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 wouldn’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.