We are a society that likes labels. We like to be able to put people in little boxes so that we can understand them and know how to interact with them. Conducive to society maybe but is that beneficial to the person being labelled? Is it productive for someone diagnosed with a mental illness? Do labels help?
Label:[ley-buh l] noun: a short word or phrase descriptive of a person, group, intellectual movement, etc.
Doctors need labels. They need labels to be able to identify a patient’s illness and decide on a prescribed treatment plan. The diagnosis gives them direction. But when dealing with mental illness, because there aren’t any verifying tests, a label is not that simple to place and, it is also not so easily removed. That label, right or wrong, carries great stigma for the diagnosed person within our society.
And that adds a whole other dynamic to being labelled.
For some, a label can be helpful if years of unexplained symptoms and self blame now gives the person a starting point. A direction for treatment and a goal of stability may now seem attainable to the patient due to the diagnosis. For those that this is true for, their “label” is empowering.
For my husband, the label is an admission much like his alcoholism. He feels a label of bipolar depression helps him understand how his brain works and helps him understand what he needs to do to combat those natural instincts that throw his life into chaos.
For others, the label or diagnosis can be like a prison.
- Some people feel like the diagnosis limits their potential.
- Some people limit themselves because of their label.
- Some people feel like society places limits upon them.
They may also feel that the diagnosis is the wrong “label” for them, and then have to struggle to be identified correctly. That becomes their focus and the chance for recovery or progress towards wellness is severely impaired.
If you do suffer from a mental illness, do what is best for you. If you agree with your diagnosis and find it gives you an explanation for your symptoms, then embrace it and use it to move towards stability.
If you feel your diagnosis is incorrect, you have a right to disagree. Doctors can be wrong. Keep fighting to be diagnosed correctly and receive the proper treatment.
If you feel your diagnosis is a label you do not wish to wear, then break free. Do what is best for your own mental health and stability.
You are an individual. Whether or not you choose to be labelled, remember there is always wiggle room, even inside the box.
Recommended Reading: (affiliate links)
Loving Someone with Bipolar Disorder: Understanding and Helping Your Partner
Take Charge of Bipolar Disorder: A 4-Step Plan for You and Your Loved Ones to Manage the Illness and Create Lasting Stability
Bipolar Disorder: A Guide for Patients and Families
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