I am a person with the disease of alcoholism and addiction ,I am not “an alcoholic.”
Similarly, some people call my children autistic. In reality, they are teenagers who have the neurobiological disease of autism. They are my children—quirky, lovable, with multiple personal traits that make them uniquely who they are. They are Mary and Max.
The distinction is important, especially to a person who has a disease that can be used to describe that person. “This is Erin, she is a diabetic.” She is a teacher, a daughter, a wife, a warm, funny person with a smile that can light up a room. She is human, good and bad, full of characteristics that make her the human being that she is. There is only one of her in the whole universe. To whittle her down to “a diabetic” negates the rest of her essence.
We are defined many times by what we choose to do to bring light and positive change to the disorder we have been presented with.
But we are not the disease. I am not an alcoholic.
I have alcoholism.