Are you glad to have a diagnosis, to be “labeled”?

Are you glad to have a diagnosis, to be “labeled”? I ask this because one of the reasons they give for not saying my son is bipolar is because they believe it could be a bad thing to “label” a kid at such a young age. They say the label alone could be a negative thing for him. I wonder if this is really true since he knows he has a problem, I don’t think not giving it a name is hiding anything from him. What are your thoughts on this?


We are not strangers to the “he’s too young for that kind of label” excuse. We heard it from teachers, doctors, school social workers, even a few PDocs. They didn’t want to say he was “bipolar” even though they all saw the signs. It was hard enough just to get them to suggest maybe he was ADHD. Everyone was afraid of the astigmatism that might follow him. As if throwing the label under the proverbial rug of denial was going to help him in the long run.

I am obviously not a professional, but it didn’t take me long to see the symptoms in PDog. There were so many little things that he said and did that reminded me of … well … me. I understand that doctors need to be careful about liability, but at the same time them covering there asses isn’t necessarily the best thing for a child, especially when they signs are all there.

We had to search hard for a doctor with (excuse my distasteful words) big enough balls to actually come out and say, “I feel very comfortable with this diagnosis of Bipolar Disorder.” And I am so glad we did!

Without the diagnosis we would not be getting the proper treatment for him. Without the diagnosis we would probably still be fighting for his IEP (Individualized Education Plan). And without a diagnosis, we would still be dancing around the issue with him about his illness instead of talking to him about it and educating him about how his brain works.

I will admit that I myself was terrified of the label as a child. I didn’t want to be considered “crazy”. But I also didn’t know anything about the illness except for how people joked about it. I am going to do everything I can to prevent PDog from feeling this way. I have been very honest with him about his condition. He knows he is Bipolar and he knows mommy is as well. I don’t want him to be ashamed of who he is. Nobody is ashamed of having diabetes, so why should he be ashamed of having a mental illness?

I feel like doctors who say they don’t want the “label” to have a negative effect on the child is just teaching us we should be ashamed of our child’s condition. I’m not ashamed of my son. He is bipolar. This makes him unique. He’s amazingly intelligent and has the worlds largest heart. (Seriously…if you were to x-ray him, I bet his heart would take up half his body.) Sure, he rages, he gets depressed, he gets frustrated BUT at least he knows why.

As a parent, knowing his diagnosis had brought me to this point where I have started this website to help educate other parents or individuals coping with bipolar disorder. I have researched via books and websites. I will do everything I can to be prepared. I’m not going to hide behind the curtains of fear, too scared that my child might get called “Bipolar”…cuz um hello, he is!

My child is bipolar. Hear me roar!!!! ROOOOOAAAARRRRR!!!

(You totally pictured me with a big hairy main and sharp teeth didn’t you? Silly you…Princesses don’t have sharp teeth!)

11 thoughts on “Are you glad to have a diagnosis, to be “labeled”?

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  2. I feel like doctors who say they don’t want the “label” to have a negative effect on the child is just teaching us we should be ashamed of our child’s condition. I’m not ashamed of my son. He is bipolar.

    ABSOLUTELY! I once asked my husband if it bothered him that I talk openly about his bipolar diagnosis, and his response was: “It is what it is. If it was something I could control, something I could be ashamed of, then I’d probably tell you something different.”

    Just yesterday I wrote a post about claiming terminology before it takes on a negative meaning because I’m afraid the term “bipolar” will become the next politcally incorrect label if it is not “claimed” soon.

    Thanks for this post!

  3. Thanks for the response! It gives me the courage to continue to ask the tough questions that my doctors don’t want to answer.

    I agree that if we finally have a diagnosis, then the education can begin with our son, preparing him for a good life managing this illness, when they hold back a diagnosis, I feel like I’m left in limbo.

    Plus all the weirdness they have about it does make you feel like this is something we shouldn’t talk about, if the stigma is going to be removed from mental illness, it has to start with the doctors.

  4. I absolutely agree Mama Bear. I hope you are able to find a doctor that you feel more comfortable with.

    And keep on asking those tough questions! We love answering them 🙂

  5. Kat it’s great that your husband has such a positive outlook on it. I think that is the most important step in moving forward and getting the proper help.

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  8. I have mixed feeling about being diagnosed. First, on the positive side, now I know I’m not just selfish/lazy/overly emotional. I can look back on my childhood and say, “Yep, I that was the bi-polar speaking, not me.” On the other hand, I have lost jobs because of my diagnosis. This one job I had, I had pills I had to take at work. I, stupidly, was open about what they were for to a co-worker, next work week they said they no longer needed my services. Of course, I live in a “Right to Work” state, which means they didn’t have to tell me why they fired me and I had no way of proving it was because of my conversation with my co-worker, but there you have it. I try to tell people “I AM not Bi-Polar, I HAVE Bi-polar disorder”, because what diabetic says “I AM Diabetes.” By saying “I have Bi-polar disorder” I’m trying to show people it is like any other illness, but society still often treats mental illnesses like a Choice we make or even a Crime. Stigma is a hard fact, but yes I am glad I know what is wrong and have a chance to get meds to control it.

  9. I’m glad for the label. For the longest time I had no idea why I was the way I was but now it all makes sense…in a strange way. Yes the stigma can add to the challenge but over time we can change that so that people will stop caring one way or the other. And one way to do that is to not shy away from the label of bipolar. Just add it to the rest of your own labels. “Latino, bipolar, photographer, super-Uncle, kick-ass-brother, awesome son, etc.”

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