Bipolar Is Not An Adjective

I forced myself to get up from the computer and take a few breaths prior to writing this, as I was initially fuming inside. I think I can now write without sticking my foot in my mouth (hopefully), and not winding up deleting this post afterward.

So, what triggered my writing this post? Facebook!

Facebook? You Said “No” to Facebook!

I admit, I was always adamant that I was never going to join that site, as I do not do well in such social settings. I saw it as a way to display to circle of loved ones how one another can out-fun each other on a daily basis. “My life is better than your life.” I found that it would be a blatant, in-my-face banner that reminds me every day that “I suck! I’m a loser!” Yet a little over a month ago, I did indeed… well, “suck”. I sucked up my reservations and created an account. My reasons for doing so, was so that I could start connecting with those people in my life who have been there for me through all of this. They are people who I want to be in contact with more than just via email and text. However, before I knew it, I was getting friend requests from family and friends whom I hadn’t seen or talked with in three years.

Found on Digital Trends Website

The sudden influx of loved ones back into my life was anxiety inducing, but I have since adjusted a little more and have gotten calmer. It’s purely family and friends, but it still can be quite the anxiety fest for myself. However, the site continues to throw stress my way, which does not help me at all. I will not go into the boring details here, but one such stressful experience is that since joining, I have gotten messages requesting favors from two male family members on Facebook who I have not talked with in three years. And, to make it worse is that one of those individuals did not even bother to include a “Hey, long time no see”, or “How have you been?” in his message. It was just an immediate jump to the “call me”. I did not call him, but rather messaged him back, trying to be cordial. I explained that I couldn’t call as I’m barely starting to branch out via Facebook. I did not mention anything I’m going through, but I asked him how he was doing. What was his response? Nothing. I never received a response to my message. I guess I was no longer needed, since I was going to be unable to do the favor.

Um… Summer, What Does That Have to Do with This Post?

Sorry, I guess I needed to get that off of my chest.

I am here to write about something that I read today on my news feed. I was going through it, and I saw that one of my family members had commented on a post from one of their friends (someone whom I did not know). I usually ignore those kinds of notifications in the news feed, as I feel that they are none of my business. However, I do get nosey sometimes when something catches my attention. The post was about someone moving back to the state, and a lot of people were posting either happy or sad comments about it (depending on which side of the move they were located). So, I was curious who this person was, since it was a friend of my family member’s. I extended the comments to view all of them, and the first one blaring right at me started off with the following statement: “ 🙂 🙂 😦 😦 I’m feeling bipolar about this…”

I cannot even tell you how much restraint it took for me to not chime in on that open conversation and say, “Bipolar is not an adjective!” I’m glad that I did not, as it would have had negative results for me in multiple ways, but I was so tempted to do so. I do not even know why it got to me as much as it did. I have heard the bipolar term used in such ways before, and it always infuriates me, but I’ve never had such a strong urge to tell the person off. Maybe, it was due to her being friends with a relative. Maybe, I felt connected in that way. Who knows? But, what I do know is that I felt pure anger at this person, not just frustration. I do not know the woman. What I do know, though, is that she is terribly uninformed regarding the subject of bipolar and how hurtful such a comment can be.

In anger, it’s easy for me to look at her and say that she’s ignorant. However, in a much more cooler state – one in which I can think more calmly – I’d rather not use such an unkind term, but rather say it’s pure misguidance and lack of true understanding. She has not taken the time to do any research on what bipolar truly is (as is the case with many people), and in that lack of knowledgeable pursuit, she presents herself as completely misguided. I would hope that others who read her comment see it for the obliviousness that it is, but that’s probably not going to be the case. I know that is a cynical view, but I have heard my own family use bipolar as an adjective. But, I try my best to view people who use the term in such a way as needing to learn more about it, and not as if they are inconsiderate or trying to be hurtful.

