Why My 'Label' Is Important for My Mental Illness

I can’t begin to tell you the number of people who have asked me, “Why do you need a label?”

Well, to me it’s not just a label; it’s an answer to questions I’ve asked my entire life — a reason why I feel so different. It’s that someone recognizes my struggle. More importantly, if I know my “label” then I can know my symptoms. When I don’t know my label, I don’t have a name for what I’m fighting and I don’t have insight. If I don’t know my symptoms, I don’t know when I’m symptomatic.

So if a song comes on the radio, and I just know they wrote it specifically about me and my mind starts to wander into grandiose delusional thinking, I can ground myself. I can say, “This is a symptom.” If I refuse to have a label, I might think I’m not ill, and if I think I’m not ill, I may cave in when the epiphany that I must be the Virgin Mary comes worming its way into my thoughts and causes me to buy a pregnancy test just to see if I’m with child, even if I haven’t “been” with anyone. Yes, it’s happened.

So before you ask someone “Why do you need a label?” Remember for me, a label is stability. It is a grounding force in a world where reality has to be fought for. It is not just a “label” — it’s a lifeline.

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Thinkstock photo via Ivary

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