Seeking help is something to be proud of. Overcoming adversity is something to be proud of. Graduating from school or Uni, getting a job promotion is something to be proud of. Being self harm free is something to be proud of. Recovering from a mental illness is something to be proud of. Being ill though? In my opinion, that is not something to be proud of.
Recently I was (mistakenly) tagged on Facebook, along with a few other bloggers in the madosphere, in a photo that read, ‘Bipolar and Proud’. The caption for this photo, ‘If you’re not bipolar, then I’m sorry for the mistake and please untag yourself. If you are bipolar and not proud of it please untag yourself and take me off your friendlist.’
I’m not bipolar and therefore untagged myself. But ‘Bipolar and Proud,’ really? It’s like me saying ‘Depressed and Proud’ or someone else saying ‘Diabetic and Proud’ or ‘Cancerous and Proud’ which quite frankly, I find ridiculous. What I found surprising was many agreed with the sentiment. One who does not have bipolar disorder but BPD states that she’s ‘proudly Borderline’ and that ‘BPD rules’. Only two people with bipolar disorder disagreed (or were brave enough to do so), one of them being Clarissa who also wrote a blog post on this matter.
What I just don’t understand is the pride in having an illness. Speaking from a depression point of view, there is no pride in an illness that causes me to be miserable much of the time. There is no pride in an illness that causes me to cut myself and overdose. There is no pride in an illness that causes me to hurt and cause worry to family and friends. When it is said that having a mental illness is something to be ‘proud of,’ it minimises the pain and suffering that many individuals go through as a result. For goodness sake, people die from bipolar disorder. People die from mental illness. Why on earth are people proud to have an illness that causes mortality, that claims lives?
If the statement was ‘Bipolar and Not Ashamed of It’ or ‘Bipolar and Proud to be in Recovery’ I would support that fully. It’s the pride in being ill that irks me.
No doubt this is controversial and may offend some. But I needed to say it. I wouldn’t say I’m ashamed to have a mental illness, nor should I be, but I’m definitely not proud to have it either.