You're always fine

Case of lost identity

March 12, 2024 Even Health Season 2 Episode 7
You're always fine
Case of lost identity
Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

When the roles we've cherished fall away, who do we become? Our latest episode welcomes a conversation that sheds light on the struggles of redefining oneself amidst pivotal life shifts. We get intimate about the grief and the unexpected joy in rediscovering passions that were once overshadowed by our previous identities.

This heartfelt discussion also uncovers the intricate ties between our sense of self and overall well-being. We all face those moments when simple questions like "What are your hobbies?" confront us with the voids left by our lost identities. But it's here, in the thick of these challenges, that we chart a course for mental health and personal value. Learn how to cultivate self-awareness and core values as anchors in this sea of change, and gain practical tools for crafting your life's visual compass. Join us and be part of a community on a quest to find peace and fulfillment beyond life's defining roles.

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Self-love & self-care: it's not about ego

Date: 3/21/24   Time: 2pm EST

Description: As those that work in healthcare, we are great at caring for others but often do not prioritize ourselves. We will explore the importance of self-love and self-care for our mental, emotional, and physical health.

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This week’s source notes:

Symptoms of lose of identity

https://www.healthline.com/health/mental-health/identity-crisis#outlook

When lose of identity becomes an identity crisis

https://www.betterup.com/blog/identity-crisis

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Speaker 1:

Welcome back to You're Always Fine a space to show up for yourself and embrace the mess that lives underneath. Because, let's be real, it's exhausting always being fine. So grab your headphones and allow yourself to listen, laugh and even cry, because you are not alone. And we aren't always fine, and that's okay.

Speaker 2:

Did you know that a significant life event, such as a career change or a relationship with you, can trigger feelings of lost identity? Well, today we're exploring the reasons behind this phenomenon and how to reclaim our sense of self. Welcome to, you're Always Fine, I'm your host, christine.

Speaker 3:

And I'm Teresa, so let's freaking get into it.

Speaker 2:

Alright, so went over to the APA and got this definition for us to kind of ground us. So a loss of identity can happen at any time and it is not related to like age or gender. An expert say that it can be triggered when a person enters kind of like a new era of life that makes them question their basic understanding of self.

Speaker 3:

Yeah, I feel like this one's hard for me, because if you asked me how many times I feel like I lost my identity, I've lost count. To be completely honest, every time I feel like something would happen in my life where I would have to gain a new sense of self, something else would happen, and I have to reinvent myself over and over again.

Speaker 2:

So this one's tough for me and it's interesting. I don't know if we always identify it or label it as like a loss of self or identity crisis, because sometimes I think it happens like slowly.

Speaker 3:

Yeah, for me, I would say, my first loss of identity, or like loss of self, was when I got hurt at work and then I could no longer do my career, which I felt like I worked so hard for. I put hours and hours of studying. I did that job for six years as a cardiovascular specialist and I loved it. So when you spend all that time in something that you really, really love and then it's taken from you and it's such a big thing that's taken from you you're like holy shit, like who am I and what am I supposed to do now?

Speaker 2:

Exactly, and I think some of the symptoms or some of the like, the signs that you're definitely kind of in this space, is like questioning who you are, a lot of like personal conflict. I know, when I entered like the rare disease space I really struggled with like who I was and who I was becoming and like that conflict. I didn't align all the time and that was like very jarring.

Speaker 3:

Yeah, for me, my career, right. I know that I could no longer do it, but I wasn't ready to close that door and it was like it was already closed for me. But I still had my certification, right. So I still had my certification and I think I asked you about it. I was like, dude, what should I do? Like my certification's coming up, should I research myself Just because I was like I don't want to lose my certification. But I knew in my head, like what are you gonna do with it? You're gonna spend this time and money and re-serving yourself, and it's for what? So that was really like when you really close the door, it's accepting that like okay, I'm no longer that person or that no longer identifies me and now I need to move forward.

Speaker 2:

I remember that conversation and I had said to you at the time well, don't get rid of it yet If you still need your grieving process or you still need it in your like to move forward. Because I think that's what it is it is a grieving process. It is a non-linear process. Really, I've watched you kind of go through like moments of being okay and then times where like it could be really low.

