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Senior Contributor

Labels and Self labelling.

I've noticed alot of people with mental illnesses use terminology such is "I'm bipolar" instead of "I have bipolar(disorder)" etc...

I think it's very important that we move away from this because,while the people who say this might think it means nothing and they just do it for convenience sake,in reality it can have an effect on societal perceptions of mental illness.

A persons identity is never "a bipolar" so I'm really perplexed why some people use these self labels.
There's still huge stigma towards mental illness "sufferers" with the media and some doctors using labels such as "a paranoid schizophrenic" etc so to break down stigma and labelling I think it's important patients themselves don't refer to themselves as these things.


Re: Labels and Self labelling.

I agree! Even 'I  have a diagnosis of_______' sounds better than I am ______ (the diagnosis), as people are much more than that, and made up of many parts.

Re: Labels and Self labelling.

I couldn't agree more, Ivana.

Re: Labels and Self labelling.

Personally I think if I have a diagnosis of bipolar then it's up to me how I say it?  A person is a holistic being made up of many different aspects.  I think people get too hung up on "labels" and how things are worded.

Re: Labels and Self labelling.

Hi Ivana,

I've some across from the lived experience forum, to reply to a couple of things I saw last night - and just found this so I'll stick my oar in.

I think (as a sufferer) that what you say makes a lot of sense, it is something I feel passionately about. The illness is not us, and my experience is that "others" are all too willing to put us in a box with a label. Either way this can be quite dis-abling in itself.

Personally I've had 5 different diagnoses over the last 35 years, most recently PTSD and then bipolar. I do suffer from these. I have often gone out of my way over the years to seek better diagnosis/ understanding of my diagnosis because having the label for the illness and understanding it helps me gain greater self-understanding. But none of these five dianoses have ever come anywhere near defining me. 

I'll take "human" as a label but that's it, the rest are just descriptors.



Re: Labels and Self labelling.

For myself, I'll just stick to the label "Hobbit". It's good, because I don't have to say "I suffer from being a Hobbit, I just am one. If that's my pigeon hole, then I'll just make it comfy and hobbit-like, stick to my 2 breakfasts a day....and be happy!!

(I'm trying to be metaphorical!!)

Hope everyone is good.

Re: Labels and Self labelling.


If there was no stigma towards mental illness then it wouldn't matter what people referred themselves as.

We are individuals but we are also societal creatures & in a way,people do teach others how to treat them.
Due to labels still being used by many in a stigmatising way,why would anyone want to refer to themselves as the label as their identity?
To use an analogy,people with cancer don't say “i'm cancer“ for example....

Re: Labels and Self labelling.

Hmmm, as a Grower, I am interested in people, not in diagnoses unless it is helpful to the person who brings it up. In most instances, the diagnosis may be extraordinarily helpful in understanding what may help improve the person's management of their life, it might be medication, it might be a particular therapy or a whole range of helps.
But, mostly, I think I am not a label, I am person who's been through a bit of stuff, is working on stuff, and will probably always have stuff to deal with..
I would absolutely hate it if people thought of me as "aha! that' s the person with typical xxx or yyy or zzz disorders".
But I also stand 100% for people to have the right to express themselves in a way that is consistent with their truth and experience of life! For some people, diagnoses are to be worn with pride and that is fantastic too as all of these diverse views are stigma busters!!!

Re: Labels and Self labelling.

Good thinking, Alessandra.

Re: Labels and Self labelling.

Well as a person with a diagnosis of bipolar, I choose to label myself as I see fit.  Whether I say I'm bipolar, I have bipolar or I am a person with bipolar it doesn't change the reality and I doubt very much that it's going to alter anyone's opinion of mental illness.  

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