“Definitions belong to the definers, not the defined.”― Toni Morrison, Beloved.
When asked “Who are you?” what would your reply be?
The academic? The athlete? The musician? The boyfriend? The wife? The parent? The comedian? The pretty one? The rebel? Or even more distressing, the mentally ill?
Having something that you excel at, that sets you apart from everyone else, if healthy, can be such a beautiful expression of uniqueness; something to embrace, something to be passionate about, something to be proud of.
However, to define yourself as one thing, to live in fear that without this label you’d be nothing, can’t be healthy. There is no one in this world that can be defined as one thing. Everyone I’ve ever met has so many different qualities that come together to form a unique, captivating, fascinating individual. Dropping one quality, one label, will never mean your identity is lost. I truly believe obsession can never be healthy.
When living with a mental illness, the thoughts that consume your mind can be so powerful and overwhelming there is no space for you to think about anything else, and therefore, it is so easy to think there is nothing else to you. You are never defined by your mental illness. You may have depression, but you are not the depressive. You may have anorexia, but you are not the anorexic.
It’s taken me a long time to realise that I do not have to define myself as one thing, without labels, I am still Maddy. For now, the Maddy without labels is fine for me.
“People are too complicated to have simple labels.”― Philip Pullman, The Amber Spyglass.