I am….

There are rarely two more pregnant words in the English language than these two words.

I am…

I am a husband

I am a dad

I am a small business owner

I am….

and suddenly all sorts of endless possibilities erupt into our thinking.

One that I don’t hear that often is “I am cancer.”

Which is odd because I hear, I am ADD or I am ADDHD or I am BP, or I am Bi-Polar.

Actually, now that I think about it, maybe that’s the odd thing. Maybe it’s odd that people use their diagnosis for their identity. Maybe we need to move away from that in the mental health field.

Maybe someone’s isn’t ADD.

Maybe he just has ADD.

I put this idea up on my Facebook wall a couple of days ago and someone told me that they hate diagnosis and label. The problem with that idea is that labels are necessary. Suppose I walk into my Doctor’s office thinking I have strep throat and he discovers that I have cancer. Well, he hates labels so he doesn’t want to tell me that I have cancer.

That’s not helpful. Labels are necessary so we know what we are treating.

Labels, and by extension diagnosis can be necessary and useful.

But they should never be our identity.

You are more than your diagnosis.

You are more than your symptoms.

You are more than your issues.

The next time you’re tempted to say I am…and end it with a diagnosis, I hope you catch yourself and change add one little word.


Similar Posts


  1. A great reminder to put the person first then the label.
    A women who has ADD vs the ADD women
    A boy who is autistic vs the autistic boy
    This way of order can transcend the mental health areas and can include all labels. Such as:
    The kids who live in low income housing vs the low income kids
    The women who is black vs the black women
    Kids who may be at-risk vs the at-risk kids
    Thanks for your thoughts. Always challenging and assisting us being better people.

  2. Hi Becky,
    Thanks for stopping by and responding. I love your thoughts on this topic. Come back again. 🙂

Comments are closed.