For those of us struggling with mental illness, we have a tendency to allow our mental health issues to define us and to let the stigmas around mental illness control our lives. We craft our identities around our struggles with illness. They become the foundation for our self-perception. They taint our self-image and our feelings of self-worth. We see ourselves as mentally ill first and foremost, and all of our other personality traits and attributes become less important to us and recede from our consciousness. Memories of who we were before our mental illnesses worsened become lost to us. We forget everything we loved about ourselves and our lives. Our mental health issues become the entirety of how we view ourselves and how we self-identify. How can we stop letting our mental illnesses define us?
It can help us tremendously to stop thinking of mental illness as a defect, as a sign of weakness, as a flaw. We could choose to see our mental health issues as sources of strength, as challenges that empower us, as valuable lessons that we’re meant to learn and spiritual tests we’re being given as divine guidance. The more we start to see our struggles in this more positive, empowering light, the more we open our hearts to believing in ourselves again. We develop renewed self-confidence and rejuvenated faith in our ability to get well. We see ourselves not as victims of our mental illnesses but as survivors of them. We see ourselves as being capable, strong and powerful, as having managed to thrive despite living with what has felt like insurmountable odds stacked against us.
Part of our recovery work involves self-exploration and personal introspection. We’ve sacrificed much of who we are to our mental illnesses, addictions and life challenges. Let’s start giving more thought to what kind of person we want to be, what goals we want to set for ourselves, what ambitions we have, what dreams we want to pursue. Let’s try to practice having more gratitude for our many blessings and positive attributes and give thought to what we value about ourselves and what our loved ones appreciate about us. Let’s stop thinking about how much we’ve been limited by our mental illnesses and focus instead on the infinite potential we have to transcend those limitations. We can build the foundation for our identity around the person we want to be, the person we’re working towards becoming, rather than the pain and hardship of our mental health issues.
The community of Riverside Recovery has personal experience with addiction and the feelings of hopelessness and disconnection that come with it. We’re here to help you reclaim the life you love. Call (800) 871-5440 today.