“Labels are for jelly jars”

 

Rethink Mental Illness

What do you think?

 

thanks Ruby Tuesday for the title of my post…hope you’re ok that I borrowed it.

 

(You can click on Ruby’s name to read her post)

 

Therese Borchard’s Beyond Blue blog addresses a topic that has plagued me off and on since I was diagnosed and thus ‘labeled’.  I still wonder at times (most often when I’m thinking with my ‘sick’ mind) IF I really am bipolar.  Do I live up to the label?  Do I NOT allow for God’s healing?  Very weighty questions.  I can put a real guilt trip on myself if I answer ‘yes’.  Then I ask, why do I question?  I am how I am.  I am how God made me to be.  Is that not good enough?

 

Not feeling well today…took the day off from my internship.  I’m feeling guilty that I should ever get sick…either in mind or body.  But that is part of me too.  Don’t give in to the sickness…it makes me a ‘weak’ person.  But does it?

 

So many questions…I’m going back to bed.  In the meantime, I hope you read Therese’s piece called “Label Me, Please”

 

For a long while I was afraid to write things such as “I am mentally ill” or “I am bipolar.” I was afraid of labels.

By calling myself a manic-depressive would I trap my psyche in “sick” mode? By accepting my diagnosis of bipolar disorder, would I prevent healing? By writing the words “I am mentally ill,” was I holding myself to a place that I was, but not where I am now, or where I could go?

I spent a fair amount of time pondering this (I’m a natural ruminator)–I thought about attracting bad karma by writing about my illness, about feeding my anxiety by connecting with others who also struggle with depression, about stifling my spirit by posing all of my questions and frustrations online in an effort to figure out and assemble this humongous, Anchisaurus (a kind of dinosaur) 500-plus piece puzzle of mental illness.

Here is my response to Ruby’s modification of her original post on A Canvas of the Minds (a blog written by many wonderful contributors)

 

I’ve fluctuated back and forth about bipolar in the past 2 1/2 years since I was diagnosed. At first I was really relieved; then I was pissed. Most of the time now I see it as a blessing. I know I am how and who I am because I wear this invisible sign around my neck. Although, only those who know about it, know about it. I’ve become a lot more selective with who I share it with. For awhile I identified so much with bipolar that I got very defensive and wanted to prove to everyone that I could still function in the midst of a mental illness. Then when I started to have many stable days in a row, it was hard to believe that I’d experienced rapid cycling and I thought those around me would think I made it all up. I wondered if I really even had bipolar. Now, I know that it’s part of me just like my hazel eyes, brown hair, quiet nature. At times I have held it at arm’s length because I just didn’t want to be like all of ‘those’ people. Two sides of the same coin. I was proud to be associated with so many wonderful famous people, but I didn’t want to be seen as ‘crazy’. Actually, like most things with me…it’s all in my head! No one brings it up. The only people who ask know to the extent that I’ve been safe sharing it with them. They ask how I’m doing or how I’m managing my symptoms.  Those are some of my family, a few close friends, and this wonderful woman from my church who heard me speak when I did a mental health advocacy speech last fall. Otherwise, it’s just those that I blog with and for.
If it weren’t for my diagnosis, I wouldn’t be on a completely new path for my life. I wouldn’t be going to graduate school. I wouldn’t be advocating for those of us with a difference in brain processing. I would maybe still be wondering why and still searching for why I am different. I wouldn’t have learned so many effective ways of self-care and how to cope. I am able to love myself now rather than wish I were someone else. I trust myself and my feelings. I don’t feel ashamed or guilty for my behavior or words because I can stop the thoughts of ‘it’s not MY fault; it’s yours’ while the other person in my midst felt run over by a truck or had to walk on egg shells because of my mood swings. All this because I have bipolar. I am a wonderful, caring, compassionate, empathetic, deep thinker. I look for the beauty and blessings around me everyday. Because of my heightened awareness, I am privy to amazing things that go right over the heads of others. I am so much more than my diagnosis.

 

 

2 thoughts on ““Labels are for jelly jars”

  1. Good post! It’s all about taking serious who you are – with all that’s in you… That makes you you as an unique person..
    And there’s no reason to feel guilty when you’re sick. But you know… and I know…. I don’t have to tell you, I don’t have to tell myself. Taking care of yourself when you’re sick is strong:)

  2. Pingback: It’s been a few of “those” days « onbeingmindful

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