I have heard a lot of people say that, “I am bi-polar,” or “… depressed,” etc…

Instead of defining the disease, they own it as a part of themselves. A better approach would be to say, “I have bi-polar,” etc… The ability to separate the two helps with self-esteem and first impressions. Negativity surrounds mental health in society; thought long strides have been made to drop stigma, misunderstanding and rumors create misconceptions of what mental health is. When I first tell people I am bi-polar, many respond with examples of their friends say, “I get such mood swings, I must be bi-polar,” or, “that guy is angry a lot, he must be bi-polar,” etc… Without understanding the symptoms that come with having bi-polar, or how they affect people; they make judgements of their friends, self, and I.

Many see bi-polar as a mood swinging, angry, destructive, and personality changing disease. Though not wrong, there are a lot more symptoms than the destructive ones mentioned: mania, fast talking, fast moving, spending problems, ideas of invincibility or grandeur, some may experience psychotic symptoms and hallucinations. There are other signs, but the ones listed are common across the spectrum of bi-polar.

Educating family and friends about what makes up a bi-polar person helps protect the bi-polar person. When in the depths of a manic or depressed episode those closest to the bi-polar person are able to help lead them back to firm mental ground. Nothing is worse than being in a manic episode, all alone, with a nagging voice being muffled that I should be careful, but the mood pushes me to take huge risks.

Instead of letting your friends own themselves as a disease, lift them up and support them. They may be difficult to handle from time. Though its important that we who have mental health own up to our actions, it is equally as important that were given the chance to redeem ourselves. It is often I have said words in manic episode I don’t truly mean, but would never say when I am in the right frame of mind and mood.

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