Does Your Identity with Mental Illness Hurt Your Recovery?
Your identity with mental illness can hurt your recovery. Many people identify with suffering from a mental illness and it becomes a part of who they are. This identity with their mental illness can hurt their recovery as they become so attached to the mental health label they do not know who they are without it. Being depressed, anxious, or mentally unwell in any capacity is how they know and see themselves. They cannot fully recover because they are carrying this part of themselves so close, they cannot or don’t know how to let it go.
My Identity with Mental Illness Deterred Recovery
I’ve experienced what labeling myself as depressed has done to my mental illness recovery. It became a part of who I was and I didn’t know how to release it or change it. I would be well on my way to depression recovery, feeling strong and positive, and then I would feel like a part of myself was missing. That part of myself was the mental illness, the depression that I had become so accustomed to feeling. It felt like it was easier for me to feel sad, lonely, and tired then it was to feel alive, happy, and full of energy. The former was what I was the most used to and most comfortable with.
I Wrote a New Story About My Identity with Mental Illness and Recovery
Once I had this awareness, that my label as suffering from depression was actually hurting me more than it was helping me, I decided to write a new story. A story where I was no longer that depressed girl, I was a woman who had overcome depression and mental illness.
Every day I told myself it was easy to feel happy, vibrant, and full of energy. I made it a choice to spring out of bed with a smile, to exercise and eat well, and fill my mind with beautiful, empowering thoughts. I no longer believed I was depressed. I wrote a new chapter where my mental illness was behind me, and my identity with mental illness lessened more and more.
How to Change Your Identity with Mental Illness
I know removing the label, your identity with mental illness, and writing a new story sounds a bit simplistic but it is extremely powerful. The way we picture ourselves and think of ourselves is how we are going to act. If we believe we are mentally ill, if we believe we are depressed, if we believe we are anxious, that is how we are going to act. But if we start believing different things about ourselves, we will act in accordance with these new beliefs and identity.
Begin by writing out your old identity, all of the negative things you believe about yourself, and then tear that piece of paper or burn it. Next, write out your new, positive, mentally healthy identity, and record yourself reading it out loud. Listen to that recording and read it out loud every day in order to begin to rewire your new story in mental illness recovery.
Zacharakis, N. (2018, January 16). Does Your Identity with Mental Illness Hurt Your Recovery?, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2019, September 17 from https://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/recoveringfrommentalillness/2018/01/does-your-identity-with-mental-illness-hurt-your-recovery