The moment you get ill and your labels fall from around you is part of the loss of illness. When one minute you're a fun loving, party going, there for everyone and dependable kind of girl to suddenly a woman who barely goes anywhere, has to take numerous days or even weeks off sick and feels like your a burden to the rest of your family and friends.
I've been there, the moment when the labels fall off....what are you then? Initially this feels like a negative backwards process, a loss, a grief, but looking backwards and seeing this for myself the labels falling away ultimately was a good thing, it meant that I no longer could be anything but my truth. I couldn't put on a false smile and dance out of the door because everyone else was doing it, or drink 4 redbulls to keep me partying all night, it meant that I couldn't work my ass into the ground for everyone else even when I knew I didn't want to.
I had to find the new me, but that new me wasn't really new at all, it was the real me underneath the bullshit of fitting in with the rest of the world.
Labels are just things we use to define ourselves in the world, 'the introvert', 'the extrovert', 'the sensitive one' and in yoga there's a thing called practicing non-attachment. This is huge in labelling because as soon as we attach ourselves to a label we risk our worlds crashing down. We risk the fear of what am I without this label.
When we attach to a label we restrict change, even if we hold ourselves to the label of our jobs we risk not being able to try something new, if we hold ourselves to the label of our weight we risk not allowing our bodies to change, if we hold ourselves to the label of our health we risk not being fluid with the ever changing world of our bodies.
The labels initially fell off for me when I was 19, but as my illness took hold new labels came in, I was the girl with ME, I was the ill one, I was doing this despite my illness, all these new labels I hung around my neck initially gave me belonging, it allowed me to seek tribes out that were similar, but very quickly I realised these labels were holding me back from healing. From shifting and manoeuvring as my illness changed and morphed.
Its hard not to hang labels on yourself, I find myself doing it most days, but I have to constantly ask myself, are these labels going to hold me back, when you stop attaching yourself to the labels and you realise they only explain you in a brief moment in time, that they are normally even explaining your past, as your present is constantly changing you realise that labels are worthless.
Currently I'm struggling to define myself in this world, labels don't seem to fit, and this is teaching me even more that labels are an old way of living in the new world. We are tapestries of a million different threads, all woven into one beautiful silk that makes us who we are, we can't label ourselves by just one of those threads, and on each day the thread that shines the most will change as the light hits a different part of the tapestry, if we only focus on one of the threads we risk only seeing a tiny percentage of the human we can be.
So think about the labels you give yourself, the hashtags you place under your name, the stories you tell about yourself, and ask who are you below the labels, if you think of yourself as a spoonie, what does that do to your story about your own health? What does that say about your healing journey? If you think of yourself as an extrovert, does that allow you to be chilled and quiet or do you feel the need to be ON all of the time, if you see yourself as reliable, dependable does that allow you to say no to things, to cancel when you're feeling ill or do you uphold everything just because you don't want to be seen as flakey, if you're a certain job title does that stop you from exploring another job, if you're a money earner, does that stop you from taking a year out and going travelling, keep asking, keep enquiring. Labels ultimately help you to fit into boxes, but humans aren't boxes, humans are beautiful fluid beings filled with light and energy, and that cannot be stuffed into a box.