Who Are You? Not your Mental Illness!

A Reflection on Identity by Rea Okerberg

When I ask you, ‘who are you?’ what’s your immediate answer? Right off the bat, I’m sure you’re thinking, ‘My name? My favourite hobbies?’ No. None of these things. I asked this question on social media earlier and the answers I received back was fascinating with how varied they were. Some took their identity from being a parent, some hit the nail on the head, ‘Child of God!’

What if I told you, you’re only partially right? I want you to understand you are so much more than that! Your identity, who you really are, your you-ness, has nothing to do with that at all. I’m serious.

Check it out:

In the Bible, we read in St Paul’s letter to the Ephesians,
‘even as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before Him. He destined us in love to be His sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of His will, to the praise of His glorious grace which He freely bestowed on us in the Beloved.’ – Ephesians 1.4-5

We are so deeply and fiercely loved, God chose us before even the first molecule was made! He chose us to be His sons in Christ! We are, now, His Body. The Church. We are products of such a deep and great love of the God of the universe, that He doesn’t look at the world and see a group of people just doing what we can to get by. He sees us individually, and loves us as if we were His only creation.

We are beloved of God, whole and entire. The Catechism even touches on this, too:

By this power of the Spirit, God’s children can bear much fruit. He Who has grafted us onto the true vine will make us bear ‘the fruit of the Spirit: . . . love, joy, peace, patience, kindnes s, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.’ ‘we live by the Spirit’; the more we renounce ourselves, the more we ‘walk by the Spirit.’Through the Holy Spirit we are restored to paradise, led back to the Kingdom of heaven, and adopted as children, given confidence to call God ‘Father’ and to share in Christ’s grace, called children of light and given a share in eternal glory.’
– CCC 736 (link to the Catechism is below:)


I don’t know about you, but to be considered a child of the Most Holy and Ever-living God is pretty amazing.

Something that tends to drive me mad is the fact when I’m engaged in a conversation with someone and a mental illness struggle comes up in discussion and the person with whom I’m speaking says, ‘I am [insert disorder here],’ I cringe. You are not your disorder! You shouldn’t say, ‘I am [disorder],’ but ‘I have [disorder].’

We are children of God. God loves us so fiercely, He died for us to prove His love was that great, to prove to us how worth it we are to Him to leave His glory in Heaven to look for us. It’s hard to wrap your head around it, isn’t it? The fact that the Creator of everything is so fiercely in love with us? So, it would make sense to take our identity from what He says of us, that we’re His children. He rescued us from some pretty ugly things, just because He loves us that much.

©2020, T. Rea Okerberg

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