The Importance of Being Labelled

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Labels are important…let me clarify that, well defined labels are important.
We moved house recently, and let me tell you, a box that is labeled with ‘stuff’ or not labeled at all can cause a few problems. We used recycled boxes, so they already had other people’s labels on them and they did not necessarily reflect what I was putting in the box, so they had to be relabelled, but even that was confusing…which label was correct? Consequently, I am now surrounded in boxes with no labels, incorrect labels, misleading labels and those that are precisely labelled and I have no idea where anything is!
I have a bit of a organisational bent…I love having things in precise lines, I alphabetise my books and DVDs and, if I had my way, each box would be labelled, numbered and entered into a spreadsheet that listed all the items in he box, but I live in a family who don’t see things the way I see them.  I like to have specific drawers for specific kitchen utensils, but unless I am prepared to always do the dishes and put them away, my kitchen never stays organised and I get frustrated.  I’m sure my family does it on purpose just so I will tell them to leave it, but I’m on to them!
Although I have a love of labels and lists and like to have specific homes for specific things, I have always hated being labelled myself.  I have had a very varied and eclectic career life from retail to beauty to I.T to graphic design to cafe owner.  I like my options to remain open, there are so many things I want to do and want to experience that being labelled and put in a box grates against me.  I even struggle against the labels of ‘mother’ and ‘wife’, although I love being both of those, I don’t want to be ‘only’ those things.
We live in a society that also rebels against labels, people don’t like to be put in a box and told that this is all they are. It feels somehow restraining to be told you are an A when you may be more than just an A. If we are always told we are an A, we may never discover that we can also be a B.
Despite individuals disliking being labelled, society likes to use labels to help categorise people.  We are all so diverse that it is practically impossible for governments to deal with us on an individual basis, so we have to be lumped into people groups and socioeconomic boxes just so those who are running the country can try to meet our needs. Unfortunately this is not always helpful or particular effective and as much as I hate being labelled, in some cases, we need to be.
Nobody likes to be incorrectly or cruelly labelled. Just like labelling a box with ‘stuff’ doesn’t do it justice, labelling a person as stupid or useless or even fat doesn’t do the person justice. But some labels are vitally important. Food labels, medication labels, poison labels all these are necessary and good. They acknowledge what is inside and warn about potential problems. And imagine if tinned foods didn’t have labels? How many would you have to open to find what you were after?
Just looking at the labelling laws and the legislation that is created to ensure food is labelled correctly goes a long way to proving how important labels are. We all want to know what we are getting, we want it to be clear and truthful and in that way labels are good.
I am a diabetic…it only hit me as I was packing my boxes to move that I am a diabetic. I have type 2 diabetes and for some reason I have not been able to acknowledge that this is a real disease and the implications it will and does have on the length and quality of my life. Maybe it is because it gets beat up on in the media as being self inflicted or a byproduct of obesity, but my inability to label myself as a diabetic has meant that I have not taken it seriously, have not seen myself as someone who is suffering from a potentially life shortening disease and therefore have not been treating myself accordingly.  As much as I hate being labelled, this is an important one.  I need to be labelled as a diabetic so that I can get the treatment and medication I need, I need to be labelled as diabetic so that I can take the steps needed to ensure I live as long and as healthfully as possible. By denying the label I am not doing myself any justice and I am robbing myself and my family.
Acknowledging the label scares me.  By acknowledging myself as a diabetic, I then have a responsibility to take care of myself. Acknowledging the label means being accountable…and that’s a whole other issue.

The Rise and Rise of an Anxiety Attack

 

It hit me from out of the blue and knocked me for a six.  The shortness of breath, the shaking, the tears, the agitation. I’m not a stranger to anxiety, but I really thought I had it under control, I really thought that I would be able to fend off another attack, obviously I thought wrong.

It came on so strong and so sudden that if I had been breathing at the time, it would have taken my breath away.  There was no warning, no preparation.  One minute I was fine, the next I was in a full blown attack.  I had even been having a good day and then “BAM” I was a whimpering, quivering mess.

I hate that feeling, the feeling of being completely out of control of my emotions and my physical reactions.  It is the reason I don’t get drunk.  The very few times I have been under the influence, I hated every minute of it.  I like to have control of my surroundings, or at least, my own mind and body.  But anxiety rips that control away from me and I become completely enslaved by the rioting emotions within me.

My initial reaction was to run away, but I couldn’t leave.  I wanted to hide the attack from my son and my husband because I knew that they would worry about me.  Our lives have been in such turmoil over the last few months and I didn’t want to burden them, especially my son who has had more heartbreak than any 21 year old should have.

There was no where that I could run that would get me out of the situation that I was in.  There was no clear and present danger that my body was responding to, no physically apparent threat that could justify the intense adrenaline reaction that I was having.  Running would have served no purpose, and yet, that is what my body and mind demanded.

I felt in that moment like I was separated from my body.  I could see what was happening to me and the logical, practical side of my brain just looked on in disgust as the emotional, reactive side of my brain turned to mush.  The logical me told me to “snap out of it” and “get control of yourself” while the emotional me was helpless.  Like a deer in headlights, the emotional side of me could not move, could not react rationally.  To that part of my brain, I was in immediate danger and my body’s response was to pump adrenaline into my system so that I could flee.  But you can’t run from what is in your mind, you can’t escape what isn’t really there.

I was helpless in the face of my anxiety.  I could do nothing but let it run its course.  My son held me and told me everything would be ok, my husband tried to fix what was wrong and to put me in a safe space.  And it felt so wrong.  It felt like I was letting them down for being weak minded. They sent me home to bed and I felt so ashamed.  I had allowed this waste of emotion to derail me and it had an effect on not just me but my family as well.

I don’t like this person that I have become.  I don’t like this feeble minded, fear filled, anxiety ridden person. Every day it feels like I am walking on a tightrope across a bottomless canyon and if I sway just a little to far to one side then I will lose my footing and plummet into the abyss below me.  That’s what happened, I fell and I fell hard.  Even today the after affects plague me – there is a slight tremor in my hands, my breaths are short and I feel like there are tears just under the surface waiting for the slightest provocation.  If I even think about the situation that triggered the attack, I know it will hit again. It is a hell of a way to live.

I have spent years on my self improvement.  It was shown to me very early in my twenties that if I wanted to have a happy and fulfilled life, I would need to overcome the baggage that I carried around.  It doesn’t matter how great your upbringing was, everyone of us carries baggage that we need to master.  I have had bouts of depression on and off throughout my teenage years and then more often in my twenties.  I remember one day just wishing that I could feel happiness.  I had a wonderful and supportive husband, two beautiful young boys, a nice house to live in and a job, but I always seemed to have this underlying unhappiness.  It hit me that day that my happiness was something I had to actively pursue, it wasn’t just going to land in my lap.  I knew I had a choice – allow my emotions to rule my life or retrain myself to respond to emotions rationally.  It took years and lots of soul searching, but it made me strong.  Now I feel that I am back at square one.  I am once again a slave to my emotions…and I hate it.

After all the work I’ve done and the hurts I’ve worked through and the setbacks I’ve had, I am once again the weak, emotionally ravaged, victim that I worked so hard to overcome.  I don’t want to be this person, but I seem to be incapable of being anything else.  For years I have been the strong one, the rational one.  I haven’t been perfect, no one is, but I had thought that I had left behind the timid, insecure girl that I once was.  Now I find that she has been hiding away inside of me just waiting to extract her revenge on me.  And at this point, I am defenceless against her attacks.