We all play a role in our families, often times more than one. Some fill the role of peacemaker, others the identified patient. Of course, these are not the only roles that must be at least subconsciously acknowledged, then fulfilled in some form.
These are the rules of family dynamics, and everyone plays, knowingly or not. As people and circumstances evolve, the roles re-order themselves to fit with change, whether change comes from the death of a loved one or a grown child moving far from home.
I am the identified patient in my family. It may not be my only role, yet it is the one that stands out to me the most. And as it stands now such a role, left unchanged, threatens my independence.
In an effort to explain what it means to be an identified patient without giving a detailed example about my personal life, I will use a character named Suzie and her parents to illustrate my example. Suzie has depression. Suzie's parents focus on her depression in a subconscious effort to ignore communication and marital issues they have been having. If you want to know how it feels to be the identified patient, well it doesnt feel good, it sucks actually and comes with a lot of strings attached. You often feel like the scapegoat which can also be accompanied by massive guilt.
My status as identified patient is not a temporary fixture in my life, rather rooted from childhood. With, doting, loving, overprotective parents. My role is greatly informed by CP. In fact, I am almost certain that my role would be different if Cerebral Palsy were not a part of my life. The role of identified patient is drawn out not only by the fact of disability, but by seven childhood surgeries, as well as countless hours of physical and occupational therapy.
The role I have in my family is still with me to this day, through my struggle with anxiety and depression. I am working to change my role within the dynamics of my family so that it no longer threatens my independence, but allows it to flourish.
Above all, I find this to be true: I will not succeed in such change alone.
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