Thinking Outside the Box?

Thinking Outside the Box?

I can’t even remember where I put the damn box!

Much of our Christmas shopping was, like a lot of people, done online. The downside to this was the mountain of cardboard boxes that we’d built up in the garage. Knowing our recycling bin was going to be emptied soon we decided yesterday to finally attempt to crush them all up to fit them in the bin. As I was doing this, I realised that those of us with chronic illnesses are put into boxes and it’s very difficult to climb out.

To be fair, as humans we love to organise, classify and put things into categories and little neat boxes. It’s human nature. And not always a bad thing. It helps us to simplify things, to order things and make them more manageable to understand.

It helps when those of us who have struggled with pain and fatigue and other symptoms finally get our diagnosis, whatever that may be. It can help us to process what’s going on and gives us the opportunity to learn about our conditions.

On a personal level, I was relieved to get my diagnosis of fibromyalgia after years of pain and being pushed from doctor to doctor. It was something solid, something I could research and get a handle on. It was something. It gave what I was going through a name and an identity. It helped me get the treatment I needed, It helped me get the right medication. It helped me figure things out in my head.

And yet, I can’t help but see the label of fibromyalgia as a hindrance too (I know, I know, I’m being contrary :)). I was given a label and put in a box and sometimes it feels like I’ll never climb out of that box.

A person with fibromyalgia is still a person. A person who, on their good days, has so much more to give! An adult with CFS or ME shouldn’t be written off because they have CFS or ME. We are more than our labels! And also those labels don’t even begin to illustrate how varied and unique and wonderful we are in our own special way. We are people, not labels. And I am not my fibromyalgia!

“Can you remember who you were, before the world told you who you should be?”

As Adam Alter says in his blog post on Psychology Today, Why it’s Dangerous to Label People, whilst “labeling isn’t always a cause for concern, and….(is) often very useful….it’s important to recognize that the people we label as “black,” “white,” “rich,” poor,” smart,” and “simple,” seem blacker, whiter, richer, poorer, smarter, and simpler merely because we’ve labeled them so.”

So, I would say to you, let’s not be afraid to climb out of that box. Don’t be afraid to take that box and jump on it and crush it. Tear it to pieces if you need to. Be who you are, not what the label on your box tells you to be.

And if anyone else tries putting you back in that box? Tell them you are fabulous, and like all fabulous people you don’t fit into that damn box!

I will leave you with an inspirational quote from my all-time favourite writer, Charles Bukowski:

“Can you remember who you were, before the world told you who you should be?”

 

Further Reading:

https://www.psychologytoday.com/gb/blog/alternative-truths/201005/why-its-dangerous-label-people

https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/beautiful-minds/201210/the-pesky-persistence-labels

 

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