Speaker 3:

Yeah, yeah, and those times would hit me like a ton of bricks and it would always be like my best friend still works where I used to work and so we used to work together and I always thought I was fine. But then when I would hang out with her when you hang out with people, you always want to ask them about themselves also, so I'd be like how's work or how's life or whatever, and I'd hear her talk about it and it would just hit me like a ton of bricks when I was just like, oh my God, I can't believe I'm no longer doing this. So it is really hard and loss of identity happens along the way to everyone in all different shapes of form. Like you said, you were a totally, completely different person before. You had your struggles with rare disease and stuff like that. Like I know that that was difficult and still is difficult for you.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, it's definitely not linear. It comes in different forms and, to your point, I think, when you don't have a choice in the matter, it's its own set of struggles, like getting sick, having a surgery that means that you can't do a job anymore. But then there's things like when you get married, divorce, or when you have children, like there's a huge loss of identity when you have kids. I've watched you, I've watched my sister really try to figure out who they are now that they have this thing that they love so much. But it kind of takes over. Who are they without them? It's like the empty nest syndrome. I don't even know what you're gonna do when your kids are not in the house, oh my God.

Speaker 3:

So my parents are experiencing that right now. For those of you that are listening that don't know, I'm one of 11, I've got six sisters and four brothers, so empty nest syndrome is hitting them hard. Like my youngest sister is gone Now my parents keep themselves busy, but like that is a culture shock. My mom, her whole life, had kids in the house and I was thinking, like dude, she must be going crazy and I thought about that and that is really what made me get more into social media, get more into things I could physically do and control and things that I could have outside of my kids. Because it's true, michael's nine in nine years. Like he's going to be gone, I'm keep my shit together, but like I'm not going to have him here oh, and I'll be shortly after that you need to find things that you enjoy doing that don't center around your children, and that's hard, but it's necessary.

Speaker 2:

Well, yeah, because identity is we don't realize. Our identity becomes more than just this internal thing, right, and it affects our social connections, who you hang out with, like your overall well-being. It also tethers you to your people and I think that's what like compounds to right. You're talking about your best friend who still works in the cat lab and you know she comes home with stories that you no longer like share. That's a hard thing.

Speaker 3:

Yeah, it's hard and I but I think, if you recognize it, I've been able to just let myself sit with those feelings because I'm never going to hang out with her and not ask her about such a huge part of her life, because it just digs a little deep at me. I'm not going to do that because I know it's a big part of who she is and she should be able to talk about it. But it took me teaching myself to sit with those feelings and just try and remind myself that there's like a bigger picture and there's a reason why my life is happening the way it is and there's a reason why I don't have all the answers and I'm just trying to kind of weave that into every single time I deal with reinventing myself. I'm just trying to remember there's a reason. And if you think about it that way and sit with your feelings, I think it's easier to deal with.

Speaker 2:

A hundred percent, I think, to identity, and the loss of identity usually comes to because we haven't done a ton of work around who we are as people outside of, like what we do, what we produce, where we work we cling on to, I think, the easy examples of, or the easy attributes of identity, things that are very outward instead of things that are more inward, like your values. Your values are a huge part of your identity. Have you done much work on your values? Do you really know your core four values? Because if you do, you can use that as a compass. That doesn't mean you're not going to have the feelings or that grief we're talking about, but if you sit down and really calibrate your compass to internally what's right for you, feels good for you, then every era that you come in is going to be the same person, just moving through different chapters.

Speaker 3:

That's so true, that's so good, and I think it's hard to remember that when you're losing things. I remember I couldn't no longer do basketball. I was having babies and then I had a surgery in between there and then I couldn't lift the kids and it was just like, oh my God, everything's crumbling around me. But, like you said, if I can go back to my core values and what's important to me, then whatever the change is happening that I can't control, I'll be able to move forward. So I think that's no-transcript Perfect and I think, especially in your case, with everything that you're dealing with, I think that's essential.

Speaker 2:

And it's actually one of the reasons I had such a hard time transitioning from. I mean, you know this. I would say all the time I'm at the door of acceptance but I can't walk through it. It's not like I don't want to accept it, but it was my therapist kind of called me out and was just like, well, that's because you never really knew who that other person was. So now you have this stance and you know who you are and you're trying to combine these two things, but you didn't ever really know who that person was and that was like my job moment For me. I was like you're right, like I've always calibrated to the room around me or, you know, to my job, like you know the definition of success and all those like fake metrics were kind of being taken away from me, as I couldn't do things the way I used to and I had to figure out who am I and who do I want to be?

Speaker 2:

And that, but that's been. That journey of like figuring out me has been incredibly healing and also given me such a foundation, which is why I always say that my disease has given me more than it's taken, which is kind of crazy, because this disease has taken a lot.

Speaker 3:

Yeah, yeah. What do you think has been the biggest thing that you have learned in terms of being who you were before you got sick and who you are now Like? What is your biggest takeaway from that?

