OCD · Personal

Labels – Don’t Let Them Define You

I find that nowadays people can get labelled with a mental illness, rather than just being diagnosed.

Now this may seem confusing, you would think that they’re the same thing, but I disagree.

Being labelled with a mental illness – You are OCD.

Being diagnosed with a mental illness – You have OCD.

Those two phrases  are polar opposites apart. There’s a huge difference between feeling like you are OCD, to feeling like you have OCD. It’s something that, in recovery from any mental illness, is a crucial thing. I entered therapy with the mindset that I was my OCD. OCD overcame me as a person, I didn’t see myself as anything other than OCD. So that’s what I labelled myself with. It’s not until recently that I’ve accepted that, yes I have OCD, but that doesn’t mean that I am OCD. I’m Ellen! I may struggle with mental illnesses, I may at times get overpowered by my OCD, but I will now never let it become my identity. Each and everyone of you out there are more than you’re mental illness. It’s something that I push forward a lot with my blog, but it’s because I see it as a pivotal factor in recovery and an important thing to keep reminding ourselves about.

It’s a challenge that I think many of us struggle with. Especially in the initial stages of coming to terms with the fact that you might be struggling with a mental illness.  Having all these criteria, questionnaires and information all at once can be quite overwhelming. It can leave you feeling like, is this who I am now? When, if you think, the diagnosis only states that you have that specific mental illness, not that you are it. However, from personal experience and I’m sure many of you may of had similar experiences, this isn’t actually as easy to accept in your mind as it sounds. The media can also end up just labeling mental illness.  This really doesn’t help anyone’s understanding.

So I though I might offer a few tips that could help you start to change this mindset. This is just from my experience, so I hope it may be of a little bit of assistance.

  • Make a pinboard. You can fill it with quotes, pictures, postcards, letters, anything! Things that make you who you are. If you like cheesecake (not sure why I thought of cheesecake!?) put pictures of that on your board. Song lyrics, anything. Then place it somewhere you will see it often. Above your bed, or on a wall in your room so that everyday you can look at it and get reminded what makes you, you.
  • Talk to people. Family members, friends, therapists, anyone. Never feel like your feelings are invalidated because you struggle from a mental illness.
  • Try mindfulness. Something that may seem a little strange, but can help. It can allow you to escape from some thoughts for a while and can often allow you to think in different ways than you maybe could have before.
  • Most importantly, remind yourself that you’re not your mental illness. Even if you don’t believe it, just try and say it. Think it, write it or even say it out loud! You deserve to feel like you are you, not your mental illness.
  • If you are really struggling, please please seek help. You can call the Samaritans on 08457 90 90 90, open 24 hours a day.

Hopefully this may have helped a little bit.  If I don’t post from now until Christmas, I hope everyone has a lovely day and take care of yourselves because Christmas can be a tricky time for many.

-Ellen x

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