Mental health issues impact people’s moods and can affect how they see themselves and their identity. According to NAMI (National Alliance on Mental illness), millions of people struggle with mental illness. Whether you have bipolar disorder, anxiety or depression, or any other condition, mental illness is difficult. Whether you have it or someone you love does, you understand that it is full of challenges. One of the issues that people struggle with is understanding how to integrate their mental illness into their identity. Here is how living with mental health issues impacts a person’s identity.
Some people prefer to use a person-first language. An individual who has bipolar disorder could use this sort of language. For example, they will say, “I live with bipolar disorder.” That’s different from stating, “I am bipolar.” When you say, “I live with bipolar disorder,” it emphasizes the person first. You are an individual first, rather than your illness. It’s crucial to understand living with a mental illness does not mean you’re an illness. You are not “schizophrenia” or “depression.” Instead, you live with depression, or you have schizophrenia. That’s what a person-first language aims to show us.
Understand who you are aside from mental illness
When you live with mental illness, it can feel like it consumes your life. There are moments when it’s hard to focus because you’re in emotional pain. Understand that you’re not alone in those feelings. Many people struggle to balance their mental health. Sometimes it’s difficult to think about anything else other than your symptoms. For example, those with panic disorder may not be able to focus on other things when they’re dealing with a panic attack. However, it’s crucial to remember that mental illness is only part of who you are.
You are also someone who has hobbies. Perhaps you like to go out dancing. Maybe you play the cello, or you’re a skilled soccer player. Mental illness doesn’t have to define who you are. It is something that you manage, but it’s not you. It’s important to acknowledge the things that you love in your life that are outside of the confines of your mental health condition.
Validate your mental illness
Your mental illness is a part of who you are. It’s important to acknowledge that these are struggles you have. You can talk about these issues with a licensed mental health professional. It can help to discuss mental health challenges so that you understand your feelings are real and your struggles are valid. Don’t let anybody tell you that mental illness isn’t real.
Just because people cannot see mental illness as a physical impairment doesn’t mean that it doesn’t impact you. In fact, it may affect you even more because others don’t see what you’re going through with their eyes. You can use person-first language but also acknowledge that you have a medical condition: mental illness.
Talk about mental illness in therapy.
It’s not easy to live with a mental health issue, but it is possible. One place where you could talk about it is with a licensed mental health professional. Whether you see somebody online or in your local area, you have the right to discuss anything you want to with a licensed therapist. Therapists and counselors are skilled at understanding mental health issues.
They can help you learn coping skills when you’re struggling. You could go to a therapist to learn how to manage your everyday life stressors. You don’t necessarily have to have a mental illness to see a counselor. If you are curious about how therapy can help, you can read more about it. Click here to find out more about mental health, therapy, and how it can support you.
Marie Miguel has been a writing and research expert for nearly a decade, covering a variety of health- related topics. Currently, she is contributing to the expansion and growth of a free online mental health resource with MyTherapist.com. With an interest and dedication to addressing stigmas associated with mental health, she continues to specifically target subjects related to anxiety and depression.