The illness and me

I try not to over-identify with my mental illness. It is part of me, but not all of me. I have heard people suggest it is something separate. What is the illness vs what is me? I understand that. There are symptoms, behaviors that aren’t typical for me.

For me, I am a person with a mental illness, like I am a person with green eyes.. I don’t know how to tease the two apart.

There was a point, after diagnosis, when I would interpret any change in mood as a symptom. I would micro-manage my illness. I spent a lot of time reading and trying to make sense of it all.

To me, part of my healing, was to learn to trust that a good day could be a good day and a bad mood could be normal. That I could relax and not worry so much.

I still spend a lot of time on mental illness websites, volunteering for mental health organizations, going to support groups but at least sometimes I feel like I can share and educate and give back.


My name is Lori. I am a wife and mother. My children are teenagers. I work as a peer mentor and volunteer for NAMI. I have been diagnosed with schizoaffective disorder, bipolar type

2 thoughts on “The illness and me

  1. Thank you, Lori, for sharing your perspective. It is difficult to tease apart our diagnosis from who we are when our diagnosis affects how we think, how we experience life. But, I do think that we are more than our diagnosis. Just as you are both a mother, and more than a mother. Being a mother is part of you, but you are also a volunteer and a mental health educator and advocate.

    • Thanks for replying

      I don’t think my illness compares to roles I have, but I can compare to another illness. I have well-controlled diabetes. Sometimes, it is frustrating with an illness when you can do all the right things and the lab values don’t co-operate. But, for the most part I guess I could tell what is the diabetes by measuring my blood sugar. I just don’t know how to know when there is no test and the illness does effect behavior and thoughts.

      I agree. I am more than a diabetic with schizoaffective disorder and green eyes. I didn’t mean to come across differently. I just read somewhere that a person could remember how they used to be and compare it to how they were when they had symptoms. I think I was undiagnosed for many years, so that doesn’t work for me, but it sounds helpful.

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