Why I, founder of AaB, choose NOT to change the name of our site.

I want to get one things straight before I begin …

I am NOT trying to offend ANYONE, exclude anyone, upset anyone, disqualify anyone’s feelings, and/or share my feelings out of a need to act superior or condescending. My words are not said with a bitter tone or a snotty attitude. My words are simply a way of explaining my reasons for choosing to keep the site name, Ask a Bipolar. Nothing more … nothing less.

*Puts away the Caps lock and takes a deep breath*

I think because I am the founder of this website, people often forget some of the key things about me …

1. I suffer from bipolar disorder.

which means

2. I have a mental illness.

and because of that

3. I get depressed, hypomanic, and sometimes I feel nothing at all.

I also

4. Have sensitivity issues and can be easily offended when my decisions and choices are put into question.

Because of this

5. I feel bullied at times.

6. I feel like the prey of unsatisfied souls.

7. I feel like nobody likes me, everybody hates me, and I’m about to head out to the garden to eat worms.

What does this all mean?

8. I’m just like every other person with, suffering from, who is … or what have you … bipolar.

*GASP*

(oops … no more caps, I swear!)

If you missed the concept I’m trying to convey, let me say it this way … I deal with this illness too. Every day actually. My moods fluctuate and drive me batty. I’m depressed more often than I’m hypomanic. And I experience symptoms similar to or exactly the same as anyone else who suffers from bipolar disorder. Needless to say … I’m you! (or your mother, father, sister, friend, brother’s uncle’s monkey … just smaller …)

That is why I started this site. I didn’t start it to offend anyone. I didn’t start it to hurt anyone. I started Ask a Bipolar as a way of helping people understand me and my son and everyone else who deals with mental illness in any way, shape or form. Point being …

I’m just trying to help!

(hahaha … see how I did that? Avoided the caps and used bold instead? *evil laughter*)

So why did I choose the name of the site?

It’s simple really. It was catchy. I was a small shoe in the gigantic bipolar closet and I had no idea others felt so strongly about how they were associated with their mental illnesses. I just wanted a name that conveyed what I was trying to do with the site. I wanted people to see our title and say, “Ask a bipolar? Hmmmm …. I’ve got tons of questions to ask a bipolar!”

Maybe we don’t like being called “bipolar” or “schizophrenic” or “mentally disabled,” and that’s understandable. Those are scarey terms. Unhappy terms. Terms that make you think everyone is looking at you like you need a lobotomy and the drool wiped off your chin. I’m not discounting these things. But I’m not going to shy away from what it is either.

To me … key words there … to me … it doesn’t matter what others call me. People have called me much worse things than “bipolar.” I’ve been labeled as ugly, annoying, short, free loader, selfish, depressing, crazy, buck toothed hammy down farmer girl Mary. (No really … my brother used to call me that all the time when I was little) So when someone says to me, “You’re bipolar!” I think to myself, “Yeah … I’m also smart, pretty, talented, loving, caring, and willing to do anything to help a friend feel better.” If they want to call me bipolar and say that defines me, who cares. There are a million things that define me. Bipolar is just one tiny piece of my picture. It’s not my fault if they choose not to see past that or see past my height or my eye color or the way I tie my shoes. I can’t be blamed for another person’s ignorance.

We are all many things. Not a one of us is the same. Labels do not define us. The medical world and/or the ignorant world came up with a set of labels to help us see that we have an illness. I mean, it’s not different from being pregnant. Being pregnant is just a medical term that means someone is carrying a child within them. In a way, that just says to me that being bipolar is just a way of explaining I have two sides to me and unfortunately I never know which one is going to show up each day. I carry a brain within me who’s chemistry is a bit off.

So I guess I don’t understand … why is everyone so ashamed of that?

WHY does it bother everyone so much when someone “labels” them?

WHY is it so offensive?

HOW does calling someone bipolar or schizophrenic or diabetic or depressed have to be viewed in such a negative light?

Can’t we just be who we are and stop worrying about being called bipolar and instead start educating the world about what it really MEANS to be bipolar? Why are we fighting about a name when what we should really be doing is going out and explaining to everyone what it means to be called that name?

It’s a word. It’s an adjective. It’s a stupid way of telling someone they have a mental illness. Well I do have a mental illness, but I’m not going to sit and debate whether or not it defines me, I’m going to show the world what it means to have a mental illness and help them understand in a way that makes being called “bipolar” something we are no longer ashamed of or offended by, but a word that we are proud to be referred to as.

Does that make me a bad person? Does it make my site suck more, or less? Does it take away from what I’m trying to do?

