The Irrational Mind

Establishing Your Identity Separate From Your Mental Illness

You are not your mental illness. identity

Just like you are not your career, your education, or your material possessions, you are not your disease.

It can be difficult to separate your “real” identity from your irrational mind. I get that.

When I first started therapy for OCD and depression, I spent a lot of time establishing boundaries between my OCD mind and my “normal” mind. Just like boundaries need to be established in your relationships with others in your life, your brain needs boundaries. That applies to everyone, because even without diagnosed mental illnesses, everyone deals with cognitive distortions.

In some of the medical editing work that I do, our editing style guide calls the term “cancer patients” inflammatory language. We’re tasked to change the wording to “patients with cancer.”

Seem a little too PC for you?

These people have cancer. In the English language, the adjective preceding the noun is modifying it.

“Cancer” is modifying the patients.

Modify: Verb, make partial changes to something

By separating the word “cancer” from the word “patient,” we are humanizing the patient again. We are taking power away from the word.

“Words are pale shadows of forgotten names. As names have power, words have power. Words can light fires in the minds of men. Words can wring tears from the hardest hearts.”
― Patrick RothfussThe Name of the Wind

Don’t let your mental illness modify you. Take control of it. Get the help that you need.

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