When I moved to the east, something I noticed was how neurodiversity and mental health were regarded as taboo. If you were labelled, you would be considered as unusual or an odd one out. This never sat well with me and it took me a long time to realise why…
What exactly do we mean by a label?
The definition of a label is a classifying phrase or name applied to a person or thing, especially one that is inaccurate or restrictive.
If I were to think of a life without the label of ADHD, I wouldn’t be getting the help I needed and deserved. I most certainly will also be in the dark about a part of me that makes me who I am!
The fear of a label is certainly valid. A label that you are not neurotypical and that life may be harder for you due to something that sets you apart from others can be hard to grasp, especially at the start. The more I discussed this topic with others, the more I came to realize how it’s not the label itself that brings on the subsequent discrimination, but rather, it is how the label is perceived and used. Ultimately, the way you feel about a given label comes down to how others around react to it.
So many of us have been labelled as this or that throughout our lives. Myself and others alike have been given so many different labels: you are too much, you are not normal, you are useless, you are naughty, etc.
These labels are statements that create a notion that an individual certainly belongs to these certain categories, however, a behavioural challenge does not define someone. Likewise, ADHD is a part of us; it’s not the whole of us and it does not have to define who we are. The label is an answer and a starting point that serves as an explanation to years of incorrect perception. ADHD is a label that is accurate to our lives and how we use it is up to us!
During my teenage years, I was labelled as “a whirlwind, useless, too much, annoying, and very dumb”! And for a long time, I believed these. I internalised the labels and started considering them as a part of who I was! When I was diagnosed with ADHD, it gave me a label that allowed me and others around me to understand who I was and why I did certain things the way I did them. ADHD is a label but it’s just one of many other things that I am. I am also creative, innovative, and imaginative! These are the labels I have given myself and those that truly align with who I am. I’m Indie and that’s my main label!
Before I knew about ADHD, I was a naughty child and in fact, that’s what everyone knew me for. They didn’t see Izzy as the fun, bubbly, and high energy burst of personality. Their focus was on the “naughty”. It didn’t improve much after the diagnosis, even after they learned about my ADHD. Regardless, it enabled me a way to explain my challenges and why I did things in a certain way. Not everyone accepted my ADHD label but that’s ok. I did and that’s all that mattered.
I knew what people used to say behind my back, not that I took much notice. I always felt ashamed to admit to anything that I experienced due to the fear of being seen as inadequate and not masculine enough! However, all of the challenges are only a part of me, and the rest of who I am is awesome. ADHD was a label that meant that I can I finally have an answer to years of internalisation and fears. It wasn’t my fault!
ADHD is a diagnosis and jointly can be a label. Ultimately, it’s an understanding of a huge part of who you are!
Here are my top I’s to taking the labels off and discovering what resonates with you:
Labels can peel off: Yes, we are labelled as so many things especially when challenges are made to be part of who we are. It may take a lot of work and thought process, but remember, these labels can peel off and don’t define you!
Make up your mind: Whether you call ADHD a label and disability a disorder, is up to you! No one can define how you view your ADHD other than yourself!
Understand: When you get labelled for something or if you have an ADHD diagnosis, try and understand the why. Think about the reason, how you feel about it and whether you want it to stick. If not, get rid of it and let others know how you feel about it. If you like the label and find it an accurate representation, own it!
Create positive ones: We are usually labelled with negatives that are to do with social, emotional and behavioural difficulties. But, what about the positive things that make us? For every negative label, you’ve been given, think of 3 positive ones to go with it. This may help over time!
Finally, Remember ADHD is an explanation: ADHD is an explanation for years of challenges and confusion among many other things. This label/diagnosis can be the first step to accepting, understanding, and creating the life you deserve!
Remember, label or no label… ADHD can be an amazing discovery. Everyone will always have their own set of opinions but it’s how you perceive it that will define what it means in your life!
I will leave you will this last thought:
What do you want the ADHD label to mean in your life?
If you are looking for ADHD coaching and support, reach out to us! We are here to help.