Labels

In times of crisis she calls herself names.

“I’m so stupid,” she’ll say.  Or “I’m crazy.”

But when I offer her a diagnosis – suggest she has an anxiety disorder, say – she rejects it:

“I don’t like labels.”

Puzzling.  What are stupid and crazy if not labels?

It reminds me of something many addicts say when I suggest medication:

“I don’t want to need a pill to make me feel good.”

I hear this regularly from people already dependent on pot, street drugs or alcohol.

How explain this inconsistency?

To some people, accepting a diagnosis or medication feels like a loss of control.

I sympathize.  Nobody likes to feel defined or directed by somebody else.

But resisting diagnosis and treatment usually leaves such people feeling neither freer nor stronger.

Just crappier.

Not more in control, but more helpless.

Another reminder of what I call the First Paradox.

The greater your need to feel in control, the less in control you’re likely to feel.

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