Speaker 2:

That truly everything that I need is inside me, like I have an. You have an immense amount of power and control over your life If you kind of do the work internally to understand your internal landscape. Why, when you have big emotions, are those big emotions like? Do the work to figure it out so that when they come you can just feel them, label them, process them and move forward, as opposed to just allowing the subconscious to kind of drive everything. And that's been the biggest shift for me has been that you know I don't need a job or this or that or a relationship to make me whole, like I can give all that stuff to myself and it makes every problem seem small, smaller and figure outable.

Speaker 3:

You know, like yeah, Like you're able to work with it whatever gets thrown your way.

Speaker 2:

I might not be happy. I might, you know, be a little salty, you know a little come on JC moment, of course. It feels like it just keeps throwing stuff at you, but again, those are those big emotions you have around it, as opposed to staying in that big emotion and then letting that dictate the next like decision pass.

Speaker 3:

Yeah, I think that's huge. That was a big thing for me. Even back to when I had Owen and Owen's diagnosis. I remember feeling such big emotions and not really knowing how to handle them, and some people within the BWS community that were further along in their journey with it were really sympathetic to me at all, I mean, you know, and they basically were like oh, like it's no big deal, because they were on the other end of things.

Speaker 3:

No one really said or told me that it was okay to sit with my feelings and it was okay to feel. What I felt and so that was my biggest takeaway from being in that space in the beginning was I was like I am never going to not allow new BWS families when they ask for my advice. I'm never going to tell them that their feelings aren't valid or not real or don't seem as big as they are, and so that's what I took away from it. Like let yourself feel the big feelings but then move forward and you know, if you deal with big feelings again, deal with them. But I think that's true. Like instead of just brushing over them, then you're going to be dealing with them way down the road.

Speaker 2:

And I think one of the things I see a lot in my clients, my family, my friends, is this need to feel like, well, somebody has it worse or and I think that's so dangerous like yes, like if you're going through this shift in identity because you lost a job or you know you've got a diagnosis in your own health or someone you love my wife went from being a Partner to a caretaker you know, like that's like shift, so whether you can control it or not, just because somebody was dealt different cards than you were, doesn't mean that Invalidates your experience.

Speaker 2:

like yeah they're not into like pendant, and when you do that, what you do is you're just telling yourself Get over it, or like tough enough, kind of, and you're not doing yourself any favors as it relates to your emotions because, again, emotions are just signals from your brain that, like something is not at baseline and so allow those to happen.

Speaker 3:

Well, yeah, and I never understood that mentality. I don't know. Do you want to win the award for who has it worse? Of course someone could have it worse, like you could do that with anything, absolutely anything. But do you actually want someone else to have it worse? No, it, that was the one. It was so toxic and some people don't mean it when they say stuff like that, but when you actually think about it, it's like don't say that to someone.

Speaker 2:

Yes, exactly like it could always be worse, is just an invalidating statement, and so don't do it to yourself and be a fine foe when you're like putting that in the world, because, again, I think we do that at times because we don't know what to say. Yes we want to be optimistic and the reality of this is that it's a loss. It's an unconventional loss, 100%. How did you know, I guess, that you were losing a part of your identity? Because I don't think for me, I had really any idea what it was happening.

Speaker 3:

I knew when my husband, mike, started Talking to me about it and asking me what my hobbies were. I yes.

Speaker 3:

I hate that question so much and he was like well, what are your hobbies? And I was like basketball. He's like no, basketball isn't your hobby, because that's your identity, that's who you're identifying with. He's like I'm saying a hobby like reading a book or read like so when he started to break this down for me, that's when I really knew, like that's why I feel such a great sense of loss, because these aren't hobbies for me. I built my life around these things. My job wasn't a nine-to-five job. I was there 40 to 60 hours a week helping people, saving their lives, like it was like not a lifestyle, but it was like something.

Speaker 2:

Oh, it's a lifestyle. I mean, yeah, it's like. It is definitely a lifestyle like I think you know, like I poured my heart and soul into it.

Speaker 3:

And then, with basketball, I played basketball ever since I was a little kid and continued even after college. So that's when I realized like, wow, this is why I feel so horrible, because I don't have anything else. Like I had nothing to list off. When Mike was like what hobbies do you have? And aside from work and basketball, I had nothing. I'm like, oh my God.

Speaker 2:

Well, think about it. I mean, it makes sense, right? You derived your worst from those things and I think that's another part of identity.

