This week we’re introduced to a disorder that I had personally never heard of. I’m grateful to be able to, once again, share someone else’s story with you, as Finding Who We Are continues to roll on.
Kenzie Caster is a student at the college I work at and she responded to a message asking for submissions to the series. She has a powerful story and I’m sure we can all relate in some way.
We hope that you are encouraged!
“Hi, I’m Mckenzie, but I prefer Kenzie. I’m 21, I live in North Carolina, and I’m a junior in college.”
Ever had to introduce yourself? Maybe it was for a school project or meeting a new friend? What about introducing yourself to yourself?
This is how I live my life. I’m constantly looking for something to define me. Sure. We all look for something to define us, but for me, this comes from a mental disorder called AVPD (Avoidant Personality Disorder).
It’s almost as if I’m having to introduce myself to myself every single day, and constantly looking for something to define me. It’s a personality disorder so it attacks the essence of who I am.
I out who I am in my head all the time. Telling myself and making sure I know who I am. It can also make me feel super intimidated to be with people because I make up in my head what they already think of me.
When I was born I had a lot of medical problems that would take this entire post to describe. Basically, for a while it defined me.
I was known as the “miracle baby” because doctors told me I’d be lucky to live to reach a certain age Because of these medical things, I was told I “would never” be able to do things. I would never be able to be independent or drive because of my eyes or because I was short. So guess what? That defined me.
I came to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ at an early age and didn’t quite understand it fully even though I was raised in a Christian home. Throughout my life, early child years, and preteen years, I learned that Jesus defined me.
What did that mean?
Because of this, I tried to define myself by the fact that I was a “Christian”. Then, fear and shame of all that I had done wrong as a child( I was the trouble child), slowly crept in and I let that define me. I never realized that Jesus was the one who told me who I was.
Entering my teen years, and the transition from being home schooled to public school, was big. Getting picked on in middle school didn’t help my transition or make it any easier.
Then I was put in a “special help” class because I struggled with school academically. I was told that because I struggled in school, I wouldn’t be able to make it in college or even a regular job for that matter. It was a classic story of the outcast, weird kid…add on braces and glasses and I was the kid nobody wanted as a friend.
I had few friends in school. Middle school and high school were difficult. While I wasn’t called names, I picked on myself because of what I saw.
I called myself names.
I told myself how awful I must be if no one wanted to be my friend.
I began to self destruct because I had had enough; Enough of it all.
I knew my own brain, and at the time, I had no name for what was going on. All that I knew was how weird and strange I was. I hated it and didn’t know anyway else to rid the pain. I punished myself for being myself.
It wasn’t until my senior year that I had friends,these friends were younger and in grades lower than me and I didn’t care because I had friends.
Then another defining moment came when I was diagnosed with AVPD and GAD (generalized anxiety disorder). I sat with a psychologist for two and a half hours on the day before my twentieth birthday. I was angry and afterwards, I was depressed with what I had just been told. I then let the names of the mental disorders tell me who I am.
This was my brick wall.
I didn’t wanna live anymore. I thought living with these words would be the death of me. I had to carry these until I realized that’s these “names” didn’t really mean anything. They were just helping me by knowing what was there all along.
It wasn’t until college that I learned the only person who was defining me by something else was me.
I was the problem. Nobody else saw me how I saw myself. Nobody defined me how I defined me. The people I came in contact with and JESUS didn’t even look at me the way I looked at myself.
I finally began to discover that being myself was enough, I was enough. I didn’t have to keep defining myself. Jesus already did that and it didn’t matter, he still looked at me the same way.
I started counseling for my GAD and AVPD, and during this time I found 2 Corinthians 10:7:
“Look at what is before your eyes. If anyone is confident that he is Christ’s, let him remind himself that just as he is Christ’s, so also are we”
It was then that I really realized that I have to remind myself that I belong to Christ and nothing apart from that fact can change who I am. No more defining. Jesus did the defining for me.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m not cured just because of the verse. I still struggle. I still wake up some mornings unsure of who I am.
I still have to tell myself who I am, but In a different light, in a way I didn’t know how to do before. In this way, I learned to tell myself who I was instead of the names I would call myself. the only name Jesus calls me is “mine”
Thank you, Kenzie, for sharing your story and being an encouragement! You are making a difference in lives that you may never even realize.
You are loved.
You are valued.