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Re: Bipolar Spectrum »Toph » Quintal

Posted by Racer on September 6, 2008, at 19:33:56

In reply to Re: Bipolar Spectrum » Toph, posted by Quintal on September 6, 2008, at 13:12:56

> > Don't get me wrong, it's good that people differentiate and accurately classify psychiatric disorders. It just feels like some of the people who share Bipolar disorder with me don't have my disorder at all.

I understand that, although for different reasons. A million or so years ago, I majored in English Literature, and that sort of meaning-creep was always a topic. There are some perfectly good words out there going begging, while a word which should mean something else entirely are doing double duty. The end result is an impoverishment of the language, and difficulties in communication. It's a bete noir of mine, and it applies in this case as well as many others.

> >Anyway, I hate to sound like a Bipolar snob, but somehow my 5 stays in the locked unit of a psych ward has made me kind of sensitive to others using my diagnosis loosely. I wonder if anyone else feels little possesive about their diagnoses as I do.

Actually, I feel a lot possessive about it -- and not only for the reason referred to above.

Depression and anxiety are often used conversationally, which does complicate trying to explain to others why there are periods of time when I can't clean the house, or have to be coaxed to go out to play, or any of the other things that go along with Major Depressive Disorder, or with Generalized Anxiety Disorder.

The Anorexia Nervosa, though, is a whole 'nother story. There are people out there who claim eating disorders as attention getting strategies. Or they make jokes about it -- "Oh, my cat is bulimic..." Or they use it spuriously -- "I'm just not hungry today, maybe I'm coming down with Anorexia," or "I've gained so much weight over the holidays, I wish I could catch Anorexia." Or use it as an insult -- "that b---h is just anorexic -- tell her to go buy a sandwich." All of those trivialize what I've gone through -- and continue to go through. I feel as though the various flavors of misery it's brought me are being discounted entirely, and I've been made a figure of ridicule.

But that's just me, and I'm sure I'm just nuts.

> I feel like I've earned it after years of having my self-reported symptoms invalidated! My psychologist wants me to give up mental illnes as part of my identity. She feels that so long as bipolar disorder defines my identity it will make recovery difficult.

I gotta agree with your psychologist, though. Yes, you've earned your dx -- as I've earned mine, etc -- but I think she's saying something different. In fact, something I say regularly -- bipolar is part of your identity, but does it DEFINE your identity?

Wouldn't you rather be Quintal, a very creative, generous, nurturing, playful -- I don't know you, so I can't tell what works best for you -- who also suffers from bipolar with all the challenges that go along with it?

I don't even know if that makes sense, because I've tried to write this about six times now, but here's an illustration:

My dx includes MDD, GAD, and anorexia nervosa. I also have some physical dx, including severe arthritis in one hip. The pain from my hip is constant, although the intensity can vary; and I've lost range of motion. The depression/anxiety/AN are no less serious and no less chronic than the arthritis, and nor are any of them less variable in intensity, and all of them affect my life on a daily basis. I just don't want to BE any of them. I don't want any one of those to be the defining feature of my identity. I don't want to describe myself first and foremost as mentally ill, any more than I want to refer to myself as primarily an arthritic.

I think your psychologist might be referring to something like that, you know?

OK, I've tried to write this six ways from Sunday, but can't seem to manage. I'm going to send this out and hope that it has some sense in it somewhere... And I hope it helps, and ---

Quintal, I tried to revise that so that you wouldn't think I was trying to criticize you, because I'm not. I am trying to offer something helpful, an alternate way of incorporating the bipolar into your identity, without it becoming your identity. I really do hope that's clear to you, because I enjoy seeing you on here.




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