BIID is common. Well, relatively common. More common than one would expect.
I have for a long time suspected that there are many more people with BIID than either we or medical researchers are aware of, that although there are maybe only in total a few thousand people with BIID posting on the internet in reality there are probably more like one or two people with BIID in every few thousand. Why do I believe that BIID is so common?
Many comparisons have been drawn, from multiple angles, between BIID and other formally-closeted topics such as homosexuality and transgenderism, and with regards to the present discussion we can draw another important comparison. Think about how common homosexuality is these days – chances are you might have spoken to a person who is homosexuality, or at least know of one personally even if you haven’t spoken to them yourself. Transgenderism is coming up in the news all the time, as celebrities from all areas of life – athletes, actors, singers, you name it – are opening up about their gender identity and, where applicable, their transition to the gender with which they identify. But think about how seemingly-uncommon these things were a hundred, or even fifty, years ago. The fact is, only once society opens up to something and accepts it as real and legitimate, then you start hearing about it. That’s when people with it are not afraid to hide who they are but are more willing to open up and talk about that particular side of themselves, sometimes even in very forthcoming ways.
If we apply the same pattern to BIID, then, which it seems like the logical pattern to apply, we are naive if we don’t expect BIID to be more common than it currently appears to be. Only once society opens up towards those with BIID will we be accepted enough for us to be willing to talk about ourselves, to pretend, to even participate in medical research, and ultimately to become the people who we need to be.
But what real evidence do I have to prove that BIID is more common than first meets the eye? To tell the truth, in the 18 or so months since I discovered BIID, I’ve seen at least two people who I can pretty certainly say have BIID. I told one of my non-BIID friends about this and while he found the idea of a “BIID radar” amusing he didn’t really believe that it was possible. But what would you say when you’re stopped at a pedestrian crossing watching the most inexperienced wheelchair user that you’ve ever seen (as evidenced by her pushing style), with the biggest smile on her face (the kind of smile that says “nothing else matters right now, because I’m in a wheelchair and that’s all I care about”), fail repeatedly to get across a road with the slightest hump in the middle (as most roads are), and refuse any and all offers of help (as people with BIID usually do)? Or a man with his eyes closed behind very weak refractive glasses (as evidenced by the thinness of the lenses and the lack of much visible refraction through them) walking with a white cane? (At least when I pretend in public I take my glasses off…) These things, that most people would never notice, jump out at me, because I understand them, because what most people would write off as “that doesn’t make sense” and immediately forget about are to me the obvious signs of BIID.
But that’s not where it ends. The real inspiration for this post is that, despite having posted nothing new in exactly a month, my blog has still been receiving a steady stream of traffic of on average at least five page views a day from at least three visitors (some days I get over ten views from over five visitors, and other days I get just one or two views). Most of this traffic has, understandably for such a quiet blog, been coming from search engines (actual searches that people have typed in, not search engine crawler robots). Sadly WordPress.com doesn’t give me many of the actual search queries that readers are searching for (Google hides that information from the site visited but Bing doesn’t), but guess which posts have been the most popular? Not random rants about administrators of IRC channels. The most popular posts over the past month have been the posts about BIID. The posts about my experiences as a pretender, my tips for dealing with BIID, and the most popular post of them all: Current BIID support groups. In fact, almost all of the Bing search queries were along the lines of “biid support group”, “biid support”, “support group for biid” and so on.
What does this tell me? That BIID is as common as I have, for a long time, believed it to be. There are people out there who are afraid to talk about their feelings, but who come to my blog as another step in understanding themselves. Some of them need to talk, but don’t know where to turn to find people who will understand them. But the bottom line is that there are people with BIID out there, and until the medical community catches up with the situation we must offer all of the support that we can. We need to tell people where to find us, and when they do find us, we need to give them what they need – whether that’s someone to talk to or just a few blog posts to read before slipping back into the closet, better prepared to tame the beast that’s been holding them captive for as long as they can remember.
I would also like to use this opportunity to highlight an important personal matter, which I have not until now known how to address. It’s a long story, but the short version is that I do not believe myself to have BIID any longer. There are very few stories of people being cured of BIID, but it does happen. In my case, however, I do not believe that I was cured, thus I cannot offer any advice in this area, but my BIID has gone away by itself (perhaps there is such a thing as transient or short-term BIID, or perhaps there is another reason why my BIID went away, but the truth is that I don’t know and it doesn’t really matter – the important thing is that it’s gone now). Nevertheless I did have BIID for a time and I have written this post from the perspective of myself as a BIID sufferer, because after all I have been a BIID sufferer in the past and I understand how BIID feels and how difficult it can be to manage. I do not want this postscript to lessen any of what I have said in this post, or in the past, as it does not lessen any of my knowledge of or experience with BIID.
I would also like to introduce a greater matter that I feel is important, regarding the “bigger picture” surrounding BIID, as it were. BIID does not exist in isolation, but to me it appears to be part of a bigger spectrum of “disorders”. I am afraid of saying too much at this stage as some of what I want to discuss is controversial in the BIID community and I fear that I may be ridiculed, but it is an important matter which I feel I must make known somehow, and in due course I hope to discuss this further on my blog, when I have enough information to properly formulate a discussion on the topic.
This will probably be my last post about BIID directly, and certainly my last post as a BIID sufferer, but as someone who has once had BIID but no longer has it I am able to see BIID from both a first-hand and an outside perspective, just as pretenders are able to see disability from multiple perspectives, and this has enabled me to see a bigger picture surrounding BIID and many other issues, tying together multiple “disorders” that have so far been regarded as completely separate (to the extent that I could safely say that those experiencing one of these “disorders” probably have no knowledge of many – if any – of the others) but which are actually different manifestations of the same thing, for when I read of them and of people’s experiences with them I see in them parallels with my own and others’ experiences with BIID, to the extent that the “disorders” themselves are self-evidently a parallel of BIID.