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labelI was in third grade and I still struggled with reading. Every single night my mom and I would climb in her bed with a Judy B. Jones books and I would sputter and stutter my way through page after page in agony. At school that had already labeled me as “slow”. I was in every remedial class there was.

My mother was livid.

Maybe because she knew her child was NOT going to fall behind; maybe she felt like the teachers were not living up to their end of the deal (because Lord knows we were doing hours of work at home.) Or, quite possibly she was just frustrated and didn’t know what to think.

Honestly a lot of it had to do with labels. My mom did NOT want me labeled as anything other than my name “Erin Elizabeth Casey.” Oh, and you better believe she fought tooth and nail to make sure that I wasn’t.

Thankfully (for my mother’s sanity), as a third grader my biggest issue was that I liked to run around in school and I got very easily distracted by my peers. Those things were quickly remedied when my parents began paying me and my siblings for high grades (well let’s just say I liked money more than having fun at school). I quickly became a straight A student, and a very high achiever in general.

But, not everything can be fixed with a bribe.

When later, my depression darkened the rest of my life, no amount of money could have gotten me out of that one. It didn’t work that way. There wasn’t a quick fix. There was not an escape button to push. I suffered severely from depression and that more than anything needed to be acknowledged and treated so that I could get better.

It’s hard to admit the truth though when it’s not what you want it to be. I couldn’t snap out of it. I wasn’t going to grow out of it. I had to admit I was sick and ask for help.

Today we look at mental health as

“I’m messed up and they are not.”
“I’m crazy and they are not.”
“I’m broken and they are not.”

It’s not that black and white. It’s much more like “I’m struggling right now so I need support.” We all have mental health so at different times we all need support in different ways. Understanding that needing and asking for help does not mean you’re in a different category or that you have a label of your forehead.

You can’t be labeled. You are so much more.

My name is Erin and This is Where I Stand.