Answering, “Who Am I?” With A Chronic Disease

Grappling with a chronic disease takes a lot away from a person. Even, one's sense of identity.

“Who am I?” is a tricky question because we often mean two very different things. One version of the question is, “Who am I today?” The other version is, “Who am I going to be tomorrow?” Version one is straight forward. You’re a good parent. You care about your community. Chances are, you’re drinking too much and are staying up too late… Just like everyone else. You’re also a hard worker and are too hard on yourself. In concrete terms, you know yourself.

The second question is daunting. How can you answer who you’ll be tomorrow with confidence? You have a hard enough time knowing what you’ll be having for dinner.  It’s an intimidating question because it demands you lay bare and vulnerable your dreams on the chopping block of chance. Yes, you’re hard working but only so much is up to you.  The idea your most closely held dreams may never becoming a reality is truly painful. In some sense, it is easier to keep your dreams to yourself. While they may never come about, at least they’re safe. But, not risking your dreams is a straight line to depression, resentment, and self-loathing.

Now, throw in the complication of a chronic or terminal illness. Lime disease, cancer, going blind. The question, “Who am I going to be tomorrow” becomes profoundly difficult.  It amplifies the fear that holds everyone back from following their dreams. What’s the use of trying?

The answer is that the use is in the trying. Fear or not, the most profound moments of your life will always be fighting for your dreams. That doesn’t stop because of a serious or chronic disease.  There is something good and meaningful in what is important to you. In the deepest sense, your dreams are you.  Research shows fighting for your dreams is a powerful cause of good health, happiness, and longevity. That is because trying to transform your dreams into a reality is the building blocks of life.  Instead of asking, “Who am I,” it might be better to ask, “When I’m gone what do I want my life to have stood for?”

Yonasan Bender, SW graduated from Hebrew University’s School of Social Work. He has his psychotherapy practice at The Place: The Jerusalem Centre for Emotional Wellbeing. To share your thoughts, experiences, questions, or a different perspective, you can reach Yonasan Bender at 053-808-0435 or email him by clicking HERE. To learn more about him and his work, click HERE.

About The Place

The Place is where therapists, individuals and the community connect to create safety, strength and success. At The Place, men and women discover the freedom and safety to move past those issues which are preventing them from living life to its fullest. Our goal is to help each of our clients discover his or her own strengths as powerful tools in the healing process.

The Place is a multi-faceted clinic offering both individual and group therapy, support groups, interactive evenings and lectures, educational classes, and drop-in hours. Our comfortable, confidential, relaxed environment allows clients and their families to explore sensitive issues and create positive change. We believe that the key to mental health and emotional well-being is inside you.

At The Place, male and female therapists work independently or as a team to explore sensitive issues and facilitate positive change for individuals, couples and families from all sectors of the community. Some of our specialties include emotional eating, grief counseling, internet addiction, phobias, anxiety & OCD, childhood challenges, premarital counseling, couples therapy and intimacy issues, postpartum support, personality disorders, psychiatric care, and more. Connect with a caring professional in person at our comfortable Jerusalem offices, or by video, phone, and text. We’re here for you.

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