I have bipolar
I have a real problem when people refer to me by saying things like, “She’s bipolar”. This is because, my identity is independent of my diagnosis, and I don’t want bipolar to be used as a description. I work really hard to tell myself that I’m more than my diagnosis, so when someone tries to use it as a term with which to define me, I get upset.
Mental health disorders are virtually the only medical diagnosis that uses the verbiage of “she IS _” instead of “She has_”. Think about it for a minute. How many times have you heard someone say, “She is a broken arm.”? Probably never, because a broken arm is not something that is used to describe someone’s personality. How many times have you heard someone say, “She IS cancer.”? Again, probably not too common. Why is it then, that with mental illness, it is acceptable to say “She IS bipolar.”? Clearly, I would argue, that I am not bipolar, but rather, I have bipolar.
I simply do not believe it is fair to label someone based on their mental function, especially because my bipolar is a medical condition that is out of my control. I would label myself with things that are actually able to describe me. For example, I’m smart, creative, funny, quiet, and quirky. These are words that are acceptable descriptions. Bipolar is such a broad term, which encompasses being depressed, manic, having delusions and hysteria, and sometimes a combination of all of these. Bipolar shouldn’t be used as a one word way to describe someone, because it is so much bigger than that, in the same way that cancer is bigger than just lymphoma. There are multiple types of cancer, different levels of severity, different levels of treatability, and the same things can also be said about bipolar. This is why people don’t say, “She is Cancer.” Cancer is simply too broad of a disease to use as a way of categorizing somebody, and it also varies from person to person.
I feel like by changing the verbiage, and the way we describe people with mental illnesses, it could really have a positive effect on the self-esteem of people inflicted with this brain disease. This would really be helpful because people, like myself, would not have to be bogged down by these false labels that make us feel as though mental illness is a part of our identity, when in reality, it is simply a disease of the mind.