Monthly Archives: February 2015

Who am I?

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It’s a question we ask ourselves many times over the course of our lives, especially when we are younger.

Who am I?

It can be difficult to answer since many people don’t take the time to get to know themselves. They don’t take the time to figure out what they want, what they believe, what their dreams are or what their goals are.

Instead, many of us let other people or status or jobs define who we are.

An authority figure once told you that you are not very smart and wouldn’t do much in life. So, who are you? I am dumb and useless.

You were born into a family with lots of money. So, who are you? I am wealthy and can have anything I want.

Your marriage failed and you’ve split from your spouse. So, who are you? I am a divorced, single parent.

You started at a company at a young age and kept getting promoted. Twenty years later, you are Vice President of a company that you’re not even sure you enjoy working for. So, who are you? A person with a high paying, high profile job.

Do you understand the point I am trying to make? We all take one or two things in our lives and let that specific thing define who we are, whether it is a job, relationship, where we were born or something someone once said to us.

But what people seem to forget so often is that only they can decide who they are.

A job does not define you. A relationship is not who you are. Having lots of money doesn’t say anything about your personality. And something someone once said to you or about you doesn’t make it true.

I spent a long time trying to figure out who I am. I’ve taken on many roles as I tried to find an identity. Mostly I changed roles based on my situation, often in a desperate attempt to try to fit in.

I’ve been the outcast; I’ve been part of the popular crowd; I’ve been the smart one; I’ve been the clown; I’ve been kind; I’ve been mean; I’ve been cocky; I’ve been humble; I’ve been the fun, drunk party girl; I’ve been boring; I’ve been the one who walks the line; I’ve been the law-breaker; I’ve been loud; I’ve been quiet; I’ve been the bullied; I’ve been the bully; I’ve been the shopaholic who wears designer jeans; I’ve been the bargain hunter who buys clothes for less than $10; I’ve been sane; I’ve been crazy; I’ve been ┬áthe girl with depression; I’ve been the fighter; I’ve been the rebel; I’ve been the church girl.

I could go on, but the point is made. I’ve tried to fit into various stereotypes in an effort to discover who I am and where I belong. Yet, none of the above things define me. Some may still apply to me today, but many don’t. However, none of them on their own represent the whole of me.

People are complicated and unique and interesting and beautiful. None of us can be defined by one thing. There are so many things that make up who we are. Yet we often get stuck on one or two things that we allow ourselves to think encompasses all of us.

We are so much more intricate than that!

I am lucky that at 31 years old I know exactly who I am. Many don’t reach this discovery until much later in life. It doesn’t mean I have everything figured out. It doesn’t mean I know where I’ll be in 5 years. It doesn’t mean my life is planned.

It means I know myself. It means that no matter what life throws at me, what changes or struggles I face, I know who I am deep down inside and I will remain that person at my core.

Sure, I’ll change and grow and evolve as life goes on. But my values and beliefs will remain constant. I know my limits. I know the risks I’m willing to take. I know how I want to treat others and how I want to be treated. I know what makes me laugh and I know what makes me cry. I know the things that I will and won’t compromise on. I know my value and my worth. I know the value and worth of those in my life. I know when to stick it out and when to walk away. I know what is right for me and what is not. I know my gifts and I know my flaws. I know what I’m good at and what I am not.

Most importantly I know that someone else’s opinion of me doesn’t change who I am. No one word can define me. No one can steal my sense of self.

I know who I am.

Who are you?

Have you taken the time to discover yourself? Do you truly know yourself inside and out?

If you don’t, I pray you will take the time to learn who you are. You are not your job, your wealth or your relationship status. You are not the mistake you made yesterday or the challenge you will face tomorrow. You are not your illness. You cannot be defined by one thing.

Take the time. Go and find yourself. Know your talents, and acknowledge your faults. Embrace your gifts and your imperfections.

Once you know who you are, you’ll find a sense of peace that can’t be taken away. You’ll be able to stand up for yourself and for what you believe in. You’ll know the answers to decisions that were difficult to make before.

Most importantly, don’t ever let someone or something tell you who you are.

And never apologize or make excuses for who you are. Accept yourself. Love yourself.

And yes, that is a picture of me, all dressed up, hoola-hooping at a wedding. Because I am someone who loves to have fun!

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Fighter

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On Friday I had an appointment with my counsellor. I love counselling. I think it is the best and that everyone should go whether they are living happy or not-so-happy lives. It is amazing what you discover about yourself as you are asked questions and you respond in the moment. I have had countless revelations during years of counselling that have helped me know myself better, understand myself better, and see why I am the way I am.

On Friday, as we were discussing my struggles with depression, I said that every time I go through a dark period I come out stronger and smarter. My counsellor got really excited and saw this statement as a break through in my thought process regarding my illness.

As I processed what I said over the last few days I realized how powerful that revelation is. I knew it already but had never really acknowledged it or spent much time thinking about it. But it is so true. Every battle I have with my depression, I come out of it a little bit wiser and a little bit stronger.

I look back over the last twenty years of war with this illness, and I see the progress I’ve made. The ways that I responded to my depression when I was younger were quite destructive. I turned to cutting, drugs and alcohol in times of need because I just wanted the pain to stop. I was drowning and desperately needed to escape.

I haven’t cut myself in five years. I haven’t touched a drug in eight years. I barely drink alcohol, and when I do, it’s usually no more than one glass. I am no longer trying to escape. I am learning to accept my illness and I have found ways to fight it that do not include self harm.

I’ve taken the time to learn about and understand my disease. I’ve not only taken steps toward healthy recovery, I’ve taken leaps. Though there have been many times when I just wanted to give up, something inside me kept fighting.

I’ve always had a strong will to live. Even at times when I was suicidal, deep down I knew I’d never follow through. My life is worth fighting for. I am worth fighting for.

I believe I am here for a reason. I believe that I have this disease for a reason. I don’t believe God gave me depression, but He has allowed me to endure it. And He has given me the strength to fight. And I believe He can take all my struggles and all my pain and use them to create something good.

I can help others who go through the same struggles. I can help others with mental illness. Simply by sharing my story and vowing to never give up the fight.

Knowing these things does not make my illness easier. It does not mean the depression is going to disappear. It does not mean there won’t be days when I can’t get out of bed.

But it does mean I’ll get through it. It means I will survive. It means I will come out stronger and smarter.

Life isn’t easy, no matter what you are faced with. Whether it’s mental illness, single parenting, the end of a relationship, losing your job, losing a loved one or any of the other many many things that can go wrong. It’s not easy.

But it’s still worth fighting for. You are worth fighting for.

I pray you never forget that.