You Are Not Your Illness

Many of us living with addictions and mental illnesses can find ourselves so consumed with our afflictions that we end up centering our identities around them and creating our lives based upon them. As we recover, we come to see that our illnesses are just one part of us. They don’t have to define all of who we are. We can reclaim all the lost parts of us – the parts that we’ve neglected and forgotten in dealing with our illnesses.

We are complicated, multifaceted people with hopes, dreams, ambitions, gifts and talents. Our illnesses make us feel like we’ve lost everything, like we’re no longer who we once were, like we can never get ourselves back. With time and reflection, however, we can rediscover the soul of the person that has been buried underneath all the dysfunction and destructiveness. That soul has been suffering but hasn’t been destroyed. It can be salvaged.

Take some time to remember the interests and passions you loved before your illness took over. What kinds of things did you enjoy? What lit you up? What gave you a sense of purpose and fulfillment? Who in your life helped you to feel like yourself? These things and people are clues to rediscovering your missing self. Our illnesses have a way of drowning out the person we once were, but it’s still there, within us. We just have to look for it.

It doesn’t matter how long we’ve been struggling with our particular illnesses. Our souls are indestructible. We often think things like, “It’s been years since I was happy. It’s been years since I smiled. I can’t remember the last time I felt fulfilled.” That is all the more reason to give some energy to reigniting the fire of our passions. We still have life to live. It’s not too late. We live in a unique time when there are countless resources readily available. Classes, interest groups, volunteer opportunities, local activities, are all accessible locally and online.

If you’re struggling to find yourself again, talk to loved ones, join a support group, or find a therapist, any of whom can help you with the self-rediscovery process. You are not your illness. Keep telling yourself that. It can be scary to feel like we’ve lost ourselves. With time and patience, however, you’ll find your true self again.

We can help support you in this journey. Call (800) 871-5440 for more information.
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