Labeling: Why It’s Not Always A Good Thing

So today I want to write about something that’s really important to me. This post may end up being longer than usual (and I’m sorry for that. I totally understand if you don’t read the whole thing or any of it at all). I want to talk about labeling today.

We all struggle with different things. As many of you know, I struggle with anxiety. When I was younger, I guess you can say I was diagnosed with OCD. While I agree that I probably did have it when I was younger, I don’t think I have that many obsessive compulsive tendencies anymore (only sometimes when I get really anxious). Anyway, my anxiety is just that: anxiety. It’s never really been “labeled” anything other than that (besides the OCD when I was younger).

However, my anxiety has been labeled as a disability, at least in a school setting for college anyway. I HATE that and with all my heart, I don’t believe anxiety is a disability. Why? I don’t think anxiety is a disability because the truth is that, while anxiety often makes me feel otherwise, I can function normally, I can walk normally. I just feel like I can’t sometimes because anxiety is a liar and likes to make us feel like we’re unable to do things.

So, if I’m not disabled, then why was I labeled as that way briefly in college? I was labeled disabled very briefly because I felt that in order to take a math test with minimal anxiety, I should take it in a room that was better equipped to help me feel comfortable. Now, I don’t feel like I should have been labeled this way just because I wanted to feel comfortable and just because I didn’t want to feel riddled with anxiety. However, it was “school policy”. Personally, it didn’t, and still doesn’t, make any sense to me.

The other problem with labels is that people treat you differently. Now get this, the person who helped me get the room to take the math test was considered “disabled” as well but he STILL treated me differently. He looked at me differently and treated me like a child. This was not me being paranoid. My dad witnessed it and agreed with how I felt!

Now I’m not upset with the person who was in charge with helping me get the room to take the math test because he had to label me as disabled. I totally understand that he was just trying to help and follow school policy. However, he didn’t have to treat me like he did and the problem lies with the school policy. A school shouldn’t have to label you as disabled just to help you!

I’m not disabled and I wouldn’t even be telling you guys this story if it wasn’t for the fact that I think school policies should change. Also, I’m writing this to tell everyone that you shouldn’t jump to conclusions about what someone might “have”. I’m not disabled, I’m not “mentally slow”. I have anxiety and while sometimes it may look like something different, it’s anxiety.

Also, if your child is dealing with something and one doctor or therapist diagnoses them with something, or looks at them for five seconds and says, “They have this”, that doesn’t mean that they’re necessarily right. Take the time to really look into these things. It is a person’s health anyway.

 

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36 thoughts on “Labeling: Why It’s Not Always A Good Thing

    • Thanks for reading and being so kind.

      I think instead of always labeling, school officials should listen to their students. For example, if I say “I have severe anxiety and I think taking my test in this room would be better”, they should just accept that and try to help. I also thought a chair with a high back would help if I had to rest my head but they REFUSED to let me bring in my own chair! It was lightweight and I saw no reason why I couldn’t bring it in. If they thought I’d cheat somehow using it, they could have examined it to make sure I didn’t have notes on it or something. I don’t understand why labels need to be involved!

  1. I understand completely where you are coming from on this. I have anxiety, I suffer with anxiety, I deal with anxiety every day, HOWEVER, I am NOT anxiety! I think we all have a hard time with this. I say “all” because those that do not deal with something (medical, mental, whatever it may be) don’t understand how a person can look just fine yet have a problem they deal with every day. Thank you for this post!

    • Thank YOU for reading! I hate mislabeling, there are so many issues that follow! I think another problem is that people may see us when we’re anxious and automatically assume that we’re like this all the time, or that something “deeper” is going on. Sometimes it’s simply anxiety and that’s it. There may be reasons that we’re anxious, but sometimes the only “thing” we have is anxiety. There’s not always some deeper and more “exact” label.

      I think the main reason people label is because they don’t understand something. It’s as if labeling makes it easier for them to comprehend. For example, someone may not understand how something like anxiety can affect someone but if they label it as something that it’s not, that they might be able to “look up”, they may think they understand it better. The problem comes into play when they misdiagnose and treat someone a certain way when that person doesn’t deserve that treatment. I hope that makes sense.

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  3. Hi,

    Thanks for your ‘checking in’ message the other day. Things have been hectic, but another term is wrapped up and in the bag as of yesterday, and I’m thankful for the breather (from school, at least). How are you doing?

    I understand your positions on labels. I think that labels, in general (whether in relation to mental health, physical health, sexual orientation, gender, social status, etc.) can be very detrimental to a person’s sense of…well, personhood. Your post made me think about how people with physical ‘disabilities’ might feel about being labeled as ‘disabled’. I think that, in general, society is organized in very binary terms (most of which boil down to ‘normal/abnormal’) and it would be extremely beneficial if there was more recognition and acceptance of the fact that life is about spectrum, not either/or. That’s my rant and I’m sticking to it.

    I wish you happy holidays / Merry Christmas / all the best – take your pick!

    Take care.

    • Hi Becky! It’s good to hear from you. I’m sorry things have been hectic, but that’s great that another term is wrapped up! 🙂

      I’m doing pretty well, thanks for asking. I’ve been struggling a little with my anxiety, but as always, I’m working on getting better.

      I wish you happy holidays as well and thanks for reading my post and the great comment!

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  5. So, I come to this conclusion when I read uour post: not just the labeling is the problem and maybe could be acceptable, if people wouldn’t treat you differently (worse) because you’re disabled. The labeling is apparently designed to het you help and that should be a good thing, but they hang so much negative things on it. I experience it a lot too, being ‘disabled’. I don’t care about that particular label anymore, but do about how people act about it. Especially when they still don’t help you, but make things harder.
    I understand it’s hard to be labeled like that and treated like that and understand tour point of not being disabled (because physically you can still do a lot of things if your anxiety wouldn’t get in the way). With me it’s different (I als am physically ‘disabled’ besides PTSD) but I hope you’ll be able to ignore those people a little. Sadly, there isn’t a lot we can do, but informing people such as you did with this post is good!

    • Thank you for understanding. I see where labels can be helpful (when labels are correct, they help people be treated if possible, etc. For example, labeling something as Cancer). However, incorrect labels can lead to a lot of issues. Also, whether one is truly “disabled” or not does not give others the right to treat them so poorly. Thanks again for reading my posts and for your wonderfully thoughtful comments!

  6. Inese Poga Art plus Life says:

    I have always been against any labels, would these be because of one’s principles, occupation, main area of expertise, health condition or even food preferences. I’ve also noticed that initially this trend was much more used in North America than Europe. Some people intentionally label themselves and everybody else, but that’s just wrong in my opinion. What matters is the human, would he or she eat vegetarian food, would he or she be belonging to sexual minority and similar. It is emphasized always, especially when somebody has a disease or disorder. Some people actually like waiving with the announcement about their disorder as with a huge flag, so that everybody would right away notice their condition, meaning, that diseases and disorders affect everybody, but they don’t change the fact that one is a human and would love to be treated like that. You should check out my other blog which is secondary and that’s why it doesn’t show when I’m commenting, etc.: http://inesepogalifeschool.com/ This blog deals with different issues and might be inspiring to you. Happy New Year!

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  8. I am a teacher. I definitely think labeling is bad.
    Congratulations on being Danny Ray’s featured blogger. I was his featured blogger too. Maybe you can check out my site if you need a blogging tip or two. That’s what I write about
    Janice

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