There are certain topics that cause people to get uncomfortable when discussed. This is especially true if those individuals don’t have any true knowledge of or first-hand experience with the topic. When we’re dealing with issues surrounded by stigma and negative connotation, it can be easy to avoid talking about them all together, but that doesn’t mean we should. One “uncomfortable” topic involves mental illness and how the power we attach to names, labels and diagnoses related to mental illness can have harmful consequences.
The Power of Words
We live in a world where a label can make or break your reputation. The same applies to a diagnosis; the technical term can create or eliminate opportunities, depending on the amount of knowledge someone has about it. But we shouldn’t allow words to put people into categories they didn’t ask to be put in. We must be willing to see that a diagnosis does not define a person; it’s a small piece of someone who is learning to survive, despite their struggle.
Words like “depression,” “borderline personality,” “obsessive-compulsive” and “PTSD” are just a few diagnoses that can cause hushed reactions, but they are also very relevant and need to be discussed. Yes, words are powerful, but we give them power only when we allow them to define who we are. Those who don’t truly understand what it’s like to battle mental illness can learn from those who do, the ones who live with it and have the best words to explain it.
Tell Your Story
What better way to have the final say than by openly talking about your struggles, mental illness and diagnosis? When you make the decision to share your story with the world, you get the opportunity to shed a light on a dark subject. By addressing what others are avoiding, and putting a name to your pain, shame and struggles, you can set yourself free from the stigma that often keeps people in the shadows.
Showing others that it’s okay to speak up lets them know there’s nothing to be afraid of. By talking about what makes us human, we’re showing others that we all struggle in some way. None of us are perfect, and a diagnosis doesn’t make you less of a person than anybody else.
How a Diagnosis Allows You to Heal
It’s important that we never let something like a diagnosis hold us back from pursuing other callings. It can often be difficult to hear that you have a weakness of some sort, because sometimes the hard part is accepting what you can’t change. Asking for help of any kind is challenging enough as it is, so to be told you may always need that help can be a tough pill to swallow.
When we can get past the word/diagnosis, we can learn what it means, and we can begin taking the proper steps to heal. It may always be a struggle that sticks with us, but it can be something we learn to cope with so well that it just becomes a small part of our lives, and not the whole thing.