You know, I got an email from someone saying, “I am a Bipolar Sufferer….” and it bothered me. What she wrote in the email is not important for this message, but the introduction is. I thought to myself “bipolar sufferer?” Do you have to suffer from bipolar disorder? I asked myself. Does everyone who has it actually suffer from bipolar disorder? Then I thought about it. No, in my opinion, everyone who has bipolar disorder does not necessarily suffer. I know my mom no longer does. Nobody that works for me with bipolar disorder suffers any more. Once your loved one reaches stability, I believe the “suffering” part is over. On the other hand, just using the term “sufferer” is probably a misnomer.
In general, we say people are suffering. For example, we may say, “They are “suffering from the flu,” or something as trivial as that (not that the flu is trivial, just when compared to something like bipolar disorder). So we need to define “suffering.” One of the ways that Webster’s dictionary defines suffer is: “to submit to or be forced to endure.” Another is: “to endure, death, pain, or distress.” And another: “to be subject to disability or handicap.”
According to these definitions, I can see how someone undiagnosed or newly diagnosed with bipolar disorder might truly suffer. But as they begin to recover, I believe the suffering lessens.
I think it also has to do with your attitude. Like whether you feel that you are in control, or the disorder is in control. For example: How you talk to your loved one with bipolar disorder and how you talk to yourself is really important. Watch the wording you use. Like this woman in the email. If you think of yourself as a bipolar sufferer or your loved one as suffering from bipolar disorder, doesn’t that make it a very negative thing? Even something that can’t be defeated? Or recovered from? Something that controls you? Instead of you controlling it? Don’t you think things will be far worse if you think of it in terms of suffering?
A couple of those definitions made it sound like a horrible thing, to suffer. And it is. On the other hand, let’s look at the term “recover.” Webster’s dictionary defines it as: “to get back, to regain…” “to find or identify again…” “to bring back to normal position or condition…” “to save from loss and restore to usefulness.” Do you see how these definitions are so much ore positive?
If you concentrate on recovery more than suffering, you will have a much easier time of it.
Well, I have to go!