Does anybody else feel as though they have been given a label? I really struggle with this topic. Through medical diagnoses I have been given the following labels...
- anxiety disorder
- chemical imbalance
- mental break down
And through non professionals I have been labelled...
- highly sensitive person
- traits of bipolar disorder
- weak and oversensitive
Now which of these do I agree with? I was bereaved but coping with it in my own way, I am quite a sensitive person and feel stress and pressure probably more than the majority, I have anxiety which I see as mild, I have had a mental break down, it felt as though something was imbalanced in both my mind and body. I am not 'weak' and never have been. But do these labels really matter?
For those seeking a medical diagnosis, treatment, therapy, counselling then yes you do need a label. To receive the best possible care and help you need an exact diagnoses, something more precise than anxiety such as social anxiety, therefore you need a correct and accurate label. So after the diagnosis and received treatment do we still need the label?
As you know I don't have a problem with telling anyone that I have anxiety and depression. I will talk about bereavement openly and admit I am highly sensitive sometimes. I have no problem explaining about how I felt during my breakdown and I know I am easily stressed out and overwhelmed at times. Sometimes these labels are useful. They have helped me make connections with people and can sometimes explain to others how or why I may do things. They also help me analysis myself and know my own needs better.
But labels can also be very misleading and misunderstood.
I accept that I have depression but sometimes I speak to others who are in the same 'depressed' label group as me and see that we are very, very different. I often think I'm not as depressed as others or don't always relate to how others describe their depression. The same goes for anxiety. This can seem confusing and make me feel a bit of an outsider in my own 'group' at times.
And it's not just how I see myself. It's how others see me too. I have spoken to others about depression and they have linked it to meaning that I must have been suicidal. They have mistaken anxiety for phobias. They have often decided that bereavement and depression are the same and they are very different. They have compared me to a celeb or friend who also have a mental illness and presumed that I must be exactly the same. Even if it's a different mental illness. They have their own beliefs that dictates what my mental illness must say about me. The may class all mental illnesses as being the same or base them on something they have seen in a film.
It's this side of labels that are dangerous. Mental illness like all illnesses can fall onto a spectrum. People can have the same mental illness but be at a different stage of that illness, cope with it differently, have different feelings and attitudes towards it. We are still a person and that makes us very unique in all aspects of our lives. We are all different. There maybe similarities between one mentally ill person to the next with the same illness but they will never be identical.