Today as I walked into the building for outpatient hospitalization, I was happy. This confused me. The reason for my confusion was not that happiness is foreign to me (I have a great capacity for joy and silliness), but that I was about to start day six of intensive group therapy for my suicidal depression… And I was happy.
Sometimes I wonder if I am bipolar. At times I am so incredibly joyful and free-spirited and at times I am so deeply distressed and locked inside my head. I have been told by two psychiatrists now that they don’t believe I have bipolar. When I have severe ups and downs, they switch quickly, sensitive reactions to my thoughts and experiences. In most bipolar disorders, the different emotional states tend to last longer, at least for a week… We shall soon find out almost for sure what the official diagnosis is, as I just took a test for it today. But no matter what the specific diagnosis be, I am an extremely sensitive person and I believe this to be the main reason for my intense range of feelings. A gorgeous piece of music, a sunny day, a stranger smiling at me– these things can make me feel as if I am walking on the clouds. Yet, a classmate calling me stupid, a friend being ill, something not living up to my standards– these things can make me feel as if life is hopeless and I might as well give up. This sensitivity is altogether beautiful and painful. It gives me a greater window of feeling than I think most people have, while it makes me weaker, more easily hurt.
When I met with my therapist this afternoon, she prepared me for the results of the test I took: “There are so many different diagnoses out there, Tanya. I want you to not get wrapped up in what yours is. It is not so much your diagnoses that matters, but how you handle the problem.” I appreciate this. I will do my best not to see the potential diagnoses as labels stapled over my soul. They do not define me.
They do not define me.
As I was discussing mental illnesses with my therapist, I said that “they do not define me.” And I came up with a new positive affirmation that I know will be a wonderful friend to me as I grow: “I choose my identity.”
“Depressed” is not my identity.
“Anxious” is not my identity.
They do not define me.
I choose my identity.
Do you choose yours?