Why I Say I have bipolar and I am bipolar

Why I Say ‘I Have Bipolar’ and ‘I Am Bipolar’

Bipolar disorder doesn’t define me, and I’m my own person without having to label myself with the diagnosis. But for me, saying “I am bipolar” is just as freeing and empowering as saying “I have bipolar.” If I were so concerned that saying “I am bipolar,” would mislead people, I would question using the expression. However, I am identifying with the disorder because it is such a part of me. If I live life with bipolar why shouldn’t I identify with the diagnosis? Diabetics have diabetes, just like they are diabetic.

I want to normalize it, not isolate the term and definition just so I can feel better about myself and not be “attached” to the illness. It is not to degrade, condemn, or “label” anyone. It’s simply putting it in terms of the illness and owning it. I have it and I am it – it’s as simple as that. When I say I’m bipolar, I am addressing the illness because it lives in me! It does not own me, but it begets the symptoms and characteristics of bipolar disorder, therefore I am characteristic of that disorder. I am bipolar.

What do you think? Should it matter how we phrase our diagnosis as bipolars? To that point, should we call ourselves “bipolars,” and make it a noun, to be one?




14 thoughts on “Why I Say ‘I Have Bipolar’ and ‘I Am Bipolar’

  1. kimberlyf says:

    I’m okay with it as a noun when someone has reached acceptance. I think it’s such a difficult and stigmatizing label at first, that people can stigmatize themselves and view themselves through the lens of being “only” Bipolar and nothing else. As if they have suddenly been taken over.

    I agree with you that it has to change.

    My objection in the use of Bipolar is as an adjective to describe things other than a medical condition such as the weather, an ex partner who is not mentally ill, a malfunctioning vehicle, etc. In those cases, I stand up loudly.

    I like your post. Thanks.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Katie R. Dale says:

      Kimberly, great point! I like your thinking – it is stigmatizing at first, and it’s as if they’ve been taken over. Love that explanation! And yes, it’s a bit more unacceptable to call something or someone without the disorder, “bipolar”. But in my case, I’m bipolar. What of it? Eh? 😉

      Liked by 1 person

      • kimberlyf says:

        I am also bipolar. I have no issue with it being used to describe me lol. It’s accurate. I just don’t love the weather or other things people don’t like being lumped in lol.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Kathryne says:

    Katie, I’m all about owning our actions and taking responsibility, but from a purely spiritual perspective, I believe that our words have powerful creative potential. To be made in the image of One who created a vast universe with simply His words … places that same potential within us if we choose to believe and apply it (Proverbs 18:21). Personally, I would not speak death or disease over myself, but rather, I choose to speak life. For example, an undisciplined mind is filled w/worries, fears and distorted perceptions that trigger degenerative processes (illness) in the mind and body.We cannot afford to NOT bring all our thoughts and words into captivity to Christ (2 Corin 10:5).
    I am addressing your diagnosis, or its origins, merely stating what I believe as Biblical truth that I have experienced personally. However, since you asked … If it were me, I would choose to describe myself as a former bipolar patient, one who is overcoming symptoms through medication and by faith in God’s word. I would not align my words signifying acceptance of the permanence of any condition other than health. But that’s just me. Love you, girl!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Katie R. Dale says:

      Kate, thanks for your feedback. Since I don’t equate identifying with the form of illness I have with speaking death or disease over myself (not that I’m going to get rid of it anyway lol), I do see what you’re saying. The thought that I could speak healing over my mind was a tricky theology I have also had to deal with, but I am glad for you sharing your opinion. It does add good, critical thought to the conversation – one of the many things I like about you. Love you my friend!


  3. ckj261281 says:

    I believe Bipolar is such an intrinsic part or layers of complexity within you, it’s very hard to separate as something that’s there. It’s kinda made us along with nature and nurture who we are – I say we’re awesome x

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Helen Vaughan says:

    I intentionally say I have bipolar. Given its physical basis, it really is a condition that should be related to as a condiion rather than a subject or identity. People who have cancer don’t say I am cancer, even though it has a big impact on their lives. It is something they are dealing with. Just like bipolar is something I am dealing with and managing.


    • Katie R. Dale says:

      I’m using the term bipolar as an adjective, but you saying you have it does sound like a more detached way of identifying it is in you. Like you have a cold, you have a condition. I think in the end it’s more semantics than anything, but you have a reasonable point, Helen. Thanks for your thoughts!


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