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You Are Not Your Disorder

The following are words for those who battle a mental disorder such as depression, anxiety, or another darkness. This is me reminding you that you’re not abnormal, you’re not inferior, and your life is incredibly meaningful. You have much to give to the world, despite the lies you hear in the dark.

No matter what other people say or do in response to your disorder, you are no less a creature made in the image of God. Those people break just the same as us…They’re just better liars.

I’ve struggled with anxiety and depression for most of my life, which has not always been easy to discuss due to fear of rejection and isolation. As my disorder continued to develop, I began seeking help and comfort from friends and acquaintances, only to see some of them grow distant. My “cool” factor went way down…In fact, it probably faded into oblivion the more my wounds showed on the outside. But then again, being cool isn’t all that. The older I get, being authentic matters much more to me.

As I have become more honest about my disorder the past several years, I have also learned a valuable truth: we are not our disorders.

In case you live on another planet, I’ll let you in on a secret: we’re all broken, in one way or another. None of us make it out of this life without scars and wounds. Most people are simply incredible actors, creatively hiding their dysfunction to be validated, loved, and appreciated without ever truly being known.

For many years, there have been people who defined me by my disorder rather than my true identity. Often, when people don’t understand what it’s like to feel shattered and vulnerable, they disappear from the lives of those who do. It’s too messy. It’s too real.

You can probably relate to the feelings of rejection and insignificance that result when people run away from our brokenness. Some so-called “friends” will abandon you, true friends will love you, and some people will hurt you; but they never had power to determine your worth.

Despite how you may feel in this moment, you are not alone, there are people who can call out the best in you, and you are not your disorder. You are created to know God, to love, to create, to dream, and to bring light to the darkness. Your disorder does not define you. It never defined you. Healing is possible. You and I must continue to fight with hope for a better tomorrow.

If you’ve been hurt and you’re feeling rejected, here’s something to think about: Jesus was abandoned by his own followers. He was rejected by the religious leaders who knew who he really was – the Son of God – but resisted his teachings for their own selfish ends. If that is how the Son of God is treated when he lived a perfect life of love and sacrifice, how much more will we be rejected by fallen humanity when they see our wounds?

I leave you with this: find a few friends who remind you of your value, who see the best in you, and who love you through the dark nights. These friends aren’t easy to find, but they do exist. Seek healing, talk with a professional who has dedicated their lives to helping people with similar struggles, and never give up on hope. We’re in this together, you and I. You have so much to offer this world that may be hard to see in the dark, but keep fighting. Light wins in the end.