Don’t Become your Label

Loving the ADHD devil – DAY 20

Our modern world is all about organization, there are standards and plans for all of us, for everything we do. We have to go to school to learn the basics about everything, we need to choose how we want to earn money and educate ourselves before we are allowed to do anything. Once we receive a label that says “ready for life” we have to start working, find someone to make babies with, educate them and once we have completed all our duties, once we have pleased society, we are finally free, however, still we are expected to help out with grandchildren or stay active for as long as possible.

Besides the fixed path of education, work and retirement, there are even expectations on what we do with the time that is left. We are expected to have friends, to exercise, to go on holidays far away in the summer holidays, to save money and to eat healthy. There are standards for everything we do in life, expectations of how we are supposed to spend every hour we have. There is one mold everyone has to fit it, one normal everyone should adjust to.

Disorders protect our world from collapsing

Our society is afraid of differences, of things that are unfamiliar. Maybe because our modern world only exists as it is because of “THE” normal, because every deviation from this normal is a threat to our world. What if everyone would stop believing in our educational system, in paying taxes, in working from 9 to 5 or in putting money in a bank? Our world would drastically change into something different and this idea will scare many of us. People living according to “THE” normal is what keeps our world the way it is and that’s why it has become so important for our society to believe that this normal is the only way of living.

How? By making us believe that any difference or deviation from our normal is something bad and this is what the word disorder is invented for. Everything that does not fit the mold that is created for all of us, is labelled as a disorder, something that is not right, something that is negative, something that is a problem. Are you scared easily or too often? You’ll be labelled with anxiety disorder. Do you not eat enough, way too much or not the proper food? That’s why we have a label for eating-disorder. Are you unable to go to bed without turning your light on and off 30 times? You receive the label obsessive-compulsive disorder. And in the same way there is a disorder label for about every habit that does not fit the ordinary.

Labels only show the bad things

Everything that deviates from the normal is labelled with a name that describes the part that malfunctions, the part that needs to be fixed. Every (mental) label explains the part that is not accepted by society and treatment is always focussed on reshaping you into normal. There is simply no room for differences in this world, they can not just be accepted and allowed.

Look at ADHD, Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, a label that clearly describes the “problems” that come with this different type of brain. The list of symptoms takes it even further, as it is a sum up of everything ADHD brains can not do as good as the expected normal. We have problems paying attention, controlling our impulses, planning, regulating our emotions, finishing things, dealing with stress, managing our money… ADHD brains have many things that don’t fit the mold, many things that make the normal of education and employment very difficult, but instead of accepting the differences of this type of brain, we have to label them and try to do everything we can to turn an ADHD brain into a “normal” one.

The mistake of believe in my label

The problem in all this labelling is that the negativity in the name of these labels affects the labelled person. Labelled people often start believing in their label and all the negativity it implies. I was a great example of this. I used to see my ADHD symptoms as a list of improvements, everything ADHD brains suffer with I had to become great at, to compensate for the existence of the devil inside me. I accepted my label, I agreed I needed to change, or even fix, myself to fit the normal and slowly I started changing, slowly I started to fit and I even felt proud when I was able to live the most normal life anyone can have.

But by believing in my label, in agreeing to change myself into the normal, my self-hate began to arise. The mental war against myself started and continued for too long. I was so afraid that my labels would show that I was in a constant state of stress, due to my endless fight and this prevented me from ever feeling good or be myself. It turned out that living “THE” normal would never be able to make me feel good and instead I should have accepted myself being different.

I’m not saying we shouldn’t use labels, my ADHD diagnosis brought me good things as well, like understanding myself better and receiving medication that does help me to find more peace and to not get completely lost inside my own chaos. But a label should be seen as something that needs to be fixed, living according to a label should be allowed and deviations should be accepted.

Normal isn’t good for anyone

I believe every disorder has more than just bad things, every deviation also has something good, and differences come with great qualities, they make us our unique selves. Every person on this planet is different, label or no label. Often I imagine “normal” people just not being strong enough to be real. I mean, how is it possible that so many different people truly want the same things in life, how is it possible that they function in the same way? I believe it’s not possible, I believe the unlabeled people in this world just believe in normal so much that they never even thought about doing something different, they just follow what is expected of them, without ever trying to find something better.

My sister is the perfect image of normal. She has a big group of friends, every weekend is filled with parties, lunches and dinners that get her many likes on social media. Two times a year she travels far away for a perfect holiday and her evenings are spend with a perfect balance between friends and exercise and her magazine house is alway clean. She is great at normal, but last year she was diagnosed with a burnout. Everything in her busy perfect life became too much and she couldn’t go on anymore. She took a break to recharge, and when she recovered, she continued the life she used to life. Nothing changed because she believes normal is the only way. However, now, about a year late, she is starting to experience the same struggles that have broken her one year ago, and I wonder if she will ever be brave enough to admit that normal might not be it for her, if she will ever be brave enough to break free and do what she truly wants in life.

Trust only yourself

For those of you owning a label of “abnormality” I want to say to never let yourself change completely, to never even try to loose all your differences. Labels are a way of our world trying to organize the unfamiliar, a way to make strange things seem less scary or understand deviations but labels shouldn’t affect you. Your label is one of the many names in a world in which nothing can remain nameless but this name doesn’t define who you are in any way nor does your label mean you are “worse” than normal. Let them label you with whatever they want and remember that this name-calling is just a way of them to coop with their own fear of being utterly normal.

You know who you are, you know what “symptoms” bother you and what deviations you can allow or even enjoy. You are the one that is allowed to define your own normal and you have to do what feels good for you. Never believe in a label or name that is given to you, only believe in what you feel because that is the only real truth.

Further Reading

To read more about my problems with the way we label ADHD brains see the posts below!

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