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The Okayness of Claiming & Rejecting : On Choosing Your Name

Do you want to share a comment, thought, or engage in conversations on The I'm Okay Collective but feel unqualified? Do you have those internal or external messages telling you that you don't have anything worthwhile to add, that you are too messed up to have anything useful to say? Or something like, "I'm not a writer."

Let me dispel a myth right now:

you do not have to be put together in thoughts or words to be or share here.

When I guide others in writing, I say, if you breathe, you have a story to tell. When I advocate for my or another's emotional wellness I say, if you breathe, you have a right to tell your story.

Most of my life is now spent in those intersecting roles of writer and mental health advocate. Because I like imaginative language, I prefer to call myself Emotional Tour Guide, Self-Love Permission-Giver, Feelings Educator, Surveyor of the Land to Acceptance.

The message I want ricocheting across the ethers and into your minds is that you can feel however you are feeling and not have to apologize for it. The act of feeling without apology is an art form. It's not a flaw. It's not a deficit. No one gets to label you without you - first - asking for a name.

Example: You've been to therapists and psychiatrists and they have given you any number of diagnoses: Severe Depression, Generalized Anxiety Disorder, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, Bipolar Affective Disorder, Borderline Personality Disorder, Schizophrenia; there are so many more diagnoses out there.

When I was a teenager suffering in ways I could not put a name or understanding to, the labels placed upon me by doctors and the psychological community felt like a godsend. I was validated. I was named. I could put words (from the DSM) to my experience.

Many psychiatric inpatient stays and 35+ years of therapy later, I have now shifted my perception of my mental health, what I like to call, instead, my "emotional wellness." I no longer embrace those diagnostic labels because they make me feel isolated, separate from a "healthy" world, and ashamed of my deep feelings. I felt pushed and squeezed more and more into a box that felt uncomfortable for me but seemed to provide comfort and satisfaction for those who felt uncomfortable around my emotional depth.

I began rethinking the many names that had been placed on me:

Too much, Too sensitive, Too emotional.

Hypersensitive, overly sensitive, and the much hated "attention-getter."

What if my deep emotions were a gift I could claim and what if I could shift from a deficit-based mindset to an affirming, compassionate, inclusive one? More on that later.

This shift in thinking isn't for everyone nor am I trying to "preach" this message with force. I know many people who have found deep meaning and even freedom in their diagnoses. I am eager to have those conversations as well, even though I do not share that perspective. A friend of mine who finds value in her diagnoses has agreed to be a guest here on the I'm Okay Collective blog so I look forward to sharing our conversation soon.

In conclusion, you have a choice in whether you find meaning and value in the labels or diagnoses you receive. You can choose who names you and what you are named.

It is a deep honor to be named, particularly when you have the choice to receive it. You can have these psychiatric diagnoses and also not take these diagnoses onto your person. They can be accessories you choose or don't choose to take on.

So what is your experience of naming others or naming yourself? Hop on over to our forum where I hope questions like that and others will inspire you to share your experience.

You who are my friend because we share this human experience. You who are important because you breathe and get to tell your story if you want.

And you are so, so welcome here.

May you consider the power of naming.

May you claim your naming in whatever way you choose.

In Okayness,


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