17 October 2011

I am not my diagnosis

When I was at Laurel Ridge the first time, one of the therapists who led group sessions had a rule. You didn't say "I am *insert diagnosis here*", you said "I have a diagnosis of *insert diagnosis here*". So, taking myself for example. I couldn't say "I am depressed", I had to say "I have a diagnosis of PostPartum Depression" or "My diagnosis is PPD". We asked him why he had that rule and he explained to us that "You own your diagnosis, your diagnosis does not own you".

That didn't make a whole lot of sense to me at the time. I went by the rule but was like "Whatever". After the fact, however, it started making a lot of sense. I started to realize something very important: that I am not my diagnosis. I am not PostPartum Depression. I had PPD, yes, but it was a small part of who I was, a small facet of my personality and individuality. I realize now that to automatically assume that someone's behavior, feelings, attitude, etc. must be because they have PPD, OCD, BiPolar, etc. is to say "You don't matter. You are nothing more than your diagnosis. When I look at you, I don't see a person, I see *insert diagnosis here*". For someone to say "Oh well, you just feel that way or say that because you have PPD" if I tried to say "No, I'm really not okay with that" was for them to take away my individuality, to minimize my feelings. Essentially, they were saying "You no longer have a right to feel, act, speak, or think simply as a human. You are nothing more than your condition.". For them to do that was for them to minimize my feelings, to invalidate me.

Just because someone has what you consider a problem, whether it be a mental/emotional health condition, a physical impairment, an addiction, etc., does not reduce them to nothing more than that diagnosis or issue. Don't make the mistake of objectifying them. They are still an individual with human feelings, thoughts, and emotions. They still retain the right to disagree, to think someone is a jerk, to get mad, sad, glad, or any other emotion, and express it without it being because of their diagnosis. Don't objectify and belittle them like that.

If you're reading this and you are the one doing this to yourself, don't limit yourself like that. Recognize that you are not your diagnosis. You are so much more. You deserve so much more than reducing yourself or allowing yourself to be reduced to a short description like that. Regardless of how you prefer to word your statements, change your thinking. Be yourself first and foremost, not your condition. Rise above the labels. You are more than your diagnosis. You are you.


1 comment:

  1. This is a very powerful post, it's so important.
    Sometimes I have to remind myself that I am more than PPD. Thank you for this.