Posted by April Boyer, July 2017. This week’s post highlights points of view from several
writers and bloggers who have been through some kind of “Identity Crisis” due to illness.
FEELINGS OF LOST IDENTITY
Through their journeys, they had feelings of lost identity. This follows the post: “Identity: A Look Into The Heart” http://restginhisshadow.com/identity-look-heart . Some may have journyed a short while, others will walk a long mile with disabling health issues. All have something to share about
knowing Whose Child They Are, and knowing how much their Father values the person they are.
Our panelists are:
Heather Hart Best seller and award winning author including “Teen Devotionals for Girls” and blogger: http://BooksFaithandCoffee.com http://candidlychristian.com/
Wendy Munsell Wendy writes to encourage others at her blog, Hannah Bowers is the founder of the Young Wives Club and blogger:http://young-wives.com
Virginia Maze blogs at Life Through My Ears and Eyes http://thisgeorgiapeach.wordpress.com
Lynn Mosher blogger: Encouraging Hearts, Uplifting Souls http://lynnmosher.com
QUESTIONS FOR THE PANELISTS
- How did your illness affect your self-image?
For so long, I felt like my illness defined me. Because the pain was so chronic and the symptoms heavily burdened my life, I struggled to believe that I could be anything more than that. At the time in my life when my disorder manifested in an unavoidable way, I was going through a severe emotional and spiritual battle. Moving forward, I think my subconscious was unable to separate the two events. I so often looked in the mirror and only saw that beat down, broken girl. ~Hannah
I lost my right-eye to cancer when I was 2 years old, so I’ve basically lived my whole life with a prosthetic. While it was made by a very talented professional, it’s still obvious that it’s not the same as my other eye. I have known since I was small that I would never be beautiful. I spent countless nights crying myself to sleep over that reality. ~Heather
My illness, breast cancer, required a bilateral mastectomy. As a formerly small- breasted, slim woman, I have found the change in silhouette relatively easy. ~Wendy
This may come as a shock to many of you, but I love being Deaf. In fact, I have embraced it as a beautiful gift from God. I do not consider myself to be special needs or disabled. I am perfectly content with being able to turn off my hearing aids to enjoy some quiet time (or shut out annoying sounds, like the vacuum cleaner). Now, my blindness, however, is a little different. I’m still learning to embrace this part of me because blindness is still new to me as I was born with normal vision and didn’t become legally blind until the last few years. >
When I had to give up driving this is when my self-image took a hit. I went from being able to drive myself to and from places to having to rely on others for rides. I struggled with feeling like a burden on others. I’ve come a long way and don’t have those feelings too often. Nonetheless, I know that I am fearfully and wonderfully made (Psalm 139:14). And I know that God specially made me to show His glory (John 9:1-3). ~Virginia
After 17 years of the effects of fibromyalgia, I’ve lost a lot of the positive side of my self-image. My body has changed tremendously due to the ravages of the illness. However, I daily think positive thoughts to insure I do not fall into a negative pit. ~Lynn
FEELINGS OF LOST IDENTITY
- Did your illness affect how you relate to others?
Yes. In some ways it has made me more willing to be honest about my fears and shortcomings. ~Wendy
Having cancer and losing my eye completely changed the way I looked at others. I believe I have more compassion because of it. I am more willing to accept people who are “different” because I’m different. ~Heather
Because I so often felt defined and limited by my disorder, I struggled to feel as though I could relate to other people. My sheltered upbringing made it difficult to relate to begin with. Adding in my health challenges, I felt so far removed from “normal” people. I didn’t know what to say, how to keep a conversation flowing or even be personable. The only thing I knew was how to crawl into my own shell and make the situation awkward. I was really good at that. ~Hannah
I think my deafblindness affects how strangers relate to me. Having enough central vision I do not “look” blind or and having enough hearing to not appear to be deaf, but I do miss things. I’ve been told by some people that when they first met me they thought I was snobby because I wouldn’t say, “Hi,” back or acknowledge them. Unfortunately, because of my hearing and vision loss, I do not always catch people greeting me or trying to shake my hand. Try not to be quick to assume that someone is ignoring you. They could be deaf and/or blind. ~Virginia
Yes and no. Or should that be no and yes? I don’t relate to others any differently than before. However, my attitude to others has been expanded to embrace what others may be feeling or going through, even though no symptoms of any illness or other problems physically appear on the outside of others. ~Lynn
Don’t miss Part Two “Service is Not Lost” and Part Three “Lost and Found” coming July 13th and 20th !
LOST EMOTIONAL CONTROL
- Did your illness affect you emotionally?
