Unravelling ‘peer imposter syndrome’ and coming to understand the experience of mental health distress

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It doesn’t rear its ugly head much (anymore) for me, but it did for a while. So, let’s start with a full disclosure: I was never medicated. I was never diagnosed. I was never locked up in a “mental health unit”. So, I’m not a survivor of systemic or psychiatric abuse. I was “only” suicidal for a couple of years. In Ireland around a third of  suicides are people with no history of service use, 76% are male.

Would we consider these people to have had a mental illness/disease? Particularly when we may reject the concept of labelling human suffering by ascribing it subjective diagnostic codes. We can probably agree they were in extreme distress.

Mental health or mental distress is a nuanced area. What holds true for one, doesn’t necessary hold true for another. That should possibly be held as a golden rule for all discussions in the area. A diagnosis and/or medication may have been a breakthrough for one person and a curse from beyond Hades for another. I’ve made peace with my own past and present. I’m not seeking validation for being a peer and don’t care if you think I’m one or not, if I’m honest. But it’s a topic I think worth exploring. Who arbitrates who becomes a peer? Should we have a peer/lived /living experience council/collective who “decide” if your suffering was intense enough or of long enough duration. Must you have had a diagnosis; must you have been medicated?

Its axiomatic that you must have experienced these things to be a “survivor” of psychiatric abuse but what will we define as a peer, or should we have a definition? Read the full article on Mad in Ireland here