Sometimes I find it difficult to separate who I really am from my depression. For example, is being cynical or quick to point out the negative part of my personality or part of my depression? If I practice looking on the bright side and finding the positives in life, is that directly opposite from my personality or is it just a way to manage the illness of depression?
I guess I’ ve struggled with this idea ever since I was diagnosed with depression. It was as though the doctor told me that everything that had previously defined me wasn ’t really me but rather an illness that masqueraded as me. It was a difficult concept to grasp. If I’m not my depression, what am I?
After struggling with this concept for about 15 years, I’ ve come up with some ideas.
First of all, if I am to define myself, I am so much more than my depression. I am a warm, loving and caring person. My husband often teases me about my caring nature and warns me that I just cannot bring homeless people home because I want to help. Although I do realize that would be slightly reckless behaviour, my heart goes out to them and all others that I see in need. This is a part of who I am.
I am also a very creative person. I need a creative outlet, whether it is writing, reading, crafting, decorating my house or just colouring with my kids. Sometimes it feels like I will burst if I can’t release that creativity in some way. This is a part of who I am.
I also think parts of my cynical nature are part of who I am, although this part often gets entwined with depression in ways I find hard to separate. Part of this nature is critical thinking, something I believe is important in all aspects of life. I don’t believe things blindly, I question everything until I am comfortable with the answer. Yes, this can make me a difficult person at times, but I don’t believe in blind acceptance. It’s part of who I am.
I also love playing the devil’s advocate in a debate. I can’t count the number of times I’ ve voice an opinion I didn ’t agree with, just to point out another point of view. I’ll usually end the conversation agreeing with the person, but feel the need to champion other viewpoints. I’m not sure if it’s to bring about a more enlightened conversation or because I really like pushing people’s buttons, but that’s part of who I am.
Am I a depressed individual with a dreary outlook on life? I don’t think so. Although I usually see the glass as half empty, I refuse to let my depression define who I am. I am so much more than a chemical imbalance playing havoc on my mind.
I refuse the lay in bed all day and ponder the hopelessness of it all. I refuse to let the negative things of my day play on a loop in my head, bringing me down to a dark place. I refuse to let depression define me or even be a personality trait. I am so much more than my depression.