Monday, January 08, 2007

TO WRITE: Picturing yourself
We carry visions of everyone we know; we can't help but recall the sparkling eyes of a lover, the tall frame and warm embrace of a friend, the boss's scowl even when you are on time for that big meeting. We hold pictures of their non-physical characteristics as well. Jill is such a talented mathematician, Matthew is arrogant, Lauren has a heart of gold.

So how do you envision yourself? This is a much trickier question. How do you really perceive your own size, shape, color? Your talents, skills and weaknesses? Your faith, maturity and sense of justice? The list goes on and on, of course, and for those of us living with depression or another mental illness, our self-image can be even more complex, and sometimes harder to access too. The illness's effects change who we are, and the illness can alter the way we view everything, including ourselves.

Play with this...
Imagine you are creating a character for a novel you're writing, and that character is based on you. How will you describe her/him for brand new readers? Write continuously for 20 minutes and describe this person - yourself - as objectively as possible. Consider as many aspects of yourself as possible, including the role depression plays in your self-image.

When you reread your piece later, look at whether there are things you'd like to adjust, whether by modifying something about yourself, or by simply deciding to look at something in a new light. The opinion of a trusted friend or therapist might be valuable if you're interested in making changes in your self-image.

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