular, other than the realization in my late teens/early twenties that my brother was a “surprise mistake”; he was born 8 years after me. My brother figured it out when he was fairly young and held a resentment for a long time.

When my dad retired he went to the Yukon and looked up his father’s gold claims from before World War One. Looking through all the provincial records, he realized my grandfather had been married long before he married my grandmother. It was a bit of a shock for him to realize his father had kept this secret for so long.

Hawaii_Jake's avatar

In October 2001, I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder type 2. It gave a reason for some destructive behavior, and the search for an effective medication began. I found some medications that seemed to work, but they caused me to gain a lot of weight, and they gave me tremors. I literally could not write. The doctor added another pill to take away the tremors that worked, but I didn’t like the idea of taking one more pill to counteract what another pill was doing.

The medications were changed often over the years.

Finally in 2013, I was given a new medicine that I still take today. It has been night and day.

With continuous therapy and then in 2015 going back to work, I’m now in a good place. I’ve only had one episode in 7 years. I’m stable.

Cupcake's avatar

Thank you for sharing. I’m curious, for both of you, if this information caused you to reflect back and re-interpret various events or behaviors differently. Was it helpful? Was it at all harmful or painful, given this new information?

Hawaii_Jake's avatar

^It explained some events and behaviors. It has been mostly helpful, but during an episode, it’s a curse.

RayaHope's avatar

Well yes as you know I just found out that I (may be) autistic myself and I’m still trying to come to grips with what that completely entails. No formal professional diagnosis just yet and I am not even telling anyone at home until after our vacation. I have to get things sorted out before any more surprises with my other issues I don’t think they can handle another thing right now. I need to just calm myself and take the next few weeks slow.

Nomore_Tantrums's avatar

Only once, and rather minor at that. But a supervisor I once worked for told me one time that, “One thing I have noticed about you is that you treat everybody the same way, and you don’t seem to care if they’re a CEO or cleaning crew member”. I was kind of flattered to hear something positive, even though I had never really given that much thought. Since that time I try harder to treat everyone with respect and dignity, unless they give me reason to do otherwise.

gondwanalon's avatar

All my like I was told that I’m Irish.
I was shocked to learn that my DNA test showed that I’m 86% German, 10% Indigenous American and 4% Asian.
When told my older Sister of my DNA test results she told me a family secret. She said my Great Grandmother got pregnant by a “Mexican” when she visited California. Her father paid my Great Grandfather two farms in Wisconsin if he would marry my Great Grandmother. That would make sense as her daughter (my Grandmother) would be 50% American Indian and my Father would be 25% American Indian and me 12½ American Indian.

Mimishu1995's avatar

I was told all my life that I was useless and stupid. I never thought of myself as having any brain power so I just floated through life without using my brain. It was until I came to Fluther that I heard people telling me I’m intelligent. It was a shock to me as I had never thought of myself that way. It was like everything turning upside down.

JLeslie's avatar

Only minor changes. Most of it happened in childhood.

Things like learning about the Holocaust and that I would have been one of the people tortured or killed. Then every few years still to the day I hear about some sort of violence against Jewish people, like a shooting, foiled plot to attack, WS marches, swastikas being paraded around or drawn as graffiti. Plus, daily you can see confederate flags if you live in the right place. It’s really the initial understanding as a child that I was a target of the hate that changed me a little.

Finding out my grandfather was put in an orphanage for a while as a child, and that he and his siblings had mental illness, some more severe than others.

Understanding that my dad grew up very poor. That he was basically on his own navigating how to get through adolescence into adulthood.

Each of those things changed how I viewed myself in the world and my view of the world. They made me more empathetic, a little more afraid, and sad too. They contributed to me wanting fairness as a central part of what I desired for myself and everyone. I think it partly hurt my self esteem as a child. Later, I developed some pride around everything my family had done to get through life.

I also have come to understand more recently that there is a category of study regarding generational trauma, and I think I suffer from some aspects of it. Specifically, they study groups that have been through severe oppression, terrorism, torture, and also genocide. Living through those events the survivors pass on what some people might cal mental illness, but probably helped keep ancestors alive. The symptoms are hyper-vigilance, higher levels of anxiety, and depression, just to name a few. It makes perfect sense to me.

smudges's avatar

When I found out at age 17 that I would never have children it changed my life irrevocably, devastatingly, and forever.

When I found out I’m the product of an incestuous rape it changed how I see myself. I always knew I was adopted, but after that I had the pieces that made up my past and the why of being adopted.

When I was diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder, PTSD and ADD it changed how I think of myself. It explained so much about my behaviors from an early age.

Open heart surgery changed my view of myself.

Needless to say, I’ve never run out of things to talk about in therapy. ;\

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