Do you know who you are? Are you familiar with your true self? This is a question I used to ask myself often. “Who am I?” I could not answer this question because I didn’t know the answer. I could never remember a time when I didn’t have symptoms of my illness. They began when I was in High School and continue to this day and they defined me. I could never show who I really was beneath the illness because I didn’t know I was ill. I would show behaviors I didn’t have an explanation for. I would either be really up or really down. I remember lying to my Mom and telling her I couldn’t go to school because I was having cramps. The reality was I was so racked with depression that I couldn’t get out of bed. She never knew. I am sure I acted in ways that the people around me thought odd but they never pressed me as to why. I couldn’t have answered that question anyhow. This unknowing of myself continued well after I was diagnosed. Instead of a frightened girl acting strange and down, I became a woman defined by my illness. I, at that time, was afraid to figure out who I really was, It was a question that stayed with me. It was not until I started serving God with my whole heart that I found out who I really was. I was a child of the Most High God.
I lived in fear that people would find out I was Bipolar. But as I began to read and study God’s word I found that fear is a liar. In Colossians 3: 9-10 it says that “I have put off the old man and have put on the new man. which is renewed in the knowledge after the image of Him Who created me” (AMP). Again, the theme of renewal. Once I learned that the old me no longer existed and I was made new in the light of God’s grace, I began to give myself grace. I quit beating myself up for being depressed or being manic. This was my new reality. Symptoms are going to happen. My illness is not going to go away. So how does this mesh with who God says that I am. “I am God’s workmanship, created in Christ unto good works” ( Ephesians 2:10); “I am a partaker of His divine nature” (2 Peter 1: 3-4); ” I am a believer, and the light of the Gospel shines in my mind” (2 Corinthians 4:4). There are so many verses that tell us who we are in Christ. This knowledge allows me to be authentic in front of others. I no longer have fear that people will judge me based on my illness. I know they will, but I put myself out there anyway. I have learned that I mean more to God, and am loved and cherished by Him so other’s opinions do not matter. The only way I am going to change the landscape of the stigma centered on mental illness is to brave enough to talk about my experiences. But I can do this now without fear. Jesus was criticized and judged while He walked this earth and He was perfect. I am beautifully flawed so what makes me think I will not be judged as well. It goes with the territory. But you can know who you really are in light of the Scriptures. Look them up, meditate on them. Get them down deep in your soul so you know who you really are. You are not others opinions of you. You are not even your opinion of yourself. You are a new creature in Christ ( 2 Corinthians 5:17). Begin to see yourself through this lens and you will soon discover your authentic self.