By Shelly Sarkar
Mental illness is as fun as a bucket full of angry panda bears sometimes. People have tried to diagnose me, OCD, ADHD, PTSD, dissociative disorder, bipolar disorder, schizoaffective disorder, schizophrenia, anger; normal stuff.
I really do believe that in some cases mental illness stems from compounded trauma. I still remember a naturopathic doctor asking me, when I was 28, what happened to me when I was 12. I have tried everything over the years. Thomas Edison would be slapping me on the back saying, “Great 1021th try!”
I have a lot of wisdom regarding mental health, but I’m still learning. I agree, diagnoses and a label sometimes brings comfort — someone has had this before, I’m not the only one, this is normal. It’s written in the DSM-5. You can youtube this and find Dr. Phil consoling someone with a cranberry muffin. It normalizes an ambiguous topic. Someone has had this before, — it’s in history.
But I notice that one label might not define everything a person is dealing with and it might not be as chronic, but more situational and environmental. It might not be as permanent. The one thing that I have been told many times over the years is not to let a label define me; self love, self-forgiveness.
My disorder became my identity. No longer was I a person, who had this disorder, I WAS this disorder. You end up losing yourself in your illnesses and unable to out who you were before the illnesses becomes a new challenge. I forgot who I was growing up — seeing friends I haven’t seen in 10 years really triggers memories of a good person — someone who was fun-loving, ate meatballs, was funny and outgoing. I’m beginning to realize that loving yourself, in all the ways you were and are today, is the way to go.