Label Liberation: Finding Power and Purpose

Embracing labels can be a double-edged sword. On one hand, labels can help us find a sense of belonging and understanding within communities that share similar experiences or identities. They can provide a shorthand for communicating aspects of our identity and help foster connections with others who relate to those labels.

On the other hand, labels can also be limiting and reductive. They can oversimplify complex aspects of our identity, leading to stereotypes and misunderstandings. Embracing labels doesn’t mean allowing them to define us entirely; rather, it’s about acknowledging facets of our identity while also recognizing the richness and complexity of who we are beyond those labels.

But since my teenage days, I needed a label. Something to define what was happening to me.

High school marked the beginning—a parade of constant aches, the novelty of bending fingers to touch the top of my hand, and then the sinister entry of arrhythmia and blackouts. My doctors took notice, but the mystery deepened as fatigue and fevers followed sun-drenched days.

Then came the bizarre: a rash morphing into brain inflammation, and Covid’s cruel twist leading to a double pulmonary embolism. Clinic visits, ER trips, and seeing specialists have become routine, earning me the moniker “the wild card” because if something unexpected was to happen, my body was the likely culprit.

Slowly over the last few years — life began to unravel.

It was like battling a perpetual flu. My body, leaden and drained, resisted even the simple act of sitting up. Naps offered no respite; I’d awaken feeling worse, trapped in a realm where exhaustion eclipsed fatigue.

Every day felt like a test of endurance, a struggle against an invisible force sapping my vitality. Doubts gnawed at my sanity; was I imagining these symptoms? Was I losing my grip on reality? Hopelessness crept in, a suffocating fog engulfing my spirit.

Anger simmered beneath the surface, a fiery resentment towards my own body for betraying me. Why couldn’t it function like everyone else’s? Why did it conspire against me, sabotaging every attempt to lead a normal life?

But the true torment? The absence of a name. Until today, when two simple words brought solace to my soul: Autoimmune Disease. It’s ironic, isn’t it? We crave health, not diagnosis. Yet, strangely, relief floods in when clarity finally arrives.

To have multiple autoimmune disorders named could overwhelming, but for me, it’s liberation. The journey to diagnosis has been an odyssey of frustration, a labyrinth navigated by many with autoimmune conditions, like the elusive Ehlers-Danlos syndrome, Raynaud’s, Dysautonomia, & Connective Tissue Disease, masquerading as myriad other maladies. All of these disorders are officially labels for me.

Yet, I’m at peace. Some fear labels will strip away our essence, but if we pivot our perspective, they can be a beacon of understanding, guiding us toward healing and acceptance.

I stand tall in my truth. I’m not just symptoms; I’m a warrior armed with wisdom and resilience. Embracing labels isn’t about confinement; it’s about understanding myself better. It’s finding peace in knowing my health journey. And from that peace, I draw strength to face whatever comes my way.

Labels aren’t limits; they’re signposts on the road to self-discovery. Each one tells a story, adds a layer to who I am. They’re not constraints; they’re invitations to embrace all that I am and all I can be.

Labels are not limitations; they’re signposts on the journey to understanding and acceptance.

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