Guess what. I like labels. I do. Labels exist for a reason. So we know what things are and when we know what things are we are more likely to know how they work and I have just a few labels fixated to my name. These labels represent who I am to a degree and I am okay with that. Labels help me to understand my environment and how to exist in the environment. And that’s not just me. That is what a label is, its an identification tag. So… when someone tells me that I am not my labels. E.g. “Your diagnosis does not define you.” YES IT DOES! It’s not my entirety, no. My entirety is made up of many labels.
Here, in no particular order, are my labels
Borderline Personality Disorder
Sensory Processing Disorder
I could go on but that’s pretty good compilation, I do also have Complex PTSD but that does not define me as it is a transient malaise. I won’t have it forever. Now I would like to make this as clear as I can. I DO NOT HAVE A PROBLEM WITH A SINGLE ONE OF THOSE LABELS. I have done the soul searching, and the speaking to the psychiatric professionals, cross referenced with my own research and personal experience and have come out with the conclusion that these labels are fairly accurate.
HOWEVER, no matter how comfortable I am in my neatly labelled skin people love to tell me not to get hooked on labels, that these things don’t define me. YES THEY DO!
ADHD – I’m scatter brained, I am creative and spontaneous, I am thoughtful and impulsive. I am emotional. I think differently to other people and I learn differently to other people. I have a lot of thoughts, A LOT of thoughts, I have thoughts about my thoughts and they run in tangent with my first thoughts and in the background there’s a thought galloping around like a llama strayed from the heard. I’m also taking in all the information all the time. My filter does not do the filtering. I can’t focus on a conversation if there’s a song I know in the background, I can’t block it out.
The Anxiety, Depression and sensory processing disorder are all comorbid conditions. Which just means that because I have the ADHD I’m a lot more likely to have these conditions too.
Now I was worrying about how I was going to cope with being an adult when I was 8 years old. I have experienced anxiety for as long as I can remember. It is a part of me, it has shaped how I interact with my environment. Now depression, fair enough that happened a little latter but hell, it rears its ugly head often enough that its one an honour art seat at my table although I reserve the right to ignore it.
Sensory Processing Disorder – This label explains my high pain threshold, my love of ice, specifically ice lollies or crushed ice or frozen grapes. It also explains my absolute love of water. Water calms me, it fascinates me, its where I feel most comfortable. It explains why I hate sudden loud noises (I’m looking at you balloons). Why the skin around orange segments makes me gag, why the touch of velvet (the fabric not the novel) makes me want to hit myself or the velvet wearing culprit and why wearing tight uncomfortable clothing in a supermarket full of people, noise fluorescent lighting is enough to give me a sensory meltdown.
BPD – I’ve covered this before, I’m not going to go into it again. It explains… a lot. A whole lot. And that explanation has meant that I have learnt how to exist in the world more peacefully. That label has meant that I have been able to understand myself better and to communicate my needs to others better. This diagnosis could also possibly be something else, it could be a different label but the outcome would be the same thing. It. Helps. Me.
So please tell me how and why I should separate these things and say that they do not define me, when they do. All these labels help paint a picture that is me and that’s not a bad thing. What is a bad thing, is assuming that those labels are negative. Because I do not see it that way. All those labels do is explain. The Judgements that people place on those labels are bad. ADHD isn’t bad. It just is. Anxiety isn’t great but fuck it, its there and everyone and their cat has varying degrees of it so what? Bisexual? People need to know when I am hitting on them! It’s not always that clear.
Now when someone gives me some of their labels it helps me understand them better but I should always be aware of my own bias, my own judgements and when in doubt, ask.
The important bit here is the autonomy. We get to choose our labels. Other people may try to label us but its down to us to decide on whether that label really belongs there. It is my body. My brain. I get to decide on what authentically represents me. It’s also not my place to tell someone that a label doesn’t fit them. I do not know others well enough to tell them who they are. That is not my place.
I know myself. I like myself, I am still learning about myself and those labels may change, grow or diminish but that’s my problem, not yours.
Also I am aware that my labels may affect the way others see me and their perspective may not be accurate or without prejudice but that shouldn’t mean that I don’t get to choose.
*flies off into the sunset*