You Are Not Your Illness 

You are not Depressed Debbie. You are not “a bipolar woman” or “a schizophrenic man.” You are a wonderful, talented, unique person with gifts and talents to bless the world with. You may have red hair, blue eyes, be allergic to bananas and have bipolar disorder. You may be a person who loves to paint and who suffers from depression. Who are you?
Your mental illness is one aspect of your life. It does not DEFINE you. Do not let it. It also does not make you defective, less than, damaged, or inadequate. You deserve love, just like anyone else. You deserve success and happiness. You might be different, but different does not mean broken.
You may feel like you are cursed, but often times in life our curses are also our gifts. Do you ever think if you didn’t have your illness you might not also have the capacity for compassion, strength, wisdom and the gifts of creativity that you do? So many brilliant artists, musicians, writers, presidents, physicists, leaders etc have suffered from mental illness. Where would we be without their contributions to society? Without their art, love, depth, vision and bravery? Would you magically get rid of your mental illness or do you think the other side of the illness is gifts and talents? It’s taken me a long time to say this- but I don’t think I would. What are your dreams and goals?
I believe you are not your illness. I also believe you are not your thoughts. I believe you are so much more. What do you believe?

I do think getting a proper diagnosis and treatment are essential to healing and success. It helps you understand your condition, learn ways to cope, know you’re not alone, and understand that this isn’t a personality flaw or a will power issue- it’s a real disease. That being said, I believe the diagnosis is one aspect of you and you are SO MUCH MORE!

So much love and so many blessings!
Rachie

Advertisements

28 thoughts on “ You Are Not Your Illness 

  1. I can relate to this article I had a terrible psychiatrist who for a couple years let me stay sick and stopped treating my symptoms and episodes and when I got manic. It affected some of my writing in the stories I wrote that led me down the road ‘is this me or the illness’ , today I know it’s not me I was sick when writing those stories so they didn’t come out as I wanted them to be as I wasn’t in control my illness was. It’s very scary not to be in control. Today I am able to go back and rewrite those stories into new great stories the ones I want to tell. I switched to a new doctor a year ago though we have made a lot of adjustments through the year we made a lot of progress and I am getting back on track. It’s nice to look back and look at where I am now to see how good things are going.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Ugh! I know what it’s like having the wrong psychiatrist! Such a nightmare- treated so poorly, misdiagnosed and quickly rushed out with scripts you can’t take because you didn’t trust the doc. I finally found the most phenomenal psychiatrist and she changed everything for me- I’m SO glad you did, too. Just like there are bad teachers and good teachers (with any career) there are bad psychiatrist and great ones. So glad you are back to writing awesome stories and kicking butt! You are a writer! You are so much more than an illness.

      Liked by 2 people

  2. Great post! This is something I struggle with. I feel like my illness is front and center bc I take meds 3x a day and I am on the lookout for depression or mania symptoms. I did have a Dr tell me that I’m always using labels. I know it is part of who I am, not sure I would say it’s a gift. I just feel like it’s always on my mind especially now that I had to take an early retirement from teaching for 19 years.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. My heart is with you. I know (from experience as well) how devastating and frightening mental illness can be. And the last thing it would seem like is a gift. It sounds like you’ve been through SO much.
      I’ve just noticed everyone I’ve met with mental illness has extraordinary gifts as well. Empathy, compassion, creativity, etc — qualities I’m sure you have as a teacher! Though you had to retire I’m sure you’re still teaching in different ways. Like through your blog!
      In the midst of figuring out the right treatment and getting through of course it’s on the front burner- I totally understand and I know how it swallows everything- it’s in the forefront but it is still not who you are, and I believe there is a place inside of you that is bigger then it (sorry I can be cheesy)
      Have you ever heard of “the work” by Byron Katie? Along with medication her method helped me a lot. Say you have a thought “I am my illness” you turn it around to the opposite and find three reasons why the opposite is true. “I am not my illness” they could be things like because (just writing random things)
      1. I am a loving mother
      2. I am a child of God
      3. I am an artist
      You also ask yourself “how do i react when I believe that thought?” She has YouTube videos about it! 🙂
      It helps me because my mind generally believes the anxious, depressed, catastrophic thought like “I could go crazy at any minute! Aahhh!” (My mind is so intense lol) so I’m constantly turning them around in my head. Basically I’ve stopped believing a lot of my inner dialog! lol
      A lot of my blog posts are because of turning thoughts to the opposite like I wrote a blog about how people with depression are not weak, but strong–
      I’m sending so much love and prayers your way. I know you’ll emerge from this! Love!!!

