Wednesday, Jan 19, 2022

Guest Post: Bipolar is Not an Insult. It's a Medical Condition by Marisa Feliciano

Language matters.We hear people refer to the weather as bipolar.  We hear people call their toddler’s tantrums bipolar. We hear people joke that..


Language matters.

We hear people refer to the weather as bipolar.  We hear people call their toddler’s tantrums bipolar. We hear people joke that their unreliable cars are bipolar. I get it, no one is perfect, and I highly doubt the people using that language are trying to be hurtful. Unfortunately, what I hear most frequently is people using the word “bipolar” as a way to put someone down and for me, that STINGS.  

“He can’t make up his mind, he’s so bipolar.”

“My ex was totally crazy. I’m sure she was bipolar.”

“Nobody trusts you because you act so bipolar.”

“Oh great, are you one of those bipolar Spanish girls?”

We see the misuse of “bipolar” over and over again as a reaction to someone sharing a strong emotion or an unpopular opinion, especially with women of color. “Bipolar” has become synonymous with unstable, crazy, angry, and unpredictable. Unfortunately, those exact stereotypes are issues that many women of color work to dispel every day, completely apart from living with a mental illness or not. We know that across cultures, calling someone “bipolar” is used as a way to hurt or malign someone. When we weaponize the word “bipolar” we are insulting the millions of people that live with the disorder and suggesting that having bipolar disorder is a character flaw. For me, considering I have almost lost my life to this illness many times, trivializing the disease is not only hurtful but dangerous. Using any mental illness as an insult is dangerous. 

Bipolar disorder is a complex brain disorder that looks different for everyone. Let’s try to stay away from unkindly diagnosing other people. I encourage you all to gently correct people when you hear this type of stigmatizing language. Make it a teaching moment. Language frames not only how the public perceives mental illness, but also how people living with mental illness perceive themselves. Some of us wrestle with shame for years after we are diagnosed. Using harmful language perpetuates negative stereotypes, adds to the stigma, contributes to discrimination, and most importantly, discourages people from seeking treatment. I will say it again, language matters.

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By: Bipolar Bandit (Michelle Clark)
Title: Guest Post: Bipolar Is Not An Insult, It’s A Medical Condition by By Marisa Feliciano
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Published Date: Fri, 20 Aug 2021 02:39:48 +0000