3. Identity disturbance: markedly and persistently unstable self image or sense of self.
This is a symptom that I’m constantly struggling with. Every day really. Look back, I’ve struggled with this long before my diagnosis but I never knew what an identity disturbance was.
I’ll personalise a definition that was given in this article by verywellmind.com; this is by far the best definition of identity that I’ve read.
Most experts view identity as your overarching sense and view of yourself. A stable sense of identity means being able to see yourself as the same person in the past, present, and future. In addition, a stable sense of self requires the ability to view yourself in one way despite the fact that sometimes you may behave in contradictory ways.
Identity is quite broad and includes many aspects of the self. Your sense of self or identity is probably made up of your beliefs, attitudes, abilities, history, ways of behaving, personality, temperament, knowledge, opinions, and roles. Identity can be thought of as your self-definition; it’s the glue that holds together all of these diverse aspects of yourself.
I’ll break that down.
I don’t have an overarching sense or view of myself. Some hours I think that I’m a good person, sometimes I think I deserve every little stress that comes my way, sometimes I think I’m naturally maternal, sometimes I think I’m not suited to parenting, sometimes I think I’m smart, sometimes I think I’m too old to be smart any more. The changes in my perception of self come around by such minor changes that it’s ridiculous really! If I have a good day and my kids are well behaved etc, I’m maternal. If later on I have a hard time with them acting out, I wasn’t made for children. I guess the normal and stable thought process would be “No I’m not a perfect mother, my children aren’t perfect, but we do pretty good”. I really struggle to find the balance in those thoughts and even though that logically we do okay and we’re a good little unit, my feelings don’t always run to the same beat of my brain. My perception of who I am, who I want to be changes all of the time. It’s exhausting really, but better than it was when I wasn’t in therapy. The cycles become more frequent when I’m poorly or triggered by something.
All of the aspects of personality as mentioned in the quote change so frequently too. I’m never really sure what I believe in. Am I Christian? Am I spiritual? Am I Buddhist? Am I agnostic? Athiest? Etc etc. I genuinely don’t know! Just because I’m something one day doesn’t mean I’ll be it the next. I’ve been bisexual, lesbian, straight. I’ve wanted to be a nurse, a carer, a psychologist, a scientist, a foster carer, an administrator, an accountant. Hobbies don’t tend to stick around for very long. In the last few years I’ve tried learning languages (Spanish and French), the piano, how to write creatively, how to paint. I’ve enjoyed gaming, reading books, walking, photography, watching Netflix, crafts, crochet, colouring, cooking, baking. None seem to last very long really aside form reading.
I think that I have a few tendencies that stick. I don’t give up fighting. It may not always look like it if I’m in the grips of depression or if I’m dissociating a lot, but I try hard every single day to keep on going and to keep improving myself in one way or another.
If I feel as though something is ‘right’ then I’ll pursue it or defend it. If someone I love is hurt then I am too, regardless of the cause.
I always feel far too much guilt for things that are out of control, things that I’ve done wrong or things that I’ve done right.
Who knows who I am? I barely do. This shit is exhausting but I guess I won’t get bored and hopefully neither will my friends or family!