Schizophrenia Is Not My Only Identity

July 12, 2023 Rebecca Chamaa

I want to make it clear that my identity is not just related to my schizophrenia. For nearly seven years, during my thirties, I lived almost schizophrenia and anxiety symptom-free. It was before I developed an anxiety disorder, and shortly after the period where I became treatment compliant and took my medication every day. I look back at that time as remarkable.

During those seven years, I worked full-time. I traveled internationally and domestically, and I lifted weights as a hobby. I met with friends regularly to play racquetball, take yoga classes, and go hiking. I was always in training programs and classes to learn new skills. I have to be honest and say that I feel a certain amount of grief when I look back at that time and think of all the things I participated in and what I was capable of. 

Schizophrenia Is Only One Part of My Identity

Even though I have far fewer hobbies, can no longer hold a full-time job, and my daily life is much more complicated due to increased symptoms, schizophrenia is still not my only identity. Another way to say what I am getting at is I am more than my diagnosis, no matter how much I have lost over the years.

One thing that brings me the most pleasure is telling people I have been married for 25 years. I know that many people older than me have been married for 50 years or more, but a quarter of a century is a long time and a significant portion of my life. 

Another thing I delight in talking about is my education, not so much my college degree but all the programs, classes, workshops, and training I have completed to continue to learn new things. The only time I'm not in a class is when I am psychotic and can't make sense of the world or try to learn new information.

I also like to talk about the workshops and presentations I lead. There are dozens of other topics, like travel, art, family, etc., that I also like engaging in conversation about. I am pointing this out because so much can make up life's details, events, and circumstances, even with a diagnosis like chronic paranoid schizophrenia or generalized anxiety disorder (GAD).

When I introduce myself to people, I don't talk about the symptoms I live with or the medications I take. I start by talking about the things I love and am interested in. Then eventually, if trust is established and the time seems right, I might add that I live with mental illness. If I do not have a mental health emergency, that information is secondary, not primary. My identity is much more than schizophrenia. 

APA Reference
Chamaa, R. (2023, July 12). Schizophrenia Is Not My Only Identity, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, June 18 from

Author: Rebecca Chamaa

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