Chronicles of one woman’s journey towards well-being: identity part 1

Published date30 March 2020
Date30 March 2020
AuthorJo Mullen
Subject MatterHealth & social care,Mental health,Social inclusion
Chronicles of one womans journey
towards well-being: identity part 1
Jo Mullen
Purpose The purpose of thispaper is to share the experiences and reflections of one woman’sjourney
Design/methodology/approach A narrative approach has beentaken to structure reflections based
on lived experience.
Findings Reflectionsare offered based on a personal journey towards well-being.
Originality/value This paper adds to the accountsof the lived experience of the journey towards well-
being,and as such, contributes to the understandingof the process of rebuilding a life.
Keywords Diagnosis, Intuition, Labels, Antipsychotics
Paper type Viewpoint
In relation to the diagnosis of borderline personality disorder (BPD), I often encounter
the assertion that, “Labels are for jars, not people.” The problem around labelling that
leads to stigma may actually originate in the factthat we do label jars and plenty else
besides. I have noticed that not only do we human beings label absolutely everything, but
my feeling is that we do it because we cannot face not doing it.
Assigning a name to something serves several practical purposes: it allows us to make
a distinction between the thing and ourselves; it helps us to situate the thing within a
context that is meaningful to our own perception of reality; and it provides us with the
false but reassuring sense that we can know this thing precisely because we have
named it. If, however, we choose to dig beneath our need to label, we will surely
uncover a fear that we all share that is, the fear that nothing (no thing) is certain or
permanent. We try to disguise this uncomfortable truth by creating the most elaborate
systems to name, order, classify and define our entire world in an attempt to convince
ourselves that we are safe.
I see two problems with such a rigid structure. The first is that when it comes to human
beings, many names and labels do not just serve to identify a person or group of people,
they are also imbued with a value or judgement either at the time of naming or
subsequently and in our dualistic world, that judgement basically boils down to “good/
normal/healthy” or “bad/abnormal/disordered.” The second problem is closelyrelated to the
first. It has become apparent to me that the people giving out the labels to groups they
judge abnormal do not actually belong to any of those groups. There has been noticeable
tension in recent years from certain sections of the media and the public in response to the
increased visibility and range of identity movements. This leads me to ask if it is not a
fundamental right to have controlover how you regard yourself, how you name yourself and
how you wish to communicate this to theworld? I see many people standing up to claim that
right, in blatant opposition to the trend of people making decisions for or about others
whose experience they know littleor nothing about.
Jo Mullen is based at the
Moray Wellbeing Hub,
Elgin, UK.
DOI 10.1108/MHSI-02-2020-0004 VOL. 24 NO. 2 2020, pp. 111-112, ©Emerald Publishing Limited, ISSN 2042-8308 jMENTAL HEALTH AND SOCIAL INCLUSION jPAGE 111

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