Illness and Identity and Career

This is going to be a carnival of three related blog entries on the topic of illness and identity and career.

In conversation with a peer friend I asked him to clarify something I had been thinking about on the topic of illness and identity and career.

The friend understood: There are different pieces of ourselves. We’re not just one thing. We can talk and write about life outside of mental health.

For months now I’ve been interested in the Venn diagram intersection between illness and identity and career.

About how people choose to identify themselves to others. Some of us right off will tell people: “I’m disabled.” Some of us will say: “I have a disability.”

In my life I prefer to be identified by my name or by my personality traits or by what I’m passionate about.

This extends to labels outside of illness that people commonly use to identify themselves. Why should we have to label ourselves at all?

Years ago a workshop leader told everyone in her course: “If you name it, you can claim it.” I understand that this is the underlying dynamic in using a “hook” to describe yourself.

In work emails I would rather write after my name: Christina Bruni (Author/Advocate).

What I would ideally like to use is: Christina Bruni (Chris/Christina) to identify myself apart from a preferred personal pronoun.

It’s a matter of a person’s individual preference whether they want to talk about their illness in ordinary conversation. Or whether they choose not to disclose as a matter of course.

The choice is yours whether you disclose, how you disclose, who you tell, and when.

In the next blog entry I’ll talk about advertising yourself as a whole person instead of dwelling on symptoms and illness.

Author: Chris Bruni

Christina Bruni is the author of the critically acclaimed memoir Left of the Dial. She contributed a chapter "Recovery is Within Reach" to Benessere Psicologico: Contemporary Thought on Italian American Mental Health. As well as an author and activist, Bruni is an artist and athlete.

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