‘What’s in a Label’ is the second in the BBC Radio 4 series, D For Diagnosis. This episode investigates what diagnostic labels can mean to individuals.
‘In this second programme in the series, Claudia considers the value and the accuracy of diagnoses in mental health. Unlike a broken wrist, diabetes or anaemia, where you can be fairly hopeful that the testing makes the diagnosis watertight, there is not a single x-ray, blood test or biopsy that can give a definitive diagnosis of a mental health problem.’ – D for Diagnosis
What’s in a Label?
In the second episode in the series, I talk about receiving my diagnosis of ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorder). After receiving my diagnosis, I realised that all the things I had previously struggled with (predominantly audio and visual sensory overload) were long-time themes within my art practice. I realised that I had been fighting myself to fit into a ‘normal’ career and adhere to ‘normal’ social conventions. It was at that point I decided to walk away from a career in retail and move into higher education where my ‘deficits’ suddenly felt like strengths.
‘Jane, diagnosed with a developmental condition, Autism Spectrum Disorder, describes how getting a formal diagnosis gave her the knowledge and confidence to change careers and find work in a more supportive environment.’ – D for Diagnosis
For me, a diagnosis was a positive thing but as the program mentions, labels are not always that. Labels create a framework that we, on one level, can easily navigate. We feel as if we can understand them and, by proxy, the person labelled.
The only problem with this, is, that many of us fall between the gaps of this framework. We are not one thing or another. A label may help with understanding someone but it in no way defines them.
I wrote a very brief artist statement in 2013 after I had just finished my Master’s Degree but before my diagnosis.
‘To her, existence is filled with systems of discontinuity. Memories that fade, language that is inadequate and places that continually fracture and reform.’
It was after my diagnosis that I realised that I have always been making artwork about Autism. Now I have a neat label to file it under.
‘The Gaps Between’ is a new series of books, that explore the notion of falling between the gaps of labelled and unlabelled. Lost and found. Sensory awareness and sensory processing.
If you are in the UK you can listen to the BBC Radio 4 program via this link. The episode is available from 19th July 2019
To see more of the Fractured Self series click here.