However, even while trying to view today’s situation in this way, I still find myself upset that the word has been once again used as if it were just another way to describe one’s day, feelings or actions. NZ Cate has often discussed the need for both respect and acceptance for mental illness on her blog, Infinite Sadness… Or Hope? Just the other day, I commented on this very subject while posting on her blog. It happens way too often, and sadly does not seem to be going away anytime soon.

I guess some may say that this is a pet peeve of mine, as I get quite worked up over the issue. However, it’s more than that. It has in actuality become a passion for me. I think it’s important for those of us in the bipolar community to be passionate about such topics; otherwise they will never be fixed. I’m tired of the misconceptions that bipolar is just another term to be thrown around. It’s hurtful. I have even heard and read people describing their pets as being “bipolar” due to their behavior on a particular day. I’m not saying that animals cannot suffer from forms of mental illness, but you have got to be kidding me that such terms are being used even to describe dogs, cats and other animals just because they are having a not-so-great furry day. How on earth are we supposed to gain acceptance and compassion from people, if this continues? And, sadly it’s not only bipolar that is used in such a way. I’ve often heard Schizophrenia used as an adjective when describing some behaviors of people. “Amy had a fight with her boyfriend last night. So, she’s being all schizo, today.” Really? She’s having a bad day and experiencing the torturous anguish that robs a sufferer from so much of their life?

For Your Information, It’s Harmful

It never ceases to amaze me how hurtful people can be, without even realizing just how much harm they are causing with such remarks. Some may ask, “How is such an innocent comment harmful?” The answer is quite simple… because it’s disrespectful to every human being who suffers from mental illness. In addition, it spreads that wounding unawareness around, making it even more difficult for gaining understanding and compassion from those outside of the mental illness community. I’m not saying that people who do not suffer from mental illness are not in pain at times in their lives. When a person is having a horrible day or mood, he or she definitely deserves – and should allow him or herself – to express those feelings and emotions. It’s healthy to do so. However, that expression can be done without disregarding the seriousness of mental illness.

I don’t ever hear anyone walking around saying, “Oh, he’s being all diabetic today.” “Man, can that guy be any more cancerish?” Why don’t people use those same illness terms in the same way as mental illness? People don’t use diabetic and cancer as adjectives, because they are recognized as true and painful illnesses. If someone was to say one of the above examples, he or she would be seen as beyond disrespectful, and would probably face some looks of repulsion from others. I agree with that repulsion. I do not want to see anyone turning those illnesses into mere descriptions of someone. But, I also do not want to see mental illness used in that way either. Why is mental illness the exception? Why is it acceptable to throw those terms around as if they are not worth anything more than a place in a dictionary?

Bipolar is painful. It can have its wonderful points when we’re in a state of high that feels as if nothing can stop us. However, that also comes with the risk of doing something that can lead to disastrous results. And, I don’t even have to go into the effect that the depression end of the spectrum has on us. To be so high that you feel unstoppable, and then to drop with such intensity that you want to exit this life forever, is not a way to describe having a bad day. It’s a way to describe pain and despair. It’s a way to describe the mental torment with which our minds struggle. It mentally and physically hurts, both inside and out.

Bipolar is not fun!

Bipolar is not cool!

Bipolar is not an excuse!

Bipolar is not an adjective!


12 thoughts on “Bipolar Is Not An Adjective

  1. Love this. But like you hate the disrespect of real people. As you know, it makes me so angry too. But I want to say how impressed I am that you didn’t jump on the comment. It’s always a hard one, do we react or not. Unfortunately the ignorance is such that often we come off worst, so I think you did well. And thanks for the mention. 🙂

    • Thank you! 🙂 Now that the day is over, I’m extremely relieved that I didn’t respond to that comment. You’re so right. It’s not an easy thing to know when or not to react, and I would have indeed been the one who came off looking like I was the worst. I can imagine how I’d be feeling right now. I have enough regrets due to this brain as it is, I don’t need anymore. I’m just so thankful that I was able to restrain myself.

  2. Fantastic discussion. I get so frustrated with the way people use “bipolar” so cavalierly when they clearly have no freaking idea what it really means.

