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A Chapter or the Whole Story

Posted Oct 08 2008 7:48am

How do you define your life?  How did you define yourself before the illness and since the illness?  These are important questions because identity is the foundation of our lives.  It's how we present ourselves to the world.  It's the "total package" and we base our decisions on our identity.  For many, the diagnosis brings their identity crashing down like the worldwide financial markets. 

Whether you are ready to admit it or talk about it; your illness is a part of you.  Fortunately your illness doesn't define you.  Your illness is merely one chapter in your life story.  You get to determine whether or not it consumes the remaining pages or shows up as "oh by the way" section within a chapter.  How you frame your health challenge experience depends on a lot of factors including your level of optimism or pessimism.

I know for me personally I end up discussing my health whenever I go have dinner with friends.  When the wine comes around and I pass the question comes up about why don't I drink?  I have one of three options...1) Lie and tell them I don't like alcohol 2) Pretend I have a drinking problem and I'm in recovery (lying isn't for me althought that's usually the other person's assumption 3) Tell the truth that I take medication that doesn't allow me to drink.  Most people will not carry the conversation beyond that point and for those who do I'm fine sharing my health challenge and the alterations I make in life to continue on my journey to wellness.

The choice is yours...a chapter or the whole book.  I choose a chapter.  My illness doens't define me as a person.

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