Can a chronic illness like MS affect your identity? You betcha! You see, personal identity (our sense of self) tends not to be an unchanging concrete thing. It tends more to be a dynamic concept that fluctuates with life experience.
Our sense of self includes anything such as life/professional roles, personal attributes, behaviors, and aspects that we consider most important about ourselves. The aspects that contribute to our self identities can be things like occupation, hobbies, athletic ability, family relationships, marital status, disabilities and health…among many others.
That’s where identity comes in, because when you can’t do what you are normally accustomed to do, it can affect your sense of self. Sometimes we can feel a sense of guilt for being unable to participate at a certain level. Or we can feel isolated. It is imperative to remember, at that time, that we are not just one thing (i.e. wht we do, or how we do it, or…). We need to ensure that we don’t allow what we can’t do in one moment to impact our sense of identity in any moment. And it can be easier said than done, depending on our own personal sense of self. Have patience!
So how can we bolster our self-identity? Having the ability to be honest and gentle with yourself is key. Trust in yourself. Trust that you are good enough just as you are – illness or not. Having a strong support group (friends, family, colleagues) is an important part of maintaining your self-esteem and self-identity. Seeing yourself through the eyes of others can often help us realize that we are loved for who we are, despite any illness or inability to do something. And the best thing of all to have is a sense of humour. Laughter can be the best way to see the world, and yourself, in the best light possible.
Every new adjustment is a crisis in self-esteem. ~ Eric Hoffer