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We are the sum of everything that has happened to us in our lives. The good, the bad, and everything in between, all of this makes us who we are. For a long time I thought that having a mental illness was bad.  I convinced myself that I was a bad person because I had one. Now I know that having a mental illness does not make me a bad person.  I understand that my depression does not define me.

What defines you?  You can use your age, gender, or race to define yourself.  You can define yourself by your personality traits. You may even define yourself by the titles you hold in life, like parent or student. There are many ways to define yourself.  For me, I define myself by the qualities that I know I cannot change and the core qualities that make up who I am.

I always wanted to be a good person. But when I became depressed, I thought that having depression meant that you were inherently bad.  Depression is classified as a mental illness.  I saw mental illnesses as a brain defect and to me defective things are bad.  Since having a mental illness was bad, I now saw myself as a bad person.

As I have said in previous posts, my depression was a crucible that challenged me in many complex ways.  Feeling that I needed to redefine myself was one of those challenges.   I thought my depression changed the very essence of who I was.  But, I was viewing my life through a cracked lens and it made things difficult to see. It took me years to see things clearly enough to understand that I didn’t have to redefine myself because of my depression. I was still me.  I was not a depressed person. I was a person who just happened to be depressed. My mental illness did not make me defective or bad person. It just added to the layers of what makes me who I am.

It took me a while, but I have learned that we are defined by more than one thing.  A mental illness cannot define anyone. It may be a part of you, but you are more than one simple aspect of yourself. You are way more than just a mental illness. You are you, and you matter.

 


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