Thoughts about identity

At college today, we were set a photography project exploring personal identity and what that means. I found this really, really hard because I’m finding it difficult at the moment to feel ‘real’ and that I actually exist outside of mental illness, and that I actually have an identity at all. Which got me thinking a lot about what identity actually is in the first place and what it means. We had to get into pairs to discuss and make a mind map about identity, and it was really interesting to hear other people’s views- about personality, hobbies, interests, memorabilia, clothes and lots of other things. I’m still not totally sure what it actually ‘is’ though.

It got me thinking a lot about this year in particular and how my own concept of ‘identity’ has changed especially over lockdown. Before, my identity used to be work and the children I worked with, and that felt like my main focus and purpose in life. But then lockdown happened, school closed and suddenly all I was left with was ‘me’ outside of work which I found really difficult to deal with. And then things got more complicated, I handed my notice in and now I feel like I don’t really exist at all. I’m still ‘doing’ things- I’m back at college, I volunteer at a homeless shelter and have just started volunteering back at school again, I work in a supermarket and occasionally at a pub but I still don’t feel like any of that is ‘me’ and I really miss having the kids I mentored to focus on and have as my ‘purpose’.

Lockdown was horrendous- I really didn’t cope with being on my own in the house all the time and felt rubbish nearly all the time. I couldn’t focus on anything and had no energy, I stopped running, I hardly wrote at all and spent a lot of the time crying or sleeping, and it’s been hard to get out of that pattern. I still don’t feel ‘real’ or like I actually exist as a person and it’s horrible. I think mental illness really does take away a massive part of your identity and sucks it into itself, and I don’t know how to get out of that when you can’t seem to fully engage with anything else. Which makes this project doubly hard!

I wrote a Facebook status a while ago asking friends what they associated with me because of how I was feeling and I’m planning to work the answers into an art piece to try to make a visual representation of who I actually am so that I can look at it when I feel particularly bad and try to feel more like an actual person, and I might try to use some of those answers in the photography project. Sorry this post isn’t massively long or interesting- I’m still finding it hard to focus on or engage with anything! But will try to keep the blog more updated and maybe post some work from college at some point…

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s