There’s been a sense of discontentment within in me or a long time and it’s all about the label I’ve had bestowed upon me. Don’t get me wrong, in this case the label is very useful. It gives me an idea of what is going on inside my head so that I have an idea of where the illness begins, how it can be treated and who I actually am.
A few years ago I was reading on social media of a mental health conference where the vast majority of attendees were people with mental health problems of one kind or another. Allegedly, it was widely advertised but I’d never heard anything about it. I wouldn’t have gone anyway for reasons best known to myself but the fact was that there was this conference and the people there were tweeting that they were talking as though they represented me. One of the discussions was about what “we” should call ourselves. I refuse to be labelled a spoonie or any other turn of phrase that labels me in a way I’m not happy about so I certainly wasn’t happy to see people trying to make a decision so that other people could refer to me in a way that was palatable to them.
At the same time it seemed that people with my illness had gone through this process of being labelled as having Bipolar Disorder where we had been talked of as having Manic Depression. Bipolar Disorder is a difficult one for me. It has to be explained, it’s hijacked by people who don’t know what it means to describe normal mood ranges and it has so many variants those of us who do have the label can be as confused as anyone who doesn’t.
Bipolar Disorder has to be explained and often people’s eyes glaze over and you can see them shutting off whilst obviously regretting asking what it is. I don’t think that people necessarily understood the detail when I’d say I had Manic Depression but they seemed to grasp the idea of a mood disorder much better when it was more starkly descriptive.
For some reason today seems to be the day that I want to stand up and bed counted. Call yourself Bipolar if you want to, write Bipolar Disorder on my medical records if you must but I’m happier saying I have Manic Depression. Labels are just labels but it’s my right to choose the language mine is written in.