    Also, Facebook is the devil. I had an account for quite awhile but deactivated it about 2 years ago now. One of the best decisions I ever made. My stress levels went down, far fewer incidents of extreme irritability, much less risk of impulsive mistakes in “public”, and so much less distraction that I really, really don’t need. I’m sure it’s fine for some people, but it’s too much for me. Even though I miss many friends and family that I can only contact there, and I am completely out of the loop because now it seems most people only make announcements or contact each other through Facebook, I’m still better off staying far, far away from it.

    • Thank you! 🙂 And yeah, I have a feeling I will have to deactivate mine eventually too, if my stress keeps getting added upon. I knew better than to create an account to begin with, but I had hoped that it could possibly be positive. So far, there have definitely been nice positive things about it. But, those positives seem to get drowned out by the negatives way too often.

  3. Lack of real understanding and education is what I chalk it up to. And, I have fallen into the trap of “Wow that person get’s travel so often, has lot’s of friends in group pics,…” on FB. It’s ridiculous the way I can talk to myself and put myself down.

    • I can’t understand how Facebook can provide such a disconnected connection. I know that’s an oxymoron, but it’s as if the connection itself that the site provides makes us feel so disconnected at times. The trap you fall into is one that I’m constantly trying to avoid, yet always fail to do so. And, like you also point out about yourself, it’s the same thing with me when it comes to putting myself down. I’m the one that allows that information I read to get to me. I wonder if anyone is really happy using FB, or if it’s just no one wants to be left out. To me, it’s so much more negative than positive, yet now I feel so attached due to the people I’m connected with who actually provide positives for me on there, that it’s hard to say goodbye.

      Thank you so much for your interest in my blog. 🙂

  4. Pingback: Left Hanging « My Bipolar Bubble

  5. “Bipolar” IS an adjective. Am I missing something obvious? You seem to be objecting to people using the word “bipolar” as a noun. Bipolar is not a noun. It’s an adjective.

    • Hi there, Cat!

      Thank you for your comment. What you say about bipolar being an adjective is correct. But, I guess I should have been more clear in my post about what I meant. If I recall correctly, when I wrote it over a year ago I was quite upset about the comment I had seen on Facebook. That is where my main commentary on bipolar being an adjective comes from. I should probably write an updated post to clarify that since if you thought this, then probably others have too. I’ll explain what I mean.

      According to the dictionary, yes, bipolar is an adjective. But, what I was referring to, was not the mainstream and technical meaning of bipolar. What I was referring to, rather, was the social usage of the word. The meaning of bipolar in a dictionary is so benign. It sounds like it is just this battle of opposites, if you will. But the real bipolar… the illness that is behind that simple definition, is way more than that. It is pain, distress, chaos, trouble-making, heartache, self-hatred, loneliness, damaging in more ways than one, and can lead to death due to suicide or as a result of an episode. So, when I hear people use the illness of bipolar (such as in that Facebook post), that is when I say do not use it as an adjective. When someone is having a bad day, using the word bipolar is wrong to describe their emotions. Bipolar is an illness and all of the above that I mentioned. Those things are felt. They are more than just a description. The illness is real and can destroy lives, even for those who don’t have the illness, but are loved ones of those who do.

      So, in the end, my saying don’t use bipolar as an adjective is not referring to the dictionary definition of the word. It is referring to the illness and all the destruction that it brings with it. Cancer is an illness and it brings destruction with it too. But, it is unacceptable for someone to say, “Oh Bill is being all cancerish today.” That is downright cruel. Bipolar isn’t understood, just as mental illness as a whole isn’t understood. And using bipolar as a way to describe ones feelings on any particular day, is just as cruel as it is to use Cancer in its place. Sadly though, it’s hard for people to know this, without truly learning about the illness through accurate means.

      Thank you again for your comment!

  6. Pingback: For the Last Time: Mental Illnesses Are Not Adjectives | Let's Queer Things Up!

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