Recently I shared a post on The Lithium Chronicles about traits that are associated with antisocial personality disorder, and things got nasty quickly. People often message the page asking for information and I do my best to provide that information for them, remember I’m not a doctor, but I do know a thing or two about mental illness. I’m getting off point. The nastiness came from a few people, who stated that they are sick and tired of being labeled, and I get it, but this is a conversation that needs to be had.
First of all, you are not your illness. I’m going to say that again for the ones that may not have heard that the first time. You are not your illness, but we have names for illnesses for very specific reasons and I’m going to try to break some of those reasons down now
Mental illness is real. There are so many different characteristics and symptoms and traits of different disorders that it is staggering, and they all present themselves differently at different times. When we can correctly identify an illness or a behavior or a symptom of a disorder and put a name to that, (some would call that a label) there is a greater chance of a correct diagnosis. With a correct diagnosis there is a greater chance of reliable and proper treatment and care. With proper treatment and care there is a greater chance of recovery. With a greater chance of recovery there is a greater chance of stability. With a greater chance of stability comes a greater chance at a healthier life. With a greater chance at a healthier life comes happiness.
Does that make sense? I’m not trying to trivialize things, I’m just trying to break it down as simply as possible. Now comes the hard part.
It is your choice if you want to wear that label. I am Nicole. I am not Bipolar Nicole, nor am I Nicole with Bipolar. I’m just Nicole. Sometimes the fact that I have bipolar disorder does come up but it’s not a huge issue anymore. I agree with the whole, “labels are for jars not for people” but again, it’s your choice. We get so bent out of shape focusing on the language of things, and I agree that some of it has to change, it really does, but there are very valid reasons for why disorders and illnesses and traits have names. Are we going to take away all the names for physical illness as well? Of course not, that is silly, so is this.
You are not your illness unless you choose to be. You are whatever you want to be. Hi. My name is Nicole and it’s really nice to meet you.