January 28, 2015 was Bell Let’s Talk Day in Canada. It’s an initiative by a major company to get more people talking about mental health. The intention is to reduce stigma and raise awareness. Bell donated five cents towards mental health programs for every social media share, text, tweet, or call made on that day. It’s growing every year and over $6,000,000 was raised in 2015 from this. Programs like Bell Let’s Talk Day are helping Canadians to become more accepting of mental illness and also reduce the labeling of persons diagnosed with such.
Many, if not most, of us that have been diagnosed with bipolar disorder have felt labelled or been labelled. This could have been from medical professionals, family, friends, co-workers (if they are aware that you have a mental illness), media, or a multitude of other sources. For this first ten years of my bipolar disorder diagnosis I often used this labeling to my benefit.
What do I mean?
For example, when I was feeling lazy I would blame it on my label. When I was being critical and/or judgmental of others I would blame it on my label. When I was eating poorly I would blame it on my label. When I would stay up late watching TV or being on the internet I would blame it on my label. When I would say something harmful to family or friends I would blame it on my label. When I let my house get cluttered and untidy I would blame it on my label. When I would cancel last minute for doing things with others I would blame it on my label. In all of the above examples I would almost always blame myself in my head, not to others out loud. In one way this was good since I was not saying to others statements like “it’s because I’m diagnosed with bipolar disorder”.
However I was saying these statements to myself very often. Essentially my bipolar disorder label was my blanket excuse for nearly everything negative and/or destructive in my life. Can you relate to this?
At this point in time I am doing my best in striving to be a better person than I was yesterday, and not using my bipolar disorder diagnosis label as a crutch. As a consequence I no longer have a victim mentality. I am in control of my life and having a mental illness diagnosis will not define me.