Posted in after the diagnosis, coping with chronic illness, coping with life threatening illness, living with chronic illness, Living with Illness

Identity Theft

You get a diagnosis and instantly you feel like you’ve been the victim of identity theft.  You’re no longer an individual, but a constituent of the disease.  Your ever evolving personal profile is compromised as if a hacker entered your personal system and is not at the controls.  It’s disconcerting, but it happens every day and when it does how do you deal with the theft? 

Many go into hiding following their diagnosis.  It’s as if you’ve suddenly been put on the FBI’s 10 most wanted list and everywhere you go you believe all eyes are upon you.  In addition, your family and friends believe you’re not the spokesperson for the illness giving you this new level of responsibility. 

How did all of this happen?  All you did was go to the doctor, take a few tests, and receive news about the diagnosis from the doctor; how did it turn into a deconstruction and reconstruction of a life?  Unfortunately our culture is all about labels.  Everyone feels more comfortable when they can pigeon hole you so that it eases their own anxiety.  The difficult part when facing a health challenge, unlike with your credit, is that you can’t lock out a diagnosis.  You can certainly take measures to ward off the possibility of illness, but there is no definitive method for extricating illness from the human body…yet!

What is your identity?  Are you the same person you were the moment before the diagnosis as the moment after the diagnosis?  Is your faith the same?  Is your humor the same?  Is your taste in literature the same?  This is the time when affirming your identity is important because it reinforces within you and to the world that the health challenge isn’t what defines you.  It doesn’t have you, it is a part of you that you have a voice in handling.

Don’t give your diagnosis power over your life.  Fortify your life by reinforcing what you most love about your life.  Dig deeper roots in your passions, your relationships, and human connection.  Take a stand on issues that are important to you because your voice matters…it is part of your identity.  Don’t give the thief free reign over your life; your lord of the manner.  It’s time to show the identity thief who’s boss!

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