Labels

People are reluctant to seek help when they need it for fear of “labels”.  They don’t want to be slapped with a label or have their children plastered with labels.  Nobody wants to feel as though they have “Anxiety” or “Schitzophrenia” or “Bipolar” branded onto their forehead for all the world to see.  Nobody wants to feel that judged in every aspect of every day.

When I get a cold I admit that I caught a cold and I’m sick.  I just need to rest and I’ll get better.  I don’t try to cover it up or downplay it.  (No, no, I just have a runny nose I’m not actually sick.  I’m just clearing my throat, I don’t have a nasty cough.)

Yet I don’t just say that I’m depressed and I’m sick.  I just need rest and love and I’ll get better.

Why are the labels okay in one situation and not the other?

When I buy meat from the store I can be informed on what type of meat it is.  I would like to know if this is duck or if it is chicken.  It affects the what I do with the meat.  It doesn’t make one meat better or worse.  It’s just a way of understanding what you’re getting.

That’s how labels should be.

My labels were never meant to identify me, just my struggles.

We all have struggles.

What identifies us is how we’re able to use our weakness; how we rise above our challenges.  How we treat ourselves and others.

I am not actually a walking tangle of anxiety.  I am not a hollowed out shell whose weak limbs are too heavy to move.

I get sick like that sometimes.  I also get colds sometimes.

The label of disorders or mental illness should be meant strictly as a guide.  By having anxiety, I’m more likely to have certain behavioural qualities of someone else who has anxiety.  We share certain very basic thought processes, fears and actions.  We have similar coping mechanisms that work for us.  We’re more likely to seek out certain medicating treatments.  I will react better to certain medications and treatments.

I won’t share the same symptoms, behaviours or coping mechanisms with someone with dissociative identity disorder like I would with someone with anxiety.

If we step back from judgment than we can see that a label is actually a good thing when used correctly.

I need to be able to have a decent understanding of what’s going on in my mind and have ways to cope with it when my attacks happen.  I Labelswouldn’t be able to do that if I shut myself out of the idea of getting diagnosed.

If my children have mental disorders or illnesses, or any disabilities, I want to know what they are.  When I know why they’re struggling so that I can learn how to help them.  Until then I’m grasping at straws, flailing blindly and holding them up to standards that they cannot live up to.

I cannot control how you react to me and my struggles, but I can control how I respond to you and behave towards you.  I will not flinch if you tell me you’re a Christian or an atheist.  I will not treat you any differently just because you tell me you’re a millionaire or you’re homeless.  I will not be afraid of you if you tell me that you are schizophrenic and I will not fall in love with you because you tell me you’re famous.  All of these things give me tidbits of information about your life, but none of these things tell me if you’re a good person or not.

It’s time to stop covering up our labels and  hiding them from the world.  Wear them proudly because they are a way of allowing us to understand one another.  If someone should judge us based solely on the labels we wear, it is their flaw, their lack of knowing that led them to that decision.  They are likely still hiding their own labels with shame and need our support and understanding.

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4 thoughts on “Labels

  1. Rose

    What a wonderful way of looking at labels, esp mental health.

    All the efforts of which I am aware which have tried to address stigma have focused on changing others. You have brilliantly changed the focus to something we know but seem to keep forgetting: you cannot change others, you can only change yourself.

    I might just start changing the letters after my name from MA, RPsych, to *GAD, MDD.

    Do you think that would scare off clients? 😊

    *Generalized Anxiety Disorder; Major Depressive Disorder

    (((((((((( Rose ))))))))))

    Like

    • I began telling people early on about my labels when I was a teenager and back then it was about self preservation. It hurt less to be snubbed by a stranger than a friend because of things that are viewed as flaws. My theory was that if you’re going to judge me based on that, I didn’t need you in my life. As I’ve grown, I’ve learned that when you’re honest and open about everything, at first people don’t know how to react, and then they are happy to have someone to be honest and open with in return.

      You could very well get criticized for being blunt. There are certain professions that we seem to wrongly associate with perfection and it’s too bad. Any one who is interested or involved in psychology has personal experience with it that drew them to the field so it shouldn’t be shocking at all to find out the person you’re seeking help from also shares your struggles and passions.

      Having said that, no matter how much we tiptoe around life, we’ll still cause enough of a breeze to ruffle someone’s feathers. There’s no point in trying to please everyone. Instead we need to stand up for what is right and teach by example.

      I’m very glad you enjoyed this post. I’ll have more coming yet that you’ll be interested in for sure and I’ll make sure you get to read them.

      Like

  2. I use to worry about ruffling feathers. Eventually I discovered it really didn’t matter. There was always going to be someone with ruffled feathers. So I decided I would worry more about my intent. There will always be someone who thinks things should be different, or you should react differently. Now I believe the best I can give someone is my truth, my honesty and my respect. The listening part, I am still working on. To be able to listen is quite a gift. I learned I have just as much right to be me, as the other person has the right to be them. It’s ok to be different. No two flowers are alike, no two snowflakes. Everything has its own beauty! I ramble, I love your writing!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I was always shy, so listening was a strong point for me. Speaking up on the other hand…that’s why I write.

      I’m glad you’re enjoying my writing. It feels good to share my stuff now.

      Like

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