First 30 Days Blog

30 jul

Who Am I? How Depression Affects Identity

Jope2When you think of an identity thief, you probably envision an anonymous person stockpiling your social security number, credit card numbers and other identifying information. Unfortunately, there’s another identity thief to contend with: Depression.

Just like a human identity thief, depression doesn’t care who you are. Both thieves simply want to take everything they can from you.

The person you are and the traits you possess can be altered dramatically when depression wreaks havoc. In my own experience, I went from being a fairly confident person to someone with no self esteem or interests. The energy I once had to do the things I enjoyed was gone. In fact, simply existing was too exhausting at times. I felt like a stranger to myself.

Depression, the identity thief, ruins your concentration. Your views are clouded and instead of seeing the world through a realistic lens, your thoughts are skewed. You question your value, appearance and purpose. Depression has taken what it came for: Your identity.

The difference between a traditional identity thief and depression is the length of time it takes for your identity to be stolen. A few keystrokes and that faceless person now possesses your bank account number. Depression can take awhile to settle in, but eventually the plans you made or the hopes you had are swept away. Over time, little by little, depression stopped me from doing the things that defined who I was so I had to ask “Who have I become?”

“I’m naturally a worrier and anxious…”

Pre-depression, I was always a worrier with an anxious streak – even on my happiest days. Those personality traits have always been part of my identity, but of course, depression didn’t steal those from me. It only made them worse.

Healing from these changes is not unlike getting your financial identity back, it takes patience. You must actively reclaim your confidence and other facets tied to your identity.

The first step is to challenge your thinking.

Here’s an example: You’re depressed because you think you’re failing at your job. You tell yourself you’ll be fired any day now. Challenge these thoughts with facts. Remind yourself that you received a stellar review from your boss. Think back on the successful projects you’ve been involved in.

Permanent or Temporary?

Whether depression and identity are eternally entwined is up for debate. Hopefully, the loss of identity is temporary, but depression as a piece of your personal story is permanent.

Based on my own experience, I’m aware there’s always a chance I could face this illness again despite being healthy for some time now. I’ll probably always have to be more vigilant about recognizing certain triggers and behaviors. The permanent (and happy) part? Having a much clearer sense of what keeps me healthy.

Jennifer Jope is the author of www.thebrainpain.wordpress.com, where she documents her own struggles with depression, including what she learned in a behavioral health program. Her health writing has appeared in Dr. Andrew Weil’s Self Healing Newsletter and Body1.com.

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Posted by Jen Jope on July 30th, 2014 in Uncategorized | 0 comments

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