How to Recognize That You Are Not Defined by Your Diagnosis

How to Recognize That You Are Not Defined by Your Diagnosis

To define yourself by substance abuse or mental health conditions is not accurate

You are not defined by your mental health diagnosis or substance abuse. While each of these conditions presents unique challenges, there is much more to you than a label such as being called an alcoholic or having bipolar disorder. In many cases, substance abuse can be closely related to an undiagnosed mental disorder worse. When you get sober, it is possible the symptoms will lessen. The following are other ideas to consider about your diagnosis:

Your Identity Is Not Attached to Any One Thing

You are a mother, father, son, daughter, sister, brother, friend and co-worker. You have different interests, hobbies and things you enjoy to do. You personality is unique. You process information in a different way than anyone else. To define yourself by substance abuse or mental health conditions is not accurate. It is the same as judging what a 500-piece puzzle will look like after seeing a couple of the pieces. Do not fall for this myth. In most if not all cases, you are allowing fear and the opinions of a few select people control you. The reality is you are often too hard on yourself. When you are struggling with substance abuse, you are not thinking clearly. If you have a mental disorder such as depression, you know you struggle with being positive and having a healthy attitude, which is very closely tied to your self-esteem.

According to , over 23.5 million Americans have successfully overcome a problem with drugs or alcohol. And this statistic is from 2012, so the number is higher today. If over 23.5 million people have overcome their struggles with substance abuse, you know you can too. That is approximately enough people to reach around the entire world if all of those people stood next to each other fingertip to fingertip.

Your Personal Struggles May Be Connected

For example, let’s say you struggle with drinking too much alcohol. If you have depression, this will make it more severe. People who are depressed and drink too much have more frequent and severe episodes of depression. Because of this, they are more likely to think about suicide, per this source. While it may appear drinking is reducing stress, many times it has the opposite effect on your body. You will actually feel more depressed especially the next morning when you wake up with a hangover.

Do Not Compare Yourself to Others With Similar Struggles

While you can learn from others who are alcoholics or have mental health issues, do not assume that their situation is the same as yours. In many cases, alcoholics drink to cope with stress, but not everyone gets stressed for the same reasons. There can be many different reasons why an individual decides to drink. In some situations, part of the reason is genetic, or maybe it is to cope with some form of stress from their job. Just keep in mind that you are a unique person. You also make your own decisions. No one else makes choices for you.

Get Support to Help

Getting support may sound scary at first, but it really is not. This can mean talking to a friend, family member or your doctor. One of the most helpful forms of support is to receive therapy, which means talking with a therapist. When you communicate with a therapist, you can get outside perspective to encourage you and also to remind you about the positive things in your life. If you struggle with mental health issues, it is easy to see everything through a darker lens. Talking out loud about your feelings also will allow you to process how you really feel. It is easy to see the flawed logic in some of the thoughts inside your head. If you constantly think negative thoughts, they can become very real to you, but saying the thoughts out loud takes away their power. For example, if you were to think, “All I am is a worthless, miserable person,” but not do anything about it, you give that thought tremendous power. A therapist will help you learn to think positively and to affirm yourself. If you were to help serve others in some way, then you could say to yourself, “I am valuable. I matter. I am helping other people make their lives better.” This shift of mindset is very clear and also very powerful. It does take time to adopt to a new way of thinking. Old habits are hard to break on your own, and this is why it is so important to get outside help.

If you have any questions about mental health or other concerns about addiction, please call our toll-free, 24 hour helpline. Our counselors have been trained in these specific areas. The person you talk with will be glad to listen to you and help you move forward so you can live a healthy life.