Speaker 2:

It's a lot of times where we get our worst from, which is why it's so important, in my opinion, to shift that internally so that you're insourcing that worst so that, no matter what changes right, because life is going to change you don't depend on it for your self-worth. It's not based on what you produce Like. It's not like you're out there playing basketball just because you were doing hoops right now. You played in college. There was a benefit of you playing. It became part of work and responsibilities and those aren't hobbies. So kudos to Mike.

Speaker 3:

He's such a shit and he still brings that up, Like I haven't seen you reading a book. I haven't read a book lately. I'm like listen, all right, leave me be, I'll open a book in a little bit.

Speaker 2:

No, it's hard. I mean you always laugh at me because most of the time you're like what are you doing? It's like I take something that I could be a hobby and then I just always pull it over the line to make it into like, but this also could be a business. Yeah yeah. And, like you know, that's something I'm constantly trying to like monitor, like not making everything. I do have this like purpose or outcome driven.

Speaker 3:

That's what it is, the fine things that don't necessarily have to have a purpose or an end point type of thing, and that sounds bad when you say it that way, but I think for me coloring I like being creative, you know, but coloring is something I could just do and half finish and not feel bad about it, and I'm not someone that usually does that, so that would be a hobby for me, like I can enjoy coloring and close the book you know, and also right, nobody benefits from you coloring except for like you in the moment, right, like nobody get, there's no, there's no cell network, there's no, you know doing it Right.

Speaker 2:

And so exactly, and I think for me, I always, am like constantly being like skincare. It sounds silly as a hobby but like that is like one of my most purest things, because I don't even sure if it benefits me, but it's five minutes and I like not. I can for sure say it is not outcome driven or like doesn't have a purpose.

Speaker 2:

So the last kind of thing I want to talk about is when it gets more serious, like the loss of identity, and it kind of like steps into becoming crippling and going down a more dangerous path. So identity is one of the leading factors to a depressive episode.

Speaker 3:

I'm not sure if you knew that.

Speaker 2:

I just found that.

Speaker 2:

I was researching for this episode, I found that and I was like, wow, I mean, it makes sense, because when you lose a sense of like who you are, it can 100% lead to, you know, an acute depressive episode. And if you're not paying attention to your body and the stressors that are in your life at the time such as, you know, getting married, getting divorced, moving, you know new health issues, etc. You'll end up kind of in a situation where you're you're battling Some form of depression, whether that be acute or chronic, depending on the time frame. And that's when you know Prevention helps, I guess, is.

Speaker 2:

My point is that, like, calling it out, asking yourself the questions like what qualities are defining you? What characteristics are important to you to seek out other? What grounds you again Like I can't emphasize values enough and you're doing the hard work of like, what are my core for values? And defining the word, because we put more motions on words a lot, and so sometimes we're talking about like Loyalty, but what we really do it like through the behaviors. We're actually saying consistency, right, like you show up all the time you, you're this, and it's like, yeah, it could be loyalty, but the behaviors you're listing that come with that value, how you live that value every day.

Speaker 2:

It's like more aligned with consistency. So do that hard work of figuring out like how you show these values and how you assess for them to be in your life, because those can serve as a great compass for.

Speaker 3:

Identity yeah, a hundred percent.

Speaker 2:

I couldn't agree more before we go, I'm going to leave you with this Tool to take with you, and that is don't just think about your values, guys. It is important to do outward expression. So, whether that be talk to another friend, grab your journal, write out not only the value, but you want to write out the definition as you defined it. And then you want to do behaviors. The behaviors are so important. Values aren't meant to be strived for, they're meant to be lived.

Speaker 2:

So, to figure out your values, you want to go ahead and list out all the ways that you live this value, all the ways that People who are closest to you show you that this value you know is important to them through their behaviors, and then Work your way to make sure that every value on that list you have this for. And then choose your, your top four, and Kind of create a visual compass for yourself so that when times get tough, cuz it a hundred percent will. You have that as a way to help you navigate and you have that mental picture of like, if I remember nothing else, what is my North Star value? Love it incredibly valuable. Ha, I didn't mean to do that. We will catch you next week on another episode of your always fine until then, mind your health. Seriously, you're fine.

Speaker 4:

You're fine because you have the power to access your place of peace anytime you need it. However, if you get stuck or right at the palm of your hand to help Check out our show notes for this week's source list, recommended content and cabana live group schedule, we'll catch you next week for a brand new episode of you're always fine.

Loss of Identity and Self-Reinvention
Loss of Identity and Self-Worth
Navigating Values for Mental Well-Being