call me ‘crazy’

I read an article for class that intrigued me. It was about housing for the homeless that’s available only if one has a psychiatric diagnosis. The researcher wanted to know why these homeless (mentally ill) women refused this sort of housing. It turns out that they did not want to be labeled as ‘crazy’ and thought that once you become ‘crazy,’ you will always be crazy. (The whole research paper is posted here.)

Well, in that case, once I have the diagnosis of being bipolar, will I always be bipolar? Or can someone become a ‘bipolar survivor,’ kind of like a cancer survivor?

It’s not that I have issue with having that ‘label’ because I know I have bipolar disorder. But when we say “I’m bipolar” instead of “I have bipolar disorder,” are we wrapping our identity around this illness? People with other conditions usually don’t say “I am [insert an illness here.]” Have we totally committed/resigned ourselves to having BP for the rest of our lives? I’m always torn when saying/writing that “I’m bipolar,” because to me, it sounds as if that’s who I am, first and foremost. And I don’t want to seem like I define myself through a single illness. However, maybe I’m trying to deny something that, well, I am.  And by saying that “I’m bipolar,” I would simply be accepting the fact that this illness is a part of me, since it would be impossible to treat it if I didn’t acknowledge that it’s not like a cold that can go away in a day, but something that takes personal commitment from me.

Maybe I’m just being too critical about this grammatical usage.

Perhaps it’s okay to be ‘crazy’ for the rest of your life. After all, what really matters is that you have that ‘craziness’ under control and that you’re living your life. Besides, I can’t deny that some of that craziness made me who I am.

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