Again, I’m not trying to offend anyone. And if I have in fact offended you I deeply apologize. But please keep in mind, I’m a person too. I have my own opinions and you have yours. I’m just trying to view my world in a positive way and not dwell on things that I am unable to change. I run a site called Ask a Bipolar because, considering how this subject is so controversial, obviously there are many people out there who need help understanding it. And I’m here to help them understand. And while everyone’s off fighting the “label,” the name of my site is drawing in those who throw that label around every day, those who don’t get what it means to be called, “bipolar,” those who type in to Google “Ask a Bipolar” and know exactly what they are looking for … a place where they can find answers about what it’s like to have bipolar disorder … and my goal is to provide them a place where they can find those answers.

20 thoughts on “Why I, founder of AaB, choose NOT to change the name of our site.

  1. *raises her glass of rooster, throws out confetti and glitter, pets a unicorn, and blows the party horn*
    (bet you’re wondering where I got the unicorn?)
    and this, my dear friends, is why my sister oozes awesomeness…because she can put into words what needs to be conveyed.
    I love you, Little Bit.
    xoxox

  2. just to point out, as a perspective, I didn’t even realise people had brought it to you as an issue….but

    I think you will find the reason some have pointed it out but owning but not wearing the disorder as in the entire I have, Not I am ……is a large part significant part of the official recovery process…..not letting the disorder own you…..which is the whole reason any have even brought it to your attention….it is something they have had drilled into them as part of their recovery or part of their education as a supporter to not identify the person as their disorder…..

  3. Good grief Marybeth. I had no idea what was going on over here – I don’t get to the group as often as I’d like to and when I do, I mostly just lurk. But your page has offered me a lift many times as I live somewhat vicariously through you and the other posters.

    Keep up the great work. Why anyone would be bothered by the name “Ask a Bipolar” is beyond me. I thought that’s what this group was all about.

    Sometimes I think people complain about stuff just to have something to do.

    Hang in there. You are providing a great and much needed service. Thanks for all of your hard work and effort.

  4. i.e. its not about being offended or not offended….they are trying to point out to you what is and is not healthy…..

  5. I have to first say, I’m shocked that this would even be an issue. Secondly, I have to say, and I will use caps, GOOD FOR YOU!!
    I’m sorry, but that word Bipolar helps me to explain to others why I’m not doing as much as I did, maybe 2 weeks ago. It helps me explain that there are times when I can be a little out to lunch! I use this term on a daily basis as a tool, not as a defining term. Like you, I want to have people realize that, before they knew I was bipolar, that they liked me, “so there you go, you know someone with bipolar, and they’re not this twisted monsterous creature,” that some picture.
    I very much liked your comparison to people being pregnant. The only reaon people are willing to be labled pregnant and not bipolar is THEIR beliefs of the connotation. It’s time we bipolars take a firm grip on the “lable” and teach ourselves that it’s our own belief system that feeds the idea that this is a negative lable.
    Once again, good for you!

  6. I totally get that. I guess it just depends on which stage of recovery you are in maybe? See to me though … by letting the label or the name upset you so much aren’t you letting the illness own you? IDK … why does one opinion about it have to be right or wrong?

  7. *steals unicorn back from Theresa* *Stands on gigantic soapbox* *throws mass quantities of glitter* YOU SAID IT MB!!!!! (YES, MY CAPS LOCK IS GLUED DOWN FOR THIS TOPIC) 🙂 I LUFF THE SITE NAME AND AM PROUD OF THE SITE! For other comments, you can see my own post from earlier in the day, but YAY MB!!!!!!

  8. Your doing fine and helping the world understand bipolar. Too bad you do not have sponsors to get the word out to the world. Keep a stiff upper lip.

  9. Really though, it’s semantics. I don’t identify as someone who is only limited to the “bipolar” lable. But I say I’m bipolar, meaning I have bipolar. To me, they’re interchangeable. Maybe I’m weird. Maybe everyone thinks I am not looking at things from a healthy perspective, but personally, I don’t need anyone else to make that call, ie. professionals. I personally think that it’s MaryBeth’s right to call the site what she wants. Not to mention when she did name it, maybe she did identify in that particular way, but if she changed the name, someone may not be as easily able to find her or figure out what the site was aiming to do. I don’t wish to sound rude or mean or anything like that, I don’t have any ill wishes to anyone, or wish to upset anyone. Just kind of thought I’d throw my two cents worth in there too. I mean, my opinion is not the only out there, and maybe I’m wrong to think the way I do, but t’s what works for me.

  10. I try to break the stigma of bipolar disorder. When I was first diagnosed I wasn’t going to tell anyone, but then I realized that being bipolar is part of what makes me me. Do I wish I had a “normal,” life? I don’t know since this is all I know. It is normal to me. If I can help one person realize that we’re the same as they are, just fighting different demons, then it’s all worth it. %hearts;

  11. couldn’t have said it better Marybeth. Your site and group has become a second “home” to me, helping me enormously. I don’t give a s**t what its called but the name is catchy and you’re a champion in my eyes. <3

  12. You know, I understand the rationale behind the objections, but I just don’t think it’s important enough for people to get their knickers in a knot. When I first saw the name of the site I almost found it a bit confronting. But the truth is that ‘Ask a bipolar’ caught my attention, told me exactly what the site was about and let me know that there are people who have this illness and don’t feel the need to live an apologetic life because of it. It is what it is. Make the best of the situation. Move on. That was a message I desperately needed to hear.

