While our minds are conflicted with darkness, we begin to question who we are. We confuse our illness with our identity. Sometimes we think we are our illness. We believe the sadness, irrational thoughts, uncontrollable emotions, and other symptoms we have are who we are. We become blinded. We can’t see the person we are beyond our sickness. We allow our mental illness to define us.
When the darkness filled my soul, I started to question who I was. Was I a sad, hopeless wreck? What kind of person was I? Someone who cried often, someone who hurt herself without understanding why, or someone who burst out into emotional episodes. I wondered how anyone would want to be with or hang out with a person like me.
If this sad, emotional person was who I was, then what reason did I have for living? Why would God let such a person exist on earth? I lay awake at night wondering why God even made me. Was my purpose to hurt my family and friends? Was it to live at the bottom of the hole? I started to think I was my illness and it defined me as the person I was. I couldn’t see beyond it. My depression and borderline personality disorder no longer seemed like a sickness, but character traits.
I felt like I had no control over my life or my emotions. I found myself falling into one bad relationship after another and I felt like that was all I deserved. At times, my lips spit out angry words to the people I loved the most. I threw things and broke stuff. I couldn’t see beyond my inner pain. Awful things clouded my thoughts and I couldn’t think of anything else. I saw myself as a hopeless mental case.
My friend Cheryl called my illness, “The Bad Bug Guy.” This helped me to look at my illness in a different light. I suddenly began to realize my illness is something separate from who I am. I was not a mentally ill person, but I was and am a person who has mental illness. In a mental health group I joined, they told us, “You are not your illness, but you have an illness.”
My friends and family told me I am a kind, caring, and loving person. Those are my characteristics, not the sadness, emotional episodes, and other symptoms of my sickness. It took me time to convince myself that I am a wonderful person who happens to have a sickness.
With the help of my therapist, I started listing the positive qualities about myself. In time I was able to find myself. I learned what kind of person I really am and that God has a purpose for me on this earth. He allowed me to struggle so I can share my experience with others. I am much more than a mental illness and so are you. Knowing who I am helps me stand in the light.