Post 29 – Labels

This post is a follow up to last week’s post. While I am still waiting for the amazing moment and hyperactivity period to kick in the low mood is lightening a little. The response to last week’s post helped and one suggestion in particular lead to the thinking for this post, around how we use and are even used by labels.

There was also a lot of good feedback to what I thought was a silly thing I made up, a blog trailer based on Star Wars opening credits. But I realise that it’s those fun, creative moments which make me smile and are therefore important to me. So the Star Wars trailer thing is likely to continue each week.

The disconnect I talked about last week is with work as a place/thing to do, not the people. Social media has negatives, but it has many positives, the most obvious but important being the ability to keep in touch with people. I am still very much connected to friends through various mediums.

Connections are important, whatever the state of your health and as I have written about previously, I now have many connections with people I have not met. I think the blog has reached a point where the majority of readers are strangers.

But are they ? They are strangers as I have never met them in person and some readers may find it odd, to be writing about personal things which are then public. So far my experience has reinforced the belief that by talking or writing, then understanding can grow. Many of those connections I feel I have got to know, simply through the blog and social media.

Some are mental health professionals, whose support and engagement never ceases to surprise me. (Quick aside,the third thing I love about therapists, after their skill of answering a question with a question and their love of conference selfies – they understand sci-fi jokes/references. #StarWarsintherapy will trend at some point in the future).

Many others are people also struggling with their mental health and one of the best things is how much you support each other. There is a connection there of understanding and empathy. It’s one of the reasons I love the Blurt Foundation, they have a fantastic way to connect and make you feel understood. Plus they are they only people who have ever called me “Twinkletoes”, a label which never ceases to make me smile. (Context – it’s something they do for all , not just me!)

So why the title of labels? Well I have used some already – strangers, mental health professionals, readers…ahem, Twinkletoes.It’s human nature to use labels, if we didn’t we wouldn’t be able to communicate concepts and ideas, the very thing which has allowed us to become the dominant species on earth. Let’s face it, we all have many labels – I can be dad, son, husband, friend, stranger, patient, neighbour, he-who-does-my-bidding (that’s from the dog). I can be different depending on the context but underneath all those labels there is a set of values that are important to me.

But there is a downside to labels. They often provide preconceptions and assumptions. How many when reading mental health professionals picture someone in a white coat? When I used the word strangers what did that mean to you, a sense of caution and even danger?

Behind every label , whether it’s friend or stranger, therapist or reader is a person. Simply and wonderfully a person. Nothing more, nothing less.

Last week I shared my discomfort when asked what I did for a living. Someone suggested, in what is becoming a long list of wisdom they have passed on, that if I felt I had to label the current period, why not say I am doing something artistic, given I am writing and occasionally (in my own way) painting. That feels both wrong and yet right. It feels wrong as if you met someone and they said “I am a writer”, what does that bring to mind ? I would picture someone who has published books and is well known . Which is an assumption from the label ‘writer’ and a false one. Given that each year there is something like 2 million books published how many of those can we name?

And if someone said they were a writer it’s possible that the next question is – “What have you written?”. To which I hope I would be able to talk a little about this blog and why it’s written, as it means a lot to me.

I also thought “well I don’t get paid for writing, so it’s not a job”. No it’s not paid employment…but it’s what I enjoy doing and if it helps to provide understanding of depression, if it helps someone else and if it helps me, then isn’t that more important than it being a job?

“no work is ever too small to not matter.even if your work only reaches one person, that person is urself, and that makes it worth it” – Jomny Sun.

So yes, I am a writer. And thanks for being a reader, it’s very much appreciated.



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