I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the labels we have attached to us when we have a chronic physical or mental illness. They are powerful labels that can be associated with a lot of stigma, sadness or make you feel a little bit hopeless. I am trying to think of labels as something I ‘have’ rather than ‘am’.
When you have any kind of illness (mental or physical), it’s often likely that you will receive a diagnosis or something that labels the struggles you are having. Sometimes there can be a huge relief from having an understanding of what is happening for you, or a diagnosis / label that can lead to additional support or treatment; but sometimes a label can feel like a negative thing, it can lead to feelings of hopeless and shame.
As someone who has had difficulties with their mental health for a number of years, I have experienced the challenging and often complicated feelings that come with being given a label for a condition. It feels like some illnesses and difficulties can rate higher on a scale of what’s socially acceptable; whereas others aren’t spoken about and feel almost taboo. Some conditions are frowned upon and seen as ‘fake’ or unworthy of support or care.
I’ve been thinking a lot about the other labels that represent me. I have mental and physical health conditions but I’m not ‘broken’ or ‘mad’; I’m poorly and that’s ok. It’s not my fault and it doesn’t have to be my identity. I ‘have’ mental and physical illness, which is a part of my life that I have to manage daily. But I am also learning to love that I am a creative who can write, paint, journal, crochet and think in ways that are a little out of the box. I’m a writer, fundraiser, project manager, sister, daughter, cat mumma… and so much more. I am proud of who I am and I won’t let my illness take that away from me.
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