Why I Choose to Say ‘I Am Bipolar’

One of the major discussions in the mental health community is how to refer to your diagnosis. Some people say you should always say you have the condition; not that you are the diagnosis. The common rationale for that is that your illness shouldn’t define you. It isn’t who you are. People point out that no one says “I am cancer,” or “I am diabetes.”

But I say I am bipolar because my diagnosis helps define me. To be honest, it is a huge part of who I am. While I was first diagnosed in my early 30s, I’ve looked back and can see I started having my symptoms in puberty.

Most of my formative years happened while I was mentally ill. My bipolar disorder helped shape all of the facets of my life. In high school, the waves of mania and depression affected not just my emotions but also my sense of self-worth, my ability to make and keep friends, my sexuality and my reputation.

Now that I have been diagnosed and I am successfully managing my condition, I am stronger, more confident and more at peace. My bipolar is providing me with opportunities that I might have never had if I didn’t have it. I have become an advocate for people with mental health conditions through my writings, speeches and volunteer work.

I think my mental illness is so integral to who I am that the Daria who is wouldn’t exist without my bipolar.

So I am Daria and I’m bipolar.

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