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Who am I?

Karishma Soni

Who am I?  

They say the eyes are the window to the soul. They say everything that makes me, all that I am, is my mind.  

But what if my mind is broken? What if it is sick? 

In Psychiatry, the organ of illness is the brain. Patients who suffer from these illnesses grapple with the idea that their illness can affect who they are.  

If my mind is I? 

Many illnesses in Psychiatry are lifelong and affect the very core of our personalities and how we 

express ourselves to the world. The question then looms...  

Am I my illness?  

How much am I my illness? 

If I struggle with lifelong depression, when does my anhedonia become the personality trait of ‘introversion’? When does my low energy become the personality trait of ‘laid- back’?  

If I never get wholly ‘better,’ are the symptoms of my illness me? 

I often counsel patients and their families on how their illness creates a lens through which they see the world. It is a lens that colors everything they interpret and think, because the organ of illness is the mind.  

Sometimes patients get better and can recognize the lens. They can reframe their thoughts and subsequent behavior.  

Sometimes, patients will have that lens forever. The only option is to hope that awareness of the lens will help them think and see things closer to reality without the distortions of their illness.  

But some? Some will never be aware they were ever anything but their illness. Their lens is permanent, invisible, and indivisible from who they are.  

Who am I?  





Karishma Soni 

PGY2, Psychiatry, Carilion