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  • Writer's picturethe bipolar talker

The difference between "experiencing" and "having" bipolar. or anything.

Updated: Jun 2, 2021

For me, learning the terminology and then actively using the terminology of "experiencing" has been really great and freeing. What it does for me is create a barrier between who I am and the disorder itself. I do usually say I "am" bipolar and talk about "being" bipolar just because it is more readily available in my mind's dictionary and less taxing to say as those descriptions have less syllables.

However, when I am by myself and I am thinking about this, I always make that distinction about "experiencing" bipolar rather than it being something that I "am" because it helps me cope better.

I have always been fascinated by languages and how much you can simply learn about the world or a country from their language. You can go outwards and learn about one's culture or you can understand how a certain group of people think by the way that they phrase certain things. After all, it is language that is the brush that paints the world in our head. To me, learning more words is like purchasing new shades of colour pencils - it can help create a more vivid and detailed picture.

From a linguistics (language-related) perspective, there is a big difference between "being" something or "experiencing" something. One contributes to your sense of identity and is you. Something being you, to me, means that it cannot be taken away from you without significantly taking away from who you are at your core. I don't like being that close to the disorder. I prefer to keep that space of something being me for more intimate and sacred experiences - such as creativity and relationships that I hold dear.

For me, being separate to the disorder helps me feel better. It helps me get out of a thinking rut that can happen. Thought pattern example. Why do I have to be this way? Why did I have to have bipolar? Well actually, I don't have bipolar, technically I experience it. There's some good experiences and bad experiences and that's okay. etc. etc.

Something that has fundamentally changed how I think is ordering my thoughts in a manageable way. The word disorder does mean dis(miss) ordered, hence, out of order. I try not to let harming thoughts get produced in my head because before it was different. I realised I had picked up a lot of harmful thoughts and getting them all out and ordered was like having to organise your whole room when it's messy and you haven't cleaned up in a while. You may have spilled some liquid a while ago which has now made something stick to the floor. You could have to scrub for quite some time before the floor gets back to how it was. If it was nail polish or something really strong, it may never get back to quite how it was prior. You may eventually end up with a slightly stained carpet which you have restored the best you can and that's okay, it's close enough. After all it's not like we live at the micro level anyway, you probably won't even notice it. However, leaving harming thoughts fester in your head for too long can cause some serious damage - the type that you will have to get some professionals to come and steam clean (medication). Unfortunately, there are instances where the rug may get too damaged and it starts affecting the health of the room. This is why I participate in regular clean outs of my room and any negative thoughts that try and make their room in there. Some may even say, that it is frankly dangerous for negative thoughts to try and live in my head because they will simply get exterminated like the little pests that they are.

So yea, this is why I like to create the barrier of experiencing something from being something - a great little instrument to keep in my lexicon.

If you are experiencing any symptoms of bipolar and feel concerned, contact your GP or call the Mental Health Access Line on 1800 011 511.

In the case of an emergency, call 000.

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