Friday, 10 February 2012

I am vs. I have

Obviously Wiggers didn't keep me. He did however change my antidepressant. I'll update on that when I actually get the prescription and start feeling affects of it.

So..people keep comparing mental health issues with diabetes. When someone is diabetic they say, "I Have diabetes." As if it is something external, or something beyond their control. Something they must deal with that does not make them who they are. When someone with diabetes uses the term "I am" the noun changes. Its not "I am diabetes", it's "I am diabetic." That simple change in the noun makes a world of difference. Diabetes is a disease, it is a flaw. Being diabetic is a result of something outside of you. Its like saying I have a disease (diabetes) and the effect it has on me gives me this characteristic (diabetic). It's not who you are, it doesn't make you - its just the affect from something outside of you. Something you have no control over.

Bi-polar is different. Most commonly people with this illness say, "I am bipolar. Occasionally it is "I have bipolar" - but notice that with either verb Am vs. Have the noun doesn't change. If one has bipolar, one is bipolar. There is no way to modify that noun. It's a small grammatical thing, with big ramifications.

Having something implies that you can get rid of it, you can manage it, it is not you - you merely possess it; whether for the moment, forever etc. But at the root of it all it is not you, it is outside of you. Being something implies that it is within you - that there is nothing you can do. Yes you can manage it, but it is you. It makes part of who you are.

Maybe that's something about the illness itself though. With diabetes, it does not affect your personality, or your brain. It requires monitoring your body and adjusting your diet and lifestyle accordingly. With bipolar - it's literally in your head. It creates havoc on your moods, emotions, thought patterns. All of those things make up who you are. Your blood sugar levels do not make your personality. But your emotions and how you respond to situations do.

I guess that's part of the reason the comparison bothers me. I get what people are trying to say. Mental illness is no different, in the grand scheme of things, than physical illness. But it is - mental illness affects the mind. The mind is at the core of what makes us who we are. When we have an illness that affects the core of who we are - part of us does become that illness rather than just possessing that illness.

I am bipolar. It does make up who I am. How much of who I am? I don't know. Have I accepted that? Not one bit. It's hard to accept that you are something you have no control over and never wanted to be. I never wanted to break my ankles, my knee, or have endometriosis. But those didn't make up who I am. I had those issues - but I wasn't those issues. I both have and am bipolar and there are no two ways about it.

Maybe this is the first step towards acceptance. IDK...but it was on my mind today.

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