The Umbrella & Why You Don’t Have to Fit Under It!

As with all groups, extremism is a trap anyone may fall into after a certain amount of immersion with like-minded people. Often, extremists don’t realize they have abandoned their true cause and are all operating from the same platform. Hate.

Essentially, they have aligned themselves with other extremists. Full stop. In doing so, they find themselves members of a seperate entity that is inclusive of the very groups they may be railing against. They are united in hate and the furthering of their own agenda above anyone else’s. Thus, narcissists and psychopaths often infiltrate causes for their own gain. The most extreme manifestation of this being cult leaders.

Where am I going with this? Just as it is important to differentiate between “having Bipolar” vs “being Bipolar”, it’s important to maintain your individuality rather than develop a mindset that you must think and advocate like all who have Bipolar. Similar to those who elevate themselves based on being the “sane ones” (I don’t believe anyone is), some of us develop the notion that only those with Bipolar are approachable and start to believe all those without our struggles are bigoted. The initial stages of this include hyper- sensitivity and character assassinations. Furthermore similar divides can be seen between the various diagnoses and believing your’s is the worst, so others are “barely Bipolar“.

The reality: JUST BECAUSE WE SHARE A BASE DIAGNOSIS DOES NOT MEAN WE ALL HAVE TO AGREE WITH EACHOTHER AND/OR BECOME AS JUDGEMENTAL AS SOME OF THOSE AROUND US.

So let’s take a look at a clear divergence of thought amongst our community. This is information for you to extra-polate your own opinion and I have no agenda, although I will state my opinion.

Some required definitions:

Etymology- is the study of the history of words. By extension, the etymology of a word means its origin and development throughout history.

Merriam-Webster states four definitions of Bipolar, for the purposes of this blog I will address two:

  • 1. having or marked by two mutually repellent forces or diametrically opposed natures or views
  • 4. psychology- being, characteristic of, or affected with a bipolar disorder

The general rule of thumb? The first definition listed is the preeminent app-lication of the word. In truth, Bipolar is an adopted word, which mostly gained traction in the 90’s to replace the term manic depressive. This was an attempt to eliminate the association of mania with maniac. Prior to this relabelling, the term Bipolar was most accurately applied to various scientific observations, i.e. a zoological term and electricity. However as with all things, at the time it simultaneously became an adjective used to describe opposing viewpoints.

The designation of Bipolar as a diagnosis was not a stretch, as it is both a scientific label and an identification of conflicting mindsets (so to speak). Although this is accurate, it was still a usurping of the word that continues to have active alternate meanings within society today. Due to this fact the latter part of the definition of etymology does not apply, in so far as the word has not evolved into a singular meaning and the likelihood a scientific term will evolve into this singular definition is low.

Whether you believe people are hypersensitive to the use of Bipolar, whether you don’t care, or if you believe being incensed by the word is justified…well that’s the point. You are entitled to your stance. I, myself, believe the labelling of weather as Bipolar is not inaccurate or offensive because it is the description of a scientific phenomenon.

Guess what? Many disagree including people I associate closely with and who cares? I’m not an extremists, they aren’t either. WE CAN AGREE TO DISAGREE! Also, I don’t mind if the word is used to describe opposing views. This all falls within the parameters of Bipolar as it is defined.

In my opinion, stigma perpetuation includes ascribing all erratic behavior to Bipolar accurately diagnosed or not, indicating someone needs to “up their dose” because someone has deemed them Bipolar, and/or basically when it is used as a characterization of any individual rather than a diagnosis. The latter being kind of a catchall for the misuse of the word.

Since this application misses the mark entirely it is also fair to say using Bipolar to reinforce a negative of any kind is a misuse of the word and contributes to stigma. Yes opposing viewpoints can be labeled as such, but the label is strictly meant to highlight a rift between two parties. It is not meant for the purposes of editorializing and casting a negative light on the conflicting ideals.

  1. YES! It is so important to find people who understand you in life—but that goes for people with AND without your diagnosis. Because not everyone without your diagnosis is going to have a lack of understanding, but contrariwise, not everyone with your diagnosis will understand either. We’re all very complex kaleidoscopes, but that’s what makes us interesting and human.

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