For a long time, we didn’t know exactly what was wrong with me. All I knew was that my body hurt and it wouldn’t go away. So, I didn’t talk about it. Instead, I shut down and, with a pre-existing struggle to connect with others, things only got worse. I always feared that if people knew that something was wrong with me, they’d treat me differently or look down on me. Anytime anyone found out about my strict dietary restrictions, they would pity me. I hated being pitied. Secretly, I longed for people to know and support me, but I was terrified that instead of support I would be met with distance and rejection – something I had experienced with friendships growing up.~Hannah
While I can’t say if my cancer affected me emotionally when I was small, I know it has affected me greatly as I grew. While I have been cancer free for roughly thirty years, the effects it had on me will linger forever. I am changed, whether I remember life before cancer or not. I have days when I fully trust in Jesus and praise Him for all He’s brought me through, and I have days where I fall at His feet and just need to be loved by Him. ~Heather
Yes. Fear, anxiety, grief, and shame all became factors. Why? At the time I became ill I was living in Texas, far from our adult children and 18 grandchildren in Maine. As I went through treatment I began experiencing deep, ongoing grief at the separation from my loved ones. Fear came and went as I processed, first my diagnosis and prognosis. When it swept in I was pretty much able to 1) recognize it and 2) go to God and receive His peace. However, anxiety snuck up on me. My symptoms, stuttering and difficulty in swallowing, are not that common and landed me in the hospital for three days of testing. When everything else was ruled out, anxiety was diagnosed. My first reaction was deep shame. I felt that I had failed to trust God enough and that I had let Him down. ~Wendy
For sure. Five years ago, I hung up my car keys for the last time. It was a hard decision, but I knew it was for the best because my sight was getting worse. I knew I wouldn’t be able to live with myself if something terrible happened to someone else because of my driving. But even though I had peace about giving up driving, I still went through the grieving process. I grieved over the loss of my independence through driving. Now I had to depend on others for transportation, which was hard. I felt like a burden, but I know that feeling is not from God and I have to constantly remind myself of that. And though it is now normal to me to be a non-driver, it is still hard at times. And it’s even harder to think about the possibility of losing more sight. ~Virginia
Yes. Definitely. While one of my symptoms is depression, I battle it daily. After years of suffering bad days and enduring even worse days, I prompt myself to be positive and to praise the Lord…for everything! ~Lynn
See more about how the panelest found fulfillment in Christ in “Service and Opportunities” to be available July 13th.
Author’s Forum Part Two: “Service is Not Lost” July 13th. Author’s Forum Part Three: “Lost and Found” July 20th.
Author’s Forum Part Three: “Lost and Found” July 20th
Thank you so very much ladies! Your stories are powerful, amazing and heart-felt!
Heather Hart knows that the one thing every girl needs is a little honesty, so she’s not afraid to get candid and share her struggles. She is an internationally best-selling and award-winning author who has an unquenchable passion for Jesus. You can find out more about Heather by visiting her at http://BooksFaithandCoffee.com .
Wendy Munsell has been married to her high-school sweetheart, Patrick, for 39 amazing years. They have seven children and 19 grand-children! God has taken this formerly uptight, wounded, people-pleaser and set her free through the love and mercy of His son, Jesus Christ. As a result, she blogs enouragement atwhere she has been writing since June of 2015. Wendy was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2016. She can also be reached on , , and .
Virginia Maze is a follower of Christ, a wife, a teacher, and a blogger. She is also deafblind, but not in the way that you may be thinking. She has moderate hearing loss and is slowly losing her sight due to Retinitis Pigmentosa (combined hearing loss and RP is called Usher Syndrome). Recently, she was diagnosed as legally blind with no peripheral vision but still has strong central vision.Virginia was born and raised in Georgia, but currently resides in Central Florida with her husband and very energetic dog, Rosie. When she is not teaching, she enjoys spending time with her family, practicing her modern calligraphy, watching movies, reading, and blogging. She blogs at http://thisgeorgiapeach.wordpress.com
Hannah Bowers is the founder of the Young Wives Club, a community for young wives and fiancés, late teens and twenties. She has a mast cell disorder, PCOS, and IBS and currently lives in Ohio with her husband and son. http://young-wives.com
Lynn Mosher At a time of physical upheaval in 2000, the Lord whispered His desire for Lynn take up her pen and write for Him. God sheltered His gift in her and cultivated it, turning her life towards her one, true ministry calling in her later years.
Written and Compiled by April Boyer @ 2017 All Rights Reserved
Author’s Forum Part Two: “Service is Not Lost” July 13th. Author’s Forum Part Three: “Lost and Found” July 20th
For other related posts and stories, see: Definition of a Person http://www.restginhisshadow.com/2017/06/definition-person/ , Finding Myself http://www.restginhisshadow.com/2017/06/find-my-self/
and others that highlight the value of your person, yourself and your position as a daughter of the King.