Ahh labels. They’re meant to be stuck on and then peeled off, right? When they’re on boxes or bottles, apples or oranges, they’re little more than an inconvenience. But placed on people and their physical/mental maladies and suddenly they’re not so easily shed. Mental illness, for example, despite its increased prevalence in pop culture, is still very much a label people disdain.
I’ve been working like mad(pun absolutely intended) to manage and overcome my preliminary diagnosis. Reviewing the basic list of symptoms, I can conclude the label doesn’t fit quite like it used to. In fact, the only symptom, often called the trademark of folks struggling with my condition, that somewhat still applies would be “frantic efforts to avoid real or imagined abandonment.” And the words “frantic efforts” would best be replaced by “heightened anxiety or worry.” Because I have a new label now: first time mom.
This morning, I panicked. My daughter hasn’t been very active this weekend, probably lulled into a food coma by the feast we had at my cousin’s last night or the cold weather or her dad’s usual departure to Vallejo/Concord. Combine that with a couple of painful cramps and some other discomforts and I was weeping on the phone with the hospital. One large glass of water and 90 minutes later, I have decided to not visit Labor and Delivery and continue to treasure the weeks before my baby’s arrival. I wouldn’t call this morning’s nervousness a borderline moment. But yes, if there’s anyone I hope stays with me, it’s my daughter. And that has nothing do with personality dysfunctions.
So as my therapist has recommended, I cling less and less tightly to my perception of myself as someone with mental illness and move gradually to accepting myself as a grown woman as my child’s mother.