Fighting for the right to live without labels

It seems we all want to label things. It helps to categorise thoughts, feelings and actions. It helps people feel organised, orderly and complete. It helps outsiders know what to expect. It helps to form judgements and opinions, sometimes before the whole picture is revealed. Labels and pigeon holes make a person see another person in a certain way and it breeds misconceptions that can hurt, damage or confuse. I know, I’ve bought into stigmas in the past.

What do we really think about mental illness? In particular, what do we really think about depression? Its a condition that has affected people close to me but something that I’m not sure I will ever really understand or feel comfortable talking about in terms of ME.
I totally rejected my GP’s diagnosis of PND when my son was eight months old and I stand by that belief today. I didn’t want to be labelled that way, for many reasons. Firstly, I didn’t feel that it was true. I went to my doctor asking for help in dealing with my feelings after my son’s birth and I was dismissed. I was told that I couldn’t control my womb and so therefore feeling upset about the birth was ridiculous. If he’d read my notes, he’d have known that my womb had nothing to do with what went wrong. Instead, he wanted me to take some tablets and put myself into a box with a nice rounded diagnosis.
I don’t want PND. I don’t want it for many reasons and I might admit to those reasons one day. I don’t want any diagnosis but I do want to work though my feelings without tablets. I’m worried that I perhaps view depression as something to be ashamed of; my GP certainly made me feel ashamed tht day. Is that why I felt the need to fight his diagnosis? Why I asked those close to me whether they thought that I was depressed? Why I obsessed about whether or not I was depressed and why I wanted so badly not to be? It still bothers me now that the letters P. N. D are anywhere near my medical records.

If I accept the diagnosis, I accept that there is a chemical in-balance in my brain which I cannot control. That, I understand. If I accept the diagnosis, I am labelling myself and leaving myself open to judgement and criticism. If I accept the diagnosis, I am forcing people to se me differently and to make different decisions about my future.

For the record, my GP no longer believes that I am suffering from PND, or that I ever was. I’ve been given another label that helps me to allocate blame elsewhere, away from me a bit. The question still remains, though- why does depression cary such weighty pre-conceptions and stigma? Why did my GP make feel ashamed: is this his problem, or mine?

His, I hope. I know that depression is nothing to be ashamed of and I hate that I felt that way but I guess that had more to do with my feelings of failure after his birth than any real misconceptions about depression itself. In the meantime, I continue to exist with only a few labels and I hope I ca keep it that way.


6 responses to “Fighting for the right to live without labels

  • The Mad House

    I truly believe that there is nothing wrong with the label PND, or depression at all. I hate the feeling that people are ashamed to admit to not feeling happy or that mental health comes with such stigma attached. I have suffered with depression, both before and after the birth of my children. Should I be ashamed? I don’t think so. With the right treatment (for me that was medication and CBT) I have found that there is light at the end of the tunnel and the same can be said for many people.

    It is important to get the correct diagnosis, so that you can have the right treatment and mental illness, is an illness just as much as cancer is.

    • ghostwritermummy

      Hi thanks for your comment. I also believe there is nothign wrong with PND but I never felt comfortable with the diagnosis. I’m not sure if it is me or the way the gp made me feel. He certainly made me feel that it was something to be ashamed of and it took me another 8 monts to go back again.

  • Crystal Jigsaw

    I would say it was very much his problem; what did he know anyway? Has he ever given birth and had those feelings? NO!

    GP’s really hack me off at times with their constant search for a “label”. WE are people, human beings with feelings and we deserve to treated with respect. Having a label to define who we are doesn’t make us different from society but it does make us feel different.

    Take care, CJ xx

  • Mummy Beadzoid

    Funnily enough I was going to write my own post on this over the next couple of days as a current sufferer who’s received a variety of different reactions. Maybe I still will, but in regards to whether it’s your problem or your GP’s – I’d hazard a guess at both perhaps? And I mean that with the utmost respect. You’re an incredibly strong woman who perhaps maybe would see it as a sign of weakness in yourself? In our profession it’s certainly looked down on, it makes people think you just can’t cope at work, and I know damned well I’ll be copping it with a few people in that respect as I haven’ been there for a good few months now. It’s hard enough to not see depression as a sign of self-weakness, even if you accept it in others, but when someone like a GP, employer, family member or whoever speaks without tact or regard then it reinforces that view. Personally I don’t give a hoot about being labelled, I just hate that I am having to admit that I can’t always cope. I see it as weakness in myself but not others. Funny that…xXx

    • Oh Mammy

      Erm…I was also about to write the same post too! When I went to the GP in a id to be proactive about my blues, I got the same thing. I didn’t want to be medicated and so they washed their hands of me. I haven’t uttered anything about it on my blog and no one knows. While I should know better than anyone about stigma and perceptions yet I cannot escape the fact I view it as weakness. It’s something chemical that I can’t control and has no relation to any environmental factors at all. My life is perfect, I have everything that I want and yet I am so desperately sad, angry and frustrated constantly. And it’s starting to show on my blog as well as in real life.

      Well done for writing such a brave post and you’re right to avoid being labelled.

      Much love. xx

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