124: Who I am Not

I am many things. A daughter, a sister, a friend. I’m a student, a researcher, a writer. I am many things but I am not my depression, my anxiety, my obsessive compulsive disorder.

It was this time last year that I was hospitalized for severe depression. I didn’t even know that it was Cinco de Mayo then. Not like it mattered; I was in a psychiatric ward with no allowance to the outside world.

Being in the hospital, you only focus on yourself. There are groups that you go through in the same recreation room throughout the day to understand the mental illness you are dealing with. By this, it’s hard to draw the line between yourself as a person and the state of your mental health.

After being released, I still had a hard time differentiating between who I am as a person and the handful of mental illnesses I had been diagnosed with. I thought of myself as my depression, my anxiety, my obsessive compulsive disorder. Combined with the unfortunate stigma surrounding mental illness, I looked down on myself as a person.

It wasn’t until a certain exercise in an intensive outpatient program over the summer that I realized the extent of my identity. The therapist first told us to draw a bubble with “me” written in the center. Then she told us to write the particular illness or illnesses we have in their own bubbles around the first one. Finally, she told us to write who we are to others and our interests in other bubbles surrounding those original drawings.

With that inspiration, I was to fill up the majority of the page with bubbles other than my mental illnesses. That drawing showed that I am so much more than a few diagnoses.

I am many things. 

via See Jane Write: 365 Blog Post Ideas and Writing Prompts