Usefulness of mental health labels

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There are certainly times when mental health labels aren’t helpful, such as when they get in the way of proper medical care. However, I’m finding them to be useful when it comes to taking care of myself.

Earlier this year, I was diagnosed with PTSD, something I was in denial of having. With the label formally slapped on me, I started following the PTSD Alliance of Manitoba group on Facebook and I read some of the articles they post. This led me to an article about PTSD and workaholism, which resonated with me. I tend to work, work, work without taking breaks to eat until I completely burn out, and I especially do this when I’m feeling raw. With the knowledge that this habit is so closely tied to my mental health, I now know when I’m feeling like I want to work on a Friday night, what I probably actually need is a calm, quiet night to sort through my thoughts.

Knowing I have PTSD has also led me to finding the right type of help. During my first neurobiofeedback appointment, I told the therapist I was there for my concussion, but I also have an anxiety disorder, acute persistent depression and PTSD. We’ve now had many discussions about all three over the weeks, including her recommending books and letting me know about current studies.

One that was particularly helpful was research that suggests PTSD should be treated with non-verbal therapies. She told me that because the part of the brain that deals with language shuts down during a traumatic experience, survivors often don’t have the words to talk through what happened, so meditation, animal therapy and yoga are much more effective ways to treat PTSD than having conversations.

Sometimes all the labels make me feel overwhelmed and like too much of a mess to ever have hope of a normal life, but in reality the labels are helping me get what I need to take care of myself and be happy.

What’s your relationship with mental health labels like?

 

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2 thoughts on “Usefulness of mental health labels

  1. Eirene

    I have two autoimmune diseases. When I was not diagnosed I did not know what to do. Once they had names I could move forward. Sometimes, however, labels stick to you and people read the label and put you into a box. And that’s when labeling becomes all sorts of confining. So label for my personal use, yes. Labels for others to use on me, rather not. By the way, both autoimmune diseases come with mental health issues. One with depression, the other with anxiety. They are just part of the package.

    • I totally agree. I use my labels well, others don’t use them that well on me.

      Geez! I’m sorry to hear the autoimmune diseases come with mental health issues. I hadn’t realized how many physical health issues have mental health side effects / components. I imagine that adds another layer of difficulty to taking care of health.

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