Do you say, “I’m Bipolar” or “I have Bipolar Disorder”? If someone asked you to write a description of yourself that only you would see, would an illness make it to the top parts of your description? Do you think of yourself as “living with” an illness or “having” an illness? People answer these questions in different ways and as long as it works for the individual, I don’t think there is a wrong way think about it.
Despite there being no wrong answer, there is a more popular answer. I often see people quickly correcting and defending against those who say they are bipolar. I get this, it is important to know that you are a person who has an illness, but you are not that illness. Someone isn’t diabetes, they have it. It can be important for many peoples recovery to be able to separate their identity from their diagnosis.
For me, personally, I fall on a different side of this. I am bipolar just as much as I am a vegetarian. The only difference is one was forced on me by my brain chemistry and the other is a choice. Both play a large role in my lifestyle. Because of my mental illness I have to account for ups and downs, I incorporate healthy activities into my life in an effort to maintain or create a healthy mindset. The way I think about things is absolutely affected by being bipolar. I am able to enjoy simple things when I am feeling well because I have experienced so much mental instability. I have a great capacity to empathize with others due to knowing what emotional pain can be.
I am as bipolar as I am a wife. I go to my mental health appointments, often two a week, and I also go on dates with my husband. I have this blog because I have my diagnoses, and I have my nights cooking with my husband because I am married. The difference is that bipolar is not something I want, and my husband absolutely is.
I don’t want to be bipolar. I don’t want to be an alcoholic. But I am not ashamed of being either and for better or worse both have played a huge role in who I am. That is why I say I’m bipolar.