Does my illness define me?

Discerning who you are apart from your illness is no easy feat. At times I have thoroughly convinced myself I am perfectly fine. I rationalize away my mood swings, from extreme irritability to absolutely no semblance of control and let us not forget those so beloved dark days.

Having people in your life who not only minimize but trivialize your illness is the exact opposite of what you need. Sure they are wonderful when you want to stop taking your medication(s) and/or challenge any diagnosis. They come in handy only when you start to jeopardize your health and quite literally put your life on the line.

It is very common for people like myself to object to their disorder even though they may have shown complete understanding and acceptance in the past. We are so easily prone to want to deny our illness. There are a variety of reasons, generally those with Bipolar I enjoy the feeling of mania and more often than not they will start to abstain from taking their meds. It’s not that they want to put their lives in danger. It’s not that they are intentionally trying to ruin themselves or anyone else. They miss the highs and also interestingly enough they miss being themselves.

Woah, what is she talking about? That might have been some transference but I can attest to feeling that way. As I have mentioned before I have Bipolar II so I experience hypomania (a less severe form of mania) and more depressive episodes. The point I’m trying to get across is simple. At times is IS hard discerning myself from my illness because after all what would I be without it?

I wouldn’t be me. This is how I have been and will always be. Regardless of the genetic and environmental factors I am here today with this illness. It is apart of me and that’s OK because I will always do my best to remember through it all I am unique and I will always possess my individuality.

But hey! I have some advice and although it is quite simplistic I think it’s worthwhile to note. First off it is absolutely necessary to either remove those who deny your illness or cut down contact to a minimum. (Family gatherings etc.) Secondly it is okay to give yourself a break. You’re not going to accept it 100%. Maybe there are those of you who would beg to differ but I think we can at least agree it won’t be easy. Lastly your illness is apart of you. The more you try to escape it the more worn down you will get.

Mental illness does not define us but we must tend to it and nurture it as our own. 

Photo Credit:

unsplash-logoCristian Newman

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21 Replies to “Does my illness define me?”

  1. I am so glad I came across this post today. I needed it as I have been struggling with a lot of things you talked about in your post. Accepting myself as is, it’s one of the hardest things about having a mental illness. I love the optimism and he real ness you have expressed in his post. Take care of yourself. ❤️

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much. You’re too kind and I am very appreciative you took your time to comment. It’s the small things that go a long way. Wishing you the best by friend.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I love this post. I always had trouble with my identity too, especially when I was younger. I was pretty sure that in my family I was “the one that had cancer,” while my sisters were defined by their characteristics and appearance. I kind of mention this in a few of my blog posts. It took a while for me to accept that my illness affected me greatly. I remember a time when I was talking about some of my long term side effects from my treatment, my boyfriend at the time irritatingly asked me why I always talk about sad things. Nowadays I understand that while my illness is part of my identity and does not define the whole of me.
    Thank you for writing this!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much for sharing. It helps so much to hear from others and remember so many of us are experiencing similar things. Always keep in mind that you’re important and although everyone may not always understand, you having a good understanding of yourself will go a long way. I look forward to reading your writing. Best wishes.

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  3. After 4 months being off my meds, I felt I made progress in acceptance of my anxiety disorder—regardless of the overwhelming attacks, almost nightly. I decided to go back on a regular dose today, coupled with Xanax when needed. But it breaks my heart. Off meds, I found my heart again, my character started to shine again. I’m reluctant to see my personality retreat—but meds it is.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. A lot of people view medication as something we depend on but it is worthwhile to look at is as something that helps us live a life with significantly less episodes, whether that be depreasion, mania and/or panic attacks. I don’t fully understand what it is your going through but I know the side effects of meds can be discouraging. So I encourage you to think about how you maintain your individuality. In a perfect world I know we would all throw our meds away but I am grateful, for both of us that we have the opportunity to live life with a little more ease. Thank you for commenting. It’s people like you that really give me the motivation to keep writing. Best wishes my friend.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. A very sincere thank you. It is oddly comforting to know there are many who understand this. Best wishes my friend.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Great post. I am often in denial of my mental health status and I only talk about it to those who are close to me. Other than them, i keep it hidden. I am fearful that an illness or label would define me in people’s eyes. I hate labels because people start treating you differently. I think in terms of creativity, I write better when I haven’t slept (ie mania) but having a manic episode isn’t worth the creativity, Thanks for posting dude

    Liked by 2 people

    1. The fear of labels is all too real. That’s definitely why those of us with mental illness still feel a bit unsure and uneasy about becoming public but your comment is helping break down those stigmas. Truly. Thank you so much for commenting. It may seem of little importance but you are contributing in a wonderful way. If anything the support is incredible and I wish you the best.

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  5. I have a love/hate relationship with my mental health… like most I guess do. Some days I accept it and I realize that my sudden mood swings or irritability is just the imbalance within my head.
    Other days I decide I’m going to quit my antidepressants cold turkey (and I have a few times) only to realize a week later I am 98% WORSE than I was on it. I hate having to rely on a pill to keep me in a somewhat balance. But there are days where I can tell it’s not the “real” me if that makes sense.
    Fortunately discussing mental health is not as taboo– not to say I openly shout from the roof about it, but chiming in on friends who are also brave enough to put it out there. Like hey me too. Don’t feel bad. Or posting something that hints that I struggle with depression and now anxiety.
    But still finding that acceptance is hard. You get tired of being told pray harder. Think positive. That doesn’t work if I’m being honest. Not with depression. Not with Lupus.
    I’m Sure I’ve said it before but I think it’s great you share this with “strangers” 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I honestly appreciate this so much. It is so eye opening and humbling to have people like yourself open up and share with me… with everyone. Just knowing that others understand and can relate does wonders. You seem very conscientious and beautifully honest. Also interestingly enough I lived with an older lady who had Lupus and I wrote an article about a girl who started her own Lupus awareness foundation for her mom. So from the little knowledge I have I want you to know that I am rooting for you and I wish you only the best.

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    1. I will be here supporting you. Very excited to see what’s to come!

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    1. Beautifully put. Thank you for the read and the lovely comment. Sending my best!

      Like

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