Yesterday was my dear friend Galina’s 36th birthday. While she is gone from this world she lives on in the hearts and memories of those who knew and loved her either in person or through the many articles she wrote for publications around the world.
She was a good friend, daughter, and prolific writer who devoted her life to making a difference in any small way she could. Many of her articles dealt with personal empowerment and mind/body well-being.
When I was digging through some files today I stumbled upon this following article that she wrote for a newsletter back in 2009. I think it has a powerful message that captures her compassion, insight, and wisdom. I am richer for having known her and grateful to share her words.
No more labels, just you, wonderful you.
by Galina Pembroke
Who are you? It’s not what you’ve done, do now, or plan on doing. It’s not even the combination of your skills, talents and wisdom, as Dr. Phil has said. These things are part of you, but since these change all the time they are not you. Not at all. The person you are is the same unique, unrepeatable soul you were at birth. This person is full of potential. Without labelling itself as this or that, he / she can do or be anything. Unfortunately, as we age we’re told we are certain things, and can do certain things and not others. For those with a mental illness this is especially true.
Unfortunately we often let our illness limit our self image. We’ll say “I am depressed,” or “I am schizophrenic” or “I am bipolar.” This isn’t correct. Having something doesn’t mean we ARE it. I have blue eyes, but I don’t say “I AM blue eyes.” I’m sure you would be stunned if someone with diabetes said they ARE diabetes. A mental illness is simply part of our life. We don’t have to revolve our lives around it. We limit ourselves by believing that being in the psychiatric ward or taking psychiatric medication means we’re different or “sick.” Again, this is no different than a diabetic feeling badly about themselves because of their unique condition.
All of us have limitations, and things in our past that we would have rather not experienced. Yet when you look at the total days of your life (if you’re 18 or older it’s at least 6,500), probably under 365 have been spent in the psychiatric ward. That’s a very small percent. Yet we feel it’s such a big part of our lives and us.
I urge you to be open to leaving the past and labels related to your illness behind. You are not your illness any more than a daughter or son, a friend, and perhaps a former or current pet owner. Maybe you’ve been someone’s boyfriend or girlfriend, wife or husband. And if you like to shop you’re a darn good consumer! More than this, you are a citizen of our country, a member of our community, and a divine creation.
We all have one responsibility: To love ourselves. This is easier if we don’t limit ourselves as this or that. Just “be” and you’ll find it much easier to just be happy. In the meantime do something nice for yourself. You deserve it.