The Identified Patient

I attend a dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) class four days a week, and lately the teaching therapist has been tossing the term “identified patient” at me, usually in reference to my poor attitude or my history of being sick as a child.

Today she said I made somewhat of a dent in the identified patient moniker by using dialectics and seeing both sides of a situation. In all honesty, I’m pretty open minded and apt to look at things a million different ways, which makes me terrible at persuasion. However, I do think that coming to the class armed with my worst experiences to work on every day tainted her image of me.

I will admit to being a Negative Nancy and a Whiner McBabypants. From my perspective, if I perceive a problem, I will speak up in order to work on it. Unfortunately for those around me I am a verbal processor, so working things out does involve whining.

Another caveat to this therapist’s definition of the identified patient is helplessness and being pathetic. I can guarantee that if I were both or even one of those things, I would not have created this blog. This blog was created in the pursuit of empowerment for myself and others with similar experiences. Yes, do I throw pity parties? Heck yes I do. It’s part of being me. Negative Nancy O’Shea cries over spilled milk then makes a vegan avocado milkshake.

Ultimately, the takeaway is this: maybe I was erroneously taken to the doctor as a child. Perhaps I whine too much. Maybe I’m a sunshine zapper. But there’s a lot more to me than that. We all have our flaws, and I guarantee if you look hard enough, people have pinned a thousand to Jesus Christ and the Buddha.

It doesn’t matter if you were an identified patient, identified subject, whatever, it does matter if you own it and work it.

Watch the way I fake my problems for attention, yeah yeah I work it! Oh wait, I actually don’t do that…

Keeping My Identity With Chronic Illness: Good Day Oatmeal Cookies

With my recent breakthrough in positive thinking after my diagnosis with fibromyalgia, I realize at the core of it is maintaining an identity, or keeping myself centered on who I am outside of my illness.

It’s easy to be swallowed up whole by fibromyalgia. When this happens I become bitter, depressed, and at my worst, angry.

Fibromyalgia anger, or painger (the experience of feeling anger because you’re in pain) is something that scares me. When I have painger I irrationally lash out at loved ones, the people I want to hurt the least. Painger takes my nastiness to a 12 on the Richter scale. It could destroy a continent.

In fact, it was for this reason that I started this blog, so I could have a space to talk about my illness, figure out ways to cope, carve out a community for myself, and maybe help others along the way.

Going back to identity and painger, part of a person’s identity involves the positive things they enjoy doing. Investing in positive aspects of your identity can help with painger.

I grew up in my family’s kitchen. The kitchen was the center of our home. When I was six and my sister was two, we tried making our first recipe. We had been left alone in the kitchen (no, I am not a boomer or gen X; Millenial here) and proceeded to destroy it by trying to make our own custom cake. My sister crawled around on the countertops at age two as we used a hand mixer from the 1950s, boiled noodles, and did something awful to the microwave. At the end my sister and I were covered in splatters of chocolate, and the kitchen was splashed in it. Dad came in and yelled at us, but we did it again. We were just successful the next time.

In this positive addition to my identity, I am exploring something I have always loved: baking. Mixing with your bare hands and pounding bread is a great way to alleviate painger and all kinds of negative emotions!

Vegan Oatmeal Cookies


– 2 cups white sugar

– 1 cup vegetable oil

– 2 tsp vanilla

– 2 Tbsp soy milk

– 2 cups all purpose flour

– 1 tsp baking powder

– 1 tsp baking soda

– 1 tsp salt

– 2 cups oatmeal

– 1 tsp pumpkin spice

– 2 Tbsp molasses

– 1 cup raisins


Preheat Oven to 350 degrees

Wash your hands and combine wet ingredients

Add in oatmeal and dry ingredients

Wet your hands and use a spoon to make rounded balls of cookie dough. Place the balls of dough on a greased cookie sheet and bake for 10 minutes.

My baker chronic illness warriors, may you have good moments and days ahead to live your identities. Remember even if you can’t, you are still you. There are other ways to find who you are.

We all are, chronically ill or not, learning how to live with what we are.

And with that, a recap:

Pocket full of starlight: the negative feelings that come with chronic illness have remedies. There’s almost nothing a warm cookie can’t fix.

Pocket full of darkness: sometimes our negative emotions can’t be helped. It’s okay if you can’t stir a spoon right now or if you just yelled at the cat. There are thousands of yous waiting on the horizon of life.