Many people who suffer with mental health issues have struggled with the same issues for many years. Some of these individuals may even find it difficult to remember a time when symptoms of their anxiety or depression were NOT a problem. Dealing with any psychological difficulty for an extended period of time can impact all aspects of life, from social and occupational functioning to physical health.
As your struggle with mental health becomes part of your daily life, it can become engrained into your sense of self. You ARE your symptoms. They become part of your identity.
Instead of being a person who suffers from depression, you become a depressed person.
Instead of a person who suffers from anxiety, you become an anxious person.
Identity disturbance can influence how you are viewed by yourself, your family, community, even the medical profession. Your illness becomes who you are and it can be difficult and even threatening to consider letting it go.
As unpleasant as the symptoms may be, it can be even scarier to think about who you might be when you’re not symptomatic. You may not remember that person, or how to even begin to be that person.
If this sounds like you, you are not alone. Change, even the good kind (like finding your identity) can be scary and difficult. As you might imagine, simply recognizing the way your symptoms impact your identity is only half the battle. Learning what it is that makes you who you are may be a long and introspective journey, and a great goal for therapy. To get you started, you may consider the following:
Your SYMPTOMS take up a lot of space in your life.
What ELSE can you fill your life with?
Where ELSE could you direct all of that energy?
What QUALITIES do you value most in yourself? In life overall? In others?
There are no right answers to these questions, and they are just a few small steps along the path of developing your identity.
Call today to set up an appointment and we can talk about more ways you can reclaim your identity (or discover a new one) so you can start learning how to be YOU — and not your symptoms.