I Am Not My Diagnosis

Trigger warning: mental illness, depression, eating disorders

The morning light glows softly through the blinds. As the filtered light dances across the dust in the air, I take my first conscious breath. I feel the stardust still pulsing through my veins and my heart begins to race.

Unbrushed teeth, messy hair, and last night’s makeup—the mirror reveals the signs of a night where the weight of my world was too heavy to carry. I neglect the toothbrush, the hair comb, and the face cloth once more. Instead, I layer on more makeup and smile for the reflection. I pick up my twice-worn clothes from the floor, dress, and stumble out the door to a world that doesn’t know the secrets I keep.

But those secrets reveal themselves through the volatile emotions I project each and every day and the raw, unfiltered way I engage with those around me. You used to call me crazy for it. But now my crazy has a label. It’s validated. It’s justified.

Now you understand why there are days when I feel I have conquered the world, and there are days I wish I could leave it. Now you understand there are moments when the sky was the limit and moments when I long for six feet under. You know there are happy moments, anxious moments, depressed moments, and nothing moments. You know there are days when I cry until I laugh, laugh until I cry, and then cry until I laugh all over again. And you finally accept that I might need help to navigate that wide diversity of times when I’m having a moment.

Maybe you realize there are moments when food is my enemy and my strength is found in starving the demons from my body, and the only way to know they’re gone is measured by numbers on a scale. And now you understand why there are moments when I’m so dependent on another that I push them away until my only choice is to be independent—no more late night phone calls begging for help, no more early morning texts justifying my actions, just my inner monologue. And now you know those are moments when you shouldn’t walk away.

These are the moments that don’t make sense to the world, the moments that never made sense to you. You think these are the moments a diagnosis seeks to define. You think my diagnosis is a prescription label to tell the world how take me during these moments. You think my diagnosis is a textbook diagram to teach you how to offer me support.

But my diagnosis is not for you, and I am not my diagnosis. What is in my heart can’t be defined by a prescription label and what is in my soul can’t be explained by a textbook. But, if you had loved me, you would have already known that. You would have sought to understand before I had a label.

But you need a label to tell you which struggle is worthy and which is not. And, as angry as I am about that, the irony is so did I. Earning that label taught me the value in asking for help, wearing that label taught me that emotional struggles are human, and talking about that label reminded me I wasn’t alone.

I am not my diagnosis, and my diagnosis is not for you. It is not a badge to remind others that I am lovable because the ones I need already know. It is a badge to remind me I am worthy of their love. TC mark

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