Removing the Labels of Mental Illness
Mental illness is chronic in nature. It is, by its very definition, a disease. I, like many other people who struggle with mental illness, have a hard time digesting and accepting the words chronic and disease. A person with a disease is sick. A person with a chronic disease is consistently sick.
Does Having a Chronic Mental Illness Mean That I am Sick?
Yes, and no. An example: if you have bipolar disorder you have a chronic illness but if you are in recovery, the mental illness is in remission. You are then considered well; the illness remains but you are free of symptoms or they are drastically reduced.
The Negative Effects of Labels
It's hard, even when you are in recovery and stable, to forget that the mental illness carries baggage; in this case - labels. When I am stable, I go on with my life. I work and I visit family and friends. I write and play guitar. I go jogging with my dog at the beach. But even then, it's hard to shake the fact that I have a disease; I have bipolar disorder and I am a recovered addict. Even when life goes as smoothly as it can, it lingers in the back of my mind.
And I am not alone in this. Many of us diagnosed with a chronic mental illness struggle with the labels.
Separating the Diagnosis From the Person
When I was first diagnosed I had trouble separating myself, Natalie, from the illness. When you are first told you have a chronic mental illness, you wonder what it really means. You might wonder who you really are. Are you the same person you were before the diagnosis? Will you be the same person after you are treated?
In order to recover, we need to understand that we are not the diagnosis. Yes, the illness is chronic and yes it is a disease, but it is not who we are. Just a small part of it.
Leaving the Labels Behind
Once you accept that you have a mental illness and are willing to treat it, mental health recovery becomes possible. It takes at little work, patience and practice, but you can push the labels aside and embrace yourself. You are not your illness, you are simply yourself. Recovering from a mental illness is enough work, trying to figure out what the words chronic and disease mean are not necessary.
Just work to take care of yourself. Push the labels aside and put recovery first.
Champagne, N. (2011, September 8). Removing the Labels of Mental Illness, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2019, July 23 from https://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/recoveringfrommentalillness/2011/09/removing-the-labels-of-mental-illness
Author: Natalie Jeanne Champagne
First, I want to thank you for following my blog. I could not ask for more informed and educated comments. Thank you. Removing labels is,of course, easier said then done. I can vouche for this as I still struggle with it. Words cannot really descripe the experience.
What a fanastic reply. I agree completely. It takes time, and patience, to reach acceptance and disregard the label.
Thank you for the comment,