I just got an email from the International Bipolar Foundation. I get emails from them all the time. I get so much email that I don’t pay much attention but something caught my eye at the end of this one. The mission statement:
Our mission is to eliminate bipolar disorder through the advancement of research; to promote and enhance care & support services; and to erase associated stigma through public education.
This is so incredibly upsetting to me. The second two parts don’t apply if they achieve the first, which is the one that gets me. They want to eliminate bipolar disorder. Really? There must not have been any bipolar people on this mission-making crew. To eliminate bipolar disorder. That’s personal. They might as well just say they want to eliminate ME.
There is the whole movement of person-first language and the “I have bipolar disorder” instead of “I am bipolar.” I do not subscribe to this movement. Whether I have or I am bipolar disorder, it is a huge part of my life. Without my symptoms I wouldn’t be me. Being bipolar allows me more creativity. I get to experience higher highs, bigger ideas, grander plans. I sink to depths that are extremely painful but bring intense poetry and understanding. I see things other people don’t. I feel and sense things other people never will. And I wouldn’t ever trade that. Ever.
My psychiatrist even said yesterday, “If you didn’t have these extremes, you wouldn’t be Michelle.” I LIKE being Michelle. I like seeing colors and numbers and being creative and making connections other people don’t. I know I’m not always happy. But I’m me. Why would you eliminate me? Cuz you don’t wanna deal with me? Cuz I cause too much trouble?
Some of the most successful people in the world are or have been bipolar. Would you eliminate them? Would you eliminate the things they accomplished through their extra bipolar abilities?
I know I’m not the easiest person to deal with. And I know that a lot of my life has been very painful. There are so many times I just want to give up. To actively end this pursuit. But I would NEVER choose to end bipolar. It’s not like curing cancer or AIDS. It’s not all bad. It’s taking a part of me away. And stopping the greatest part of someone else from ever happening. I mean think of it. If they eliminated bipolar disorder eventually it would just be a line in a textbook. What could’ve been, buried in a book.
It just baffles me. Makes me angry. And sad. That kind of sad where my heart is quiet because I can’t stop these people from hating bipolar for whatever reason they do. And I can’t stop them from trying to eradicate it from the planet, to eradicate me. All I can do is watch. And get angry reading my email. I guess if you have enough money you can attempt to eradicate anything. You should just hope other people aren’t making it their mission to eradicate you.
© Michelle Routhieaux 2011
How can you eliminate bipolar by erasing the stigma, I thought it was genetic and biological in nature. therefore improving care and support services also would do nothing. As u said they would have to eliminate u and alot of people. We’d miss ur smile and a whole lot of other things. The world wouldn’t be the same. I’d be pissed like u. And this is coming from a bipolar foundation???
Some of the greatest people have/had disabilities or disorders. Einstein was dyslexic I think, Stephen Hawking has motor neurone disease, I actually think a ‘disorder’ labels people as sort of second class when in fact it can be the making of someone. It can spur you on to do ten times better than a ‘normal’ person, who defines what is and isn’t normal anyway? Variety is supposed to be the spice of life, and yet we seem to constantly seek to eradicate it, or put people into little boxes and categories, I don’t believe in a lot of that stuff. People are just people, all different.
I can’t put it better than this. I would never give up depression; it’s who I am, it’s had such an impact on every aspect of my life. Without it, I’d be a different person, and I quite like who I am. Even if I didn’t, my identity is important to me.
I love the high degree of what seems like real self acceptance here. Bravo. I am a envious, I am far from that kind of acceptance, in terms of really believing it for myself (accepting acceptance for myself, it does not sink in & take hold); I can talk to people all day about acceptance, even benefit most of them, but I feel like a fraud.
I have always expressed this as: often with extraordinary ability goes extraordinary vulnerability. They often go together, or stem from a common basis. They can be the same, not separate except in language when speaking about it. is the glass half full or half empty? My answer has always been it is both (from what I see); each definable feature makes the whole. Half full is required to make half empty, & vice-versa.
And this reminds me that this is also about individual preference & choice. Do we (force?) elimination (such as near or before birth when possible), or give the person the right or opportunity to choose when they are able? The individual may determine & decide for themselves that the benefits outweigh the liabilities for them, that overall it is worth it; or decide it is not worth it overall for them; but at least the get chance to make that choice for themselves based on who they are (& have the potential to become).