“WHO AM I?” And Why EVERYTHING Is Riding on It

I hate being depressed

Understandably, we mood and anxiety disorder warriors are full of questions. “Why am I depressed?” “Is there a cure for anxiety?” “Am I mentally ill?” I mean, there are jillions of ’em. But one reigns supreme, and I’m not so sure it gets asked enough, if at all. And everything is riding on it…

I’m in my early-60s and can tell you this ‘Who Am I?’ business has baffled me seemingly forever. And it’s cost me plenty. So many roles played and so many people pleased…

Posted a piece featuring Eric Clapton last week. And I believe anyone struggling with a mood, anxiety, or substance disorder will find his story riveting and hopeful.

But here’s a tidbit I left out…

In his early 50s, clean and sober for 10 years, Eric decided to commence therapy in an effort to somehow “control” a woman with whom a relationship just wasn’t going to happen. Well, little did he know he’d immediately find himself headed in a totally different direction.

So there he sat in front of his therapist for the very first time. And knowing full-well who she was working with, the first words out of her mouth were, “Tell me who you are.” Eric said he felt the blood rush up to his face and he wanted to scream, “How dare you! Don’t you know who I am?”

Later, Eric acknowledged he had absolutely no idea who he was, and was ashamed to admit it. He went on to observe, “I wanted to appear that I was ten years sober and fully mature, when in fact I was only ten years old, emotionally speaking, and starting from scratch.”

As full as his life was, and as huge as it was to rid himself of substances 10 years prior, I’m thinking Eric would agree that his life truly began during that first therapy session.

What About You?

How can I stop being depressedI wonder if you’ve ever asked yourself or others, “Who Am I?” Who knows, maybe it’s been asked of you.

But now that the subject has been introduced, do you understand the power and life-importance of the question, and, of course, the answer?

To the extreme, let me fire a scenario by you…

A young woman was raised by a mother and father, both of whom were scientists and had an “IQ” of 160 (the estimate for Einstein, actually). When she was an infant, her parents declared that she would be equally as intelligent and exceed their academic and scientific accomplishments. I mean, there was never any doubt, this was the expectation – the reality.

So with an assigned “Who am I?” as a budding genius and science prodigy, off to life she went. All the while, her parents pounded-home their declaration day and night.

Now for a couple of facts. Not only did our friend hate science, her IQ was an above average 120.


Given the expectation/reality quotient driving her personal identity, do you think there’s a pretty good chance she’d end up struggling with more than her fair share of inner conflict and its manifestations?

I’d bet the farm.

What About Me?

I’m in my early-60s and can tell you this “Who Am I?” business has baffled me seemingly forever. And it’s cost me plenty. So many roles played and so many people pleased. So much cognitive dissonance, bouts with regression, cognitive distortion, anxiety, and other “unnecessities.”

Well, here, take a look at a poem I wrote some 30 years ago…

Who is This Person

Who is this person so hard to face
When in the world did I start on his case

His look so deceiving
A harmony smile
But deep down inside he cries all the while

A master of costume
A genius of wit
A challenging puzzle
The classic misfit

He’s always a member but never belongs
Forgetting the goodness but never the wrongs

So gentle of feeling and tender of touch
He longs for the meaning of loving so much

His soul coldly frightened is forced to be brave
From every last angry emotion he saved

Who is this person so hard to face
Why in the world did I start on his case

Hard he is trying to find me again
To start it all over from where he began

Can you at all relate? And if you can, and you’re (still) struggling with emotional and mental distress, can you connect some dots and move toward recovery in a fresh and more efficient manner?

On to Part Two

When I decided to run a piece on “Who am I?” I knew it was going to have to be at least a two-parter. There’s just too much to say about a phenomenon that can generate all sorts of misery and, ultimately, all sorts of calm.

Think about it. Wouldn’t it make the most sense to immediately ask – and answer – the “reigning supreme” question? I mean, once we get that handled, we may be surprised how quickly the other inquires fade away.

Let’s look forward to next time…

Here’s the Clapton piece: Eric Clapton: You Really NEED to Know His Story

You may know by now, there are hundreds of mood and anxiety disorder articles available here on Chipur. What better time than now to review some titles?

  • Vertigo January 20, 2018, 9:06 am

    That poem. I don’t think I’ve ever read anything quite as simple and accurate that describes what I go through constantly. Thank you for putting it into the playful words that I just couldn’t seem to think up. I’ll be sure to attribute this to you when referencing it or reciting it to others.

    • Chipur January 20, 2018, 10:20 am

      Wow, Vertigo, I appreciate the kind words – and visit. Glad you could relate to the feeling – the poem. Please come back…


  • Melissa Gray January 23, 2018, 9:31 am

    I am 66 years old, retired from a job that I never wanted but enjoyed at times,have a husband and two adult sons…and I still don’t know what/who I want to be when I “grow up”. Am creative in the artsy craftsy sense but very stuck and blocked on many levels. Life is going by and I actually do very little. Where and who am I? Wish I could find me.

    • Chipur January 23, 2018, 2:36 pm

      Hi, Melissa…

      Thank you for your visit and participation. Really appreciate the candor. As someone in your “age-group,” I find it amazing that we can live all these years and still be asking ourselves, “Where and who am I?” And you read in the article that I’ve often been right there with you.

      Yep, life sure is “going by,” and that’s why I’m doing all I can to focus upon who I am. I mean, finding the answers has to make a huge difference in life’s meaning – not to mention helping us out with mood and anxiety woes.

      Maybe you’ve already read it, but this piece may help: https://chipur.com/what-is-the-meaning-of-life-i-am-living-with-depression-and-anxiety/

      Again, thanks for stopping-by, Melissa…

      P.S. I’m going to use your comment in the follow-up piece, which I’ll post by tonight. Ty

      • Melissa Gray January 23, 2018, 3:47 pm

        Good article- thank you. I read Frankl’s book many years ago, perhaps it is time for a reread. It is reassuring to know I am not alone and that my thoughts are rational.

      • Chipur January 23, 2018, 6:04 pm

        You are both not alone and rational of thought. Don’t ever doubt it, Melissa. Just about to post the follow-up piece. Couldn’t resist including some of the Frankl goods…