I am Bipolar

CC image courtesy Brocken Inaglory / Wikimedia Commons

I often hear that people like me shouldn’t use the statement “I am bipolar”. The reasoning goes that people don’t say things like “I am cancer” or “I am heart disease” or anything, so it doesn’t make sense to say “I am bipolar”. I can kind of buy that, I guess. But the other part of that argument goes that saying “I am bipolar” reduces your being, your identity, to simply having bipolar. That seems pretty silly.

I say that I am an artist all the time. I say that I am a parent. I say that I am a musician. I say an awful lot about myself, and not a single one of those things that I say that I identify as diminishes any of the others. I can be an artist and a parent. To say otherwise is simply nonsensical. Identifying as something never reduces you to that thing. It just doesn’t.

The thing that I am supposed to say about bipolar is something like “I have bipolar disorder” or “I live with bipolar disorder”. There is absolutely nothing wrong with these statements. I especially like the “live with” one. But I often say, “I am bipolar”. The reason why I say this is that, in my experience, bipolar is not just an illness.

I don’t want to romanticize it, but bipolar isn’t all bad. I can’t say that bipolar has given more than it has taken away in my life, but it has given. Bipolar is a big part of who I am. I am a creative person. I am an empathetic person. I am a nurturing, caring person. Bipolar is partially responsible for those things.

Bipolar is a big part of who I am, for better and for worse. You can self-identify however you like. This is my identity. This is who I am and I am not afraid or ashamed to say it.

I am bipolar.