Why I Say I ‘Suffer’ From Bipolar Disorder


Apparently, you’re not supposed to say someone “suffers” from bipolar disorder. Now, I’ve heard you have to say someone “lives” with bipolar disorder. That’s the new, politically correct rule. Oh yes, because heaven forbid we admit we’re suffering from a disabling illness.

I’ve written about political correct nonsense before — like how we’re not supposed to use the word “crazy.” We’re not supposed to say “we’re bipolar,” we must say “we have bipolar disorder.” There are other word choices I find ridiculous, arbitrary and even stigmatizing; “living with bipolar disorder” is simply the latest one in this raft of silliness.

Because bipolar disorder is a serious illness that harms.

If I’ve said anything at all in the over a thousand articles I’ve written on bipolar disorder, I’ve said this: bipolar disorder is a serious mental illness that harms those who have it. If it didn’t cause harm we wouldn’t call it an illness. If it didn’t cause harm we wouldn’t treat it. It’s that simple.

So when you talk about suffering — I absolutely do it every day. Literally, every day, I suffer with the effects of bipolar disorder. If I’m not resting because I’m exhausted, I’m crying because of depression. If I’m not taking medication because of anxiety, I’m using coping tools because my brain is telling me to overreact. If it’s not headaches from the medication, it’s body aches from the disease. Seriously. Seriously. Seriously. I suffer — badly — every, single day.

And for someone to tell me I’m not allowed to even say that? Well, that’s beyond ridiculous. I’ve said before and I will say again — I’m a writer. I choose the words — not you. I choose the words, not the politically correct police. I choose the words that best fit what I’m trying to say. If you’re offended, so be it. That’s what the comments are for.

Moreover, while I’m a writer and I eschew censorship for me, I also decry it for you as well. You should have the right to express how you feel about this illness any way you choose without people jumping down your throat to tell you that their therapist taught them a new, feel-good phrase. I don’t care about your verbiage. I really don’t. I don’t need wordplay to feel better about myself. I just don’t. And, honestly, I’m sorry if you do. You are worth considerably more than that.

Now, in all fairness to the political correct nonsense, I do bow to this pressure while in politically-charged arenas, as a general rule. But that doesn’t mean I think it’s OK and that doesn’t mean I think it’s fair or right. People with bipolar have the right to determine how they experience this illness. Because, really, if you’ve ever been a girl desperate enough to try to end her life, you really would know what “suffering” with bipolar is truly like and you wouldn’t dare take away someone’s right to express it that way.

And excuse me, but when was the last time you heard someone insist that someone “lives with” cancer? People “suffer from” cancer. No doubt about it. And to place bipolar in a different category? Well, that helps absolutely no one.

“But I live with bipolar!”

Look, if you insist on saying you live with bipolar and don’t want to say you suffer from bipolar, then that’s your right. I promise I will allow you to express yourself the way you choose, but you need to afford me the same right.

To those of you who feel the need to correct me, try, for a change, not policing my words and instead understanding the message. Because if you did, you would know I’m not trying to put down people with bipolar, add to the stigma around bipolar disorder or in any way harm how others view bipolar — in fact, it’s the very opposite.

And if I have to pick between watered-down political correctness and an amazing message? I will pick the latter any day.

Follow this journey on Bipolar Burble.

If you or someone you know needs help, please visit the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. You can also reach the Crisis Text Line by texting “START” to 741-741. Head here for a list of crisis centers around the world.

The Crisis Text Line is looking for volunteers! If you’re interesting in becoming a Crisis Counselor, you can learn more information here.

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