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For the Last Time: Mental Illnesses Are Not Adjectives

Ugh. I know I’ve ranted about this before, and I’ll likely do it again. Being tidy and deriving enjoyment out of deep cleaning or organizing is not “OCD”. Having unpredictable mood swings is not “bipolar” (unless these “mood swings” cause you to engage in harmful behavior or rob your ability to function). Being in mourning after a loved one dies or one learns of a terminal illness isn’t the same as Major Depressive Disorder. And really, really wishing you had seven imaginary friends, including your first D&D character and someone from Harry Potter, doesn’t give you Dissociative Identity Disorder.

What separates people who experience average emotional peaks and valleys and those who are mentally ill is the ability to function through, or in spite of, these emotional states. Secretly, I’m not 100% sold on the idea that mental illness necessarily have a neurologically centered chemical imbalance, but I do think that some medications can be helpful. However, no amount of medicine can cure you from what is honestly “being a human being with emotions”.

But please, for me, stop using these diagnoses as adjectives.

Let's Queer Things Up!

Ugh. So let’s talk about this mess:

ratiochristi Pictured above is a flyer that reads, “IS THE BIBLE’S GOD BIPOLAR?” in a large font. It includes the name of an organization, “Ratio Christi,” in a stylized text below.

It’s been said before, and it should be common knowledge by now, but apparently it isn’t.

So here’s a fun fact: Mental illnesses are not adjectives.

I’m angry. I’m angry because this isn’t the first time I’ve seen “bipolar” used in such a frivolous, insensitive way, and I’m sure it won’t be the last.

Do people honestly think that bipolar disorder is just a happy/sad rollercoaster of fun times? Because I’m pretty sure the word you’re looking for is “moody” or “dramatic” or maybe “volatile,” none of which are synonyms for “bipolar.”

Have you considered that maybe God is just really irrational? Because if anything, I think the more accurate description…

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About Del

A shaman who writes about spiritual things, but not in that namby-pamby "everything is light and fluffy" sort of way.

2 responses to “For the Last Time: Mental Illnesses Are Not Adjectives

  1. aeddubh ⋅

    Totally in agreement with you there. I don’t like to use them as adjectives to refer to people who are mentally ill, either. For example, Monster Alice “has depression and bipolar disorder”, *not* “is depressed and bipolar”. The illness is not the person.

  2. Raven

    The danger of diagnosis… often used as a labeling device. At least we are taught to try to avoid that pitfall in the MS Counseling program… we don’t say “Shelly is measles” or “John is melanoma”.. why should mental health disorders be treated differently?

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