Episode 40 - Am I still me?

Intro
Hello my dears! My name is Johanna, and I welcome you to the Johanna Draconis - The Deconstruction Of C-PTSD podcast.
In this episode we will talk about the question ‘Am I still me?’. I feel like many people are scared endlessly of mental illnesses, because they feel like they will loose themselves, like a superhero villain.
It is often portrait like that in the media. I would describe it more like a physical handicap - like being bound to a wheelchair. Life altering? Sure, sometimes. Changing who you are? Not really.
But since this is a question that causes a lot of fear and uncertainty I thought we should shed some light on it and hopefully put some minds at ease.

Prelude
I wanted to touch up on the last two topics with todays topic. I was first hesitant, as this topic is a gigantic one - the million of books for this topic alone show that quite clearly.
So I am pretty sure this topic will be picked up by me again, but for now it is too connected to the two topics before, that I would not do it. So… am I still me? A very good question. Not only for people with PTSD.
Many people suffering years from an illness or sudden handicap find themselves wondering it. Sometimes they remember how they used to be and sometimes because they acted the way they never thought they would.
But especially people suffering from mental illnesses sometimes fear of loosing their mind and who they are. It is frightening without end to find yourself not being able to trust yourself fully anymore.
If you don’t understand what is going on, it almost seems like a supernatural puppeteer is starting to control you. There will be questions if you can trust yourself, if you can be trusted and the like.
This causes a lot of emotions, especially negative ones. So let us talk about it - first we ask the question ‘Am I loosing myself?’ and then ‘How do I stay me?’.

Am I loosing myself?
So right into the first question: Am I loosing myself? Well yes and no. First off, let us establish that who YOU are changes every second. Who we are isn’t written in stone - it is more like we are like water.
Ever flowing and shifting. So you are basically loosing yourself as a natural state. But you are not actually loosing yourself, just the self you were a few seconds ago. So the same applies for completely healthy people.
Change is good and natural and part of life itself. But what most of you most likely mean is: Am I loosing my core values, that for me define who I am? And to that question the answer in generally no.
Of course it depends a bit on case by case. You might change your core values depending as your experience as an social outcast or as a severe sick person or the like. Might be better, might be worse.
But what I mean is, that the notion that you will be overtaken by an alternate self is far from correct. It is normal to experience behavior differences due to depression and more, but they can disappear.
That is like behavior when we are under drugs, strong medication, etc. We are still ourselves. Below all the rubble. You might even return to that form if you either get the symptoms in check or in a VERY good phase.

How do I stay me?
Which leads us to our second question: How do I stay me? How do I ensure that with all that what is happening, that I don’t loose myself? Well, we touched up on it in the last two episodes.
By trying to filling the void and keeping up with the monster. The thing is, during an extremely stressful time, like a severe illness for example, we do change a lot more than usual.
The good thing is, you can reverse that change if you don’t like it. If you notice yourself changing in a way you don’t approve of, you can direct yourself in the, for you, correct direction again.
This you achieve by immediately correcting your thoughts or behavior when it pops up. We are able to train ourselves. It takes a bit, but you can unlearn those behaviors and return to where you want.
But that also means we constantly - in quotations marks - need to check if our old habits are still accurate. This way we are also keeping an awareness of our selves. A sort of frame we can hang on to.
This is like with everything, if you are in the movement, it will appear as barely anything changes at all. But if you step out of it and step back in, suddenly everything is kind of different. Like your old school.
So to summarize: You stay you, if you want to and keep an eye on your own behavior. This isn’t a transformation like into a werewolf. It is like getting in a wheel chair, yes it requires some correction.
But in the end of the day, even if your life changes by it, you are still yourself. No matter was that voice of depression and PTSD are telling you. They are a bunch of known liars.

Private words
I really miss snow. We gotten it less and less these years. But this year? We had whole 12h of more or less snow. I always loved the seasons, for they bring a rhythm to life and measurement.
I lived in a tropical nation for almost 3 years… and I really began to appreciate the seasons beyond everything. But like many other people in Germany I noticed changes. Summers getting hotter.
Like… I remember as a child a 25° C (that is 77° F) was a HOT summer day. We went to Spain to get warm weather. Today? We reach 40°C (or 104° F) regularly on our hottest day of the year.
And for winter? I remember the little hills I would ski on. Nowadays the snow most of the time has to be created by snow cannons - which is a very cool name to be fair. I really miss snow.
I miss the sound it makes when you walk over it. I miss how it give that snow covered landscape of buildings and plants and fields and so much more. I miss it surviving in my hair and giving me a snowy look.
I know that the good times are over and times changing. That doesn’t mean I can’t miss the little things that are now mostly lost. I can be sometimes a very nostalgic person. For better or worse.

Outro
That was it for todays episode, I hope you enjoyed it. And I really do hope, that it reduced some of the worries and fears. Living in fear is a horrible thing. No one deserves that.
And of course, if you have any questions or feedback and the like, please let me know at contactme@johannadraconis.com.
More information and transcript you can find as usually under johannadraconis.com/Podcast and links are in the description.
I hope to see you next time. Watch yourselves and have a wonderful time.

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