What Do You Need to Feel Like Yourself?

A photo of a woman holding a magnifying glass in front of her face, so her eyes and nose are magnified larger than the rest of her. The overall vibe is fun and playful.
Photo by Marten Newhall.

A friend of mine asked this question recently:

What do you need in your life to feel like yourself?

I didn't have a good answer at the moment and so the question has stuck with me.

There has been a time in life when I very noticeably flipped from not feeling like myself to feeling like myself and it was when I went on antidepressants.

I generally described the shift as feeling like I had energy again - like I was no longer carrying a heavy, floppy weight that sapped all my strength and attention and feelings. I was actually able to not only do things, but to enjoy them.

So is that it? Is feeling like yourself just having the energy to do things? Perhaps things that you enjoy or that you have pinned your identity to?

Because the next step in this analysis is to get lost in a maze of questions of identity and what even is that in the first place and what makes me me and do any of us really know ourselves and wait a second, do I have to know who I am in order to feel like myself?

(My answer to that last question is no. No, I do not. In fact, it can go in reverse! I can follow the feeling to discover more about who I am: what activities or circumstances give me that sense of, "Oh, this is where I belong/this fits/this feels like me"?)

So when do I feel most like myself?

I feel most like myself while engaging in creative activities. While with people I love, especially if we are being goofy or cuddling or having an intense, revelatory conversation. While planning things (I know, it's dorky but it's true). While dancing or walking or stretching otherwise using my body.

In a general sense, I feel like myself while doing things instead of not doing things. They don't have to be fancy or meaningful or particularly special things, it's just being up and engage instead of, well, the opposite. At the end of an evening puttering around the apartment with the TV on in the background, I'll feel more like myself than if I give in to the allure of the couch and enter sloth-mode for the night.

Which brings us back to my antidepressant-fueled realization: energy. All of this is moot if I don't have the energy or desire or ability to do the things that make me feel like me. Sometimes that energy comes from an antidepressant, sometimes it comes from a good night's sleep, and sometimes it comes from a mental pep talk and forcing yourself to start. Without it, however, it's just an exhausting slog through a bog in the fog.

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