You are not your diagnosis

I want to lead by saying that mental health diagnoses are real, and they are valid. We should acknowledge them and use that knowledge to understand our state of being and how to navigate the things we’re experiencing.

However, in the cultural breakdown of the stigma behind mental health conditions has come an unnerving sense of identity with the things that ail us.

People talk about their anxiety, their depression, etc. as if it is who they are. The labels are embraced with a badge of honor as people attach their identity to them. That worries me.

A diagnosis helps us understand what we’re experiencing. It makes the scary things tangible as we try to comprehend what we’re grappling with, and how to navigate through it. Yet when we define ourselves by these mental health conditions, we create a self-fulfilling prophecy. You wrap and define yourself in this thing you’re experiencing instead of working your way through it.

While not all mental health conditions are curable, they aren’t who you are. You may experience anxiety, but you are not anxiety. You may experience PTSD, but you are not post-traumatic stress.

These things are not your identity, they’re factors; they’re influences. Your mental health diagnosis describes what you’re experiencing, but you should use that to learn how to treat it. Do not build your identity around the thing that ails you. Understand the thing that ails you so that you can build your life the way you want it to be.

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