    I think the site does a fantastic job in helping people to not let their illness define them. The content is empowering. Thanks!

  13. The name “ask a bipolar” caught my eye straight away when I was initially surfing the internet to find information on bipolar disorder. At the time I had just recently been diagnosed with bipolar II. My pdoc encouraged me to look for resources, support and information via the internet because I am quite isolated due to living in a very small town. Upon searching for information I googled bipolar disorder and quickly came upon the “ask a bipolar” site. My initial reaction was “this looks like an interesting site and worth checking out”. I never felt offended by the name, I actually had “little reaction to the name”. I think the big thing for me was is that it “immediately caught my attention”, (which is not all that easy to do as I also have ADHD) and I often miss “ordinary things” that do not stand out to me. So for me if the site had an “ordinary run of the mill kind of name” my guess is I would have overlooked it and likely would have bypassed it altogether. The site gave me the reassurance that there are a lot of other people with bipolar disorder who suffer from all of the things I do. It was a place for me to learn more about the disorder and read about what others do to “cope with all of it’s symptoms”. The site was and still is a very valuable resource for me and I would definitely recommend the site to others. The other positive for me was that the site was looking for some volunteer writers at the time and Marybeth recruited me to do some writing. I have been researching/writing for the site for awhile now and this too has helped me learn more about the disorder and how it impacts me on a daily basis. I continue to enjoy writing for the site and being a part of a very valuable resource. So thank you Marybeth for giving me the opportunity to help others through my writing. I am glad that you are not changing the “name” but even if you did and changed it a million times I would still want to be involved with the site. 🙂

  14. Debi (@manicornot)

    Ask a bipolar sufferer. your title makes me the illness, not a person. I am human, I suffer from this disorder. That is my beef. No one is their illness.

  15. I applaud your efforts and you look very young to boot. “Ask a bipolar” gets right
    to the point.Though I prefer to be “someone who has bi-polar” to the general population, this site,”ask a bipolar” is just fine. Thanks for making it easy to communicate, lisa

  16. I was surprised that anyone would have an issue with the site name. I have bipolar disorder and I often have a lot of questions about it so when I saw the name I was thrilled. Yes there is a lot of stigma that goes with the name but as a bipolar person I see it as my job to educate those that are ready and willing to learn. And I think you are right too when you wrote that maybe it has a bit to do with what stage of recovery you are in. It can be a scary thing to accept although in my case I was somewhat glad to finally have a name for it besides what everyone would say to describe me, “Oh he’s just so sensitive!” haha Thanks for creating this site and doing all the good work you do. It’s very much appreciated.

  17. Hello. My name is AJ French & I serve as Executive Director of a Sacred Creations, which is a statewide organization in Illinois with membership comprised entirely of persons living with mental health conditions. The issue of person-first language is very important to our membership, so much so that two members recently contacted me regarding this site and particularly the content of this blog post.

    Identity is important and we have the freedom to identify however we want to identify. This is your right. This is my right. This is our right and I think that your blog post is very well-written, despite the fact that Sacred Creations opposes identifying as BEING an illness. I’m not yelling here, there’s just no way to italize or underline or bolden or otherwise creatively empahsize the word BEING.
    _________________________________

    The issue is HAVING verses BEING.

    I have brown hair. This does not mean I am brown hair.

    I have the flu. This does not mean I am the flu (or cancer or bipolar).
    _________________________________

    I believe you are familiar with this issue and I’m really not posting this in an attempt to change your mind about how you wish to identify. I only added the “HAVING v. BEING” issue because it appears that some of your online followers don’t understand why other of your online followers might have a problem with your chosen terminology.

    The primary reason I am writing is because there is a problem when you say you are writing “as a way of helping people understand me and my son and EVERYONE ELSE who deals with mental illness in any way, shape or form.” (again, not at all yelling – – just trying to draw attention to certain words) You transitioned from speaking about your circumstances to speaking on behalf of everyone who lives with a mental health condition, despite that so many of us find these words (Ask a Bipolar) to be language that has brought about so much misunderstanding of who we are.

    It’s not so much about who is right or wrong, as it is about understanding WHY we choose to identify the way that we do. After reading your post, I clearly understand why you have chosen to identify the way you have. I don’t agree with it, but I do understand your reasoning. I am asking you to give consideration to providing a guest writer with opportunity to post the opposing opinion on your blog. We are not asking you to change the name of your blog. We just want people to understand the reason why we choose to identify with person-first language…whether they agree with it or not.

    Thank you for your consideration of this request.

Thoughts? Questions? Leave your feedback here!