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Thank you so much Rachel. You are so right people with mental illness do have those qualities. Maybe I wouldn’t have them without my illness. Yes I have been through a lot. I kept thinking I was going to go back to work and then I started relapsing. My boss was amazing and was willing to help me in any way. But as soon as I stepped foot in the building and had reentry meetings I detached and felt like I did when I had to go to the hospital at the start of the school year. I knew I had to end this chapter. I had a party my boss came and I have a small pension with health insurance. I’m grateful for that. And yes I am always a teacher. I don’t know what my life will look like in the future. My daughter and I live in a wonderful place but I have to move to a one bedroom and I’m giving her the room. She’s a teen. It won’t be forever. I’m waiting for a ss hearing which can take a year just go get a hearing date. Sorry I’m rambling. Oh yes I know all about the work. I’m glad it helps you. I appreciate your loving energy. DBT has been so helpful. I have borderline too. I don’t think you’re cheesey. You sound like me. Sending you love and healing energy:)

        Liked by 2 people

      2. You are the sweetest! omg! I’m so glad your work was supportive and knew this is an illness. I think you should be SO proud of teaching for 19 years! I’m finishing a masters in music Ed and although I want to teach I’m not sure I could handle 19 years full time! I think that’s phenomenal and totally something to celebrate! Think of how many kids you helped and taught wow! I know it’s an end but it’s also a new beginning- a new chapter- I ended my pop/rock singing and I had some grief over that but now I am even happier writing musical theatre and happier teaching- I never thought I’d be happier on this path but God surprises us 🙂 he’s like “oh I have a better plan” I grew up with an amazing single mom and though we didn’t always have everything I wouldn’t change anything because she raised me to be who I am today and she gave me more value than anything money could buy. She’s actually an amazing therapist now! So fitting! Hehhehe I’m inspired by your teaching and your staying strong through all of it! Muah!!!

        Liked by 2 people

    2. I had to quit work because of chronic medical problems in 1993, so I understand what you are going through now. As someone who has worked so long and been responsible through illness, having to stop working kind of focuses your mind on the illness that caused you to change your way of life to accommodate your physical and emotional limitations. It takes time but you will find that you adjust. You will have better rest; a rhythm that suits your body, mind and soul; and then another calling will find you because teachers always teach. That will gradually take the focus off of your limitations, regrets, guilt, sadness and like Rachel says you will find that your illness brings a depth to you that allows you to help others in a positive way.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Thank you so much. I really needed to hear that. I feel so lost and disjointed. I think it’s hitting me hard now bc school just started. I’m going to try some volunteer work. You are so right; being unable to work makes me feel like my illness is front and center all the time. It sounds like you are doing well. That’s hopeful for me. It just doesn’t feel right. It’s depressing. I don’t know how to live this life. But like you said in time I will adjust. In the meantime it’s a constant struggle 😳
        Glad you are doing well. Thanks for giving me hope.

        Liked by 2 people

      2. I’m so glad taking time to treat the illness brought you more healing- this is such kind, thoughtful reply. Thank-you.

        I know chronic illnesses can feel like a nightmare, so I have so much compassion for those who struggle w them- and I know it’s impossible to understand why. It can also feel impossible to find the right treatment- I am amazed by both of your courage & strength.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Thanks yes I was just thinking about when I drive by my school instead of feeling sad, I can feel happy bc of all the lives I impacted. I spent 8 years in the inner city schools and it was tough but rewarding. That’s cool that you sang. I guess we all have seasons in life. Writing musical theatre must be interesting and teaching too and going to school wow!
    It’s great to know your mom was such a good mom and influenced you to be the cool chick you are:) Glad I can inspire you; I enjoy helping others and making a difference. I sent my Governor two emails this week to pass mental health bills. As time goes on I see myself being an advocate, author, speaker especially when my daughter is on her own. I love the way you write! Hugs!

    Liked by 2 people

  4. I absolutely love this post. I tell people all the time whether it be mental or physical, “you are you, you are not your illness”. What a great attitude and affirmations you are gifted with!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks soooo much, Jacqueline! It’s a perspective I constantly have to remind myself to have— I love the idea that there is a place inside of us free from illness, I’m very spiritual so I refer to it as my spirit- it reminds me that no matter how bad things get- that place is bigger than all of it! 🙂 I think identifying as an illness can be seductive, because of the care and attention one can receive- but I realized I wanted attention for my gifts and ways I’m helping the world, not my struggles! It’s been a long journey, though! Lol! Thanks so much for the encouragement! Xo

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Well said! I believe that you have helped my out a wee bit. I can see the light now, I’ve stepped out of the darkness. May I also ask you an off topic question? The photos one shares on their blog, do they have to me mine? If I use someone else’s do I have to and how do I acknowledge them.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Hey lovie! So glad!!! 🙂 I’m cheering you on. I use photos from google images- I’m not sure about the photo issue – I’ve been wondering the same thing- let me ask my sister who is a popular blogger! 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  5. Great insight, Rachel! Whether we struggle with mental illness or not, those negative declarations attack us all. I believe the source of them initially is Satan trying to derail us, destroy us and steal our life and voice. I’m so impressed that you are taking those thoughts captive and using your situation to shine a light for others. I’m sure you are a huge encouragement to so many people. Thanks for checking out my blog. I hope it was helpful in some way. Continue in your path. I will pray that God continues to use you to reach his hurting, scared children. Well. Done.

    Liked by 2 people

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s