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When Labels Are a Good Thing

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I’ve been talking a lot about identity on here lately. Identity is a huge part of my story. I’ve learned to embrace my identity as transgender and queer, but I’ve also learned to embrace my identity as neurodivergent, disabled, and mentally ill. I’m also a trauma survivor, and while not all of these things are who I am, they certainly make up who I am. I don’t go up to random people and say “Hi I’m trans and autistic and by the way did you know I have bipolar and I’m disabled and oh I also have complex PTSD.” OK, well maybe once upon a time I did do that (I do struggle with social cues after all), but I’ve learned since to realize that there’s more to me than these things.

These days, I’ve been attending 12 step meetings for my various behavioral and substance addictions. So, I’ve now learned that when I’m in those meetings, I identify as an addict, alcoholic, self-harmer, eating disordered…. changing the title depending on the type of meeting. What’s key here is that I also identify that I’m in recovery. I want to focus on not that I used to drink or self-harm or have anorexia, but rather that I am recovering. Just as I recovering from my trauma.

As for being trans and neurodivergent, those things will always be a part of me, but again, depending on the space I’m in, I don’t always announce it (as much as I want to). Sometimes it’s also just plain obvious (I haven’t medically transitioned but have socially transitioned, plus the autism and ADHD often seep through my masking).

I’m learning to be KADEN—the guy who loves dogs and other animals, is a dog dad, is a writer, previously a student of psychology and creative writing, an author in progress, a writer for The Mighty, a survivor of many hardships.

What can you, my dear reader, take away from this?

I hope that you are able to see that labels can be a good thing. I also want you to see that my labels aren’t everything about me. They are just components of me. I’ve had to do a lot of thinking and therapy on this to get here, as well as journaling.

I am grateful to be in recovery from substance use, anorexia, bulimia, and binge eating disorder, as well as self-harm. I am grateful to be healing from my complex-PTSD through therapy, and to be medicated for ADHD, OCD, generalized anxiety disorder, and bipolar disorder.

I try to be of service through others through the written word, and I hope that this story resonates with someone today.

Getty image by Johner Images

Originally published: February 8, 2023
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