Oh, goodness gracious, it just never ends.
Here are excerpts from a very civil comment debate re: a Huffington Post essay by young woman discussing her mental illness disease, bipolar disorder:
I have been taking the stance that “there is no cure, because there is no disease” and I was recently informed again that bipolar disorder is, in fact, a disease, because it is classified as a disease.
I fail to see how someone saying that a mode of experience is a disease makes it a disease. All that means is that people who have influence have assumed the right to classify other people’s existence, because they profit from the creation of the disease.
This is a law student trying to persuade me that bipolar disorder is a disease. It’s true, I did cite old information, saying that the APA could produce no clear evidence that there is a distinct pathology that results in chemical imbalance. Even the old citation was still relevant, because the APA still cannot produce any clear and consistent etiology that suggests disease.
However, I have been informed that soon I will learn that “Bi-Polar is in fact a Disease of the Brain.”
4 hours ago ( 7:16 PM)
I hear what you are saying, but I too have suffered from the “disease” (yes-it is classified as a disease- and in many cases yes- there are chemical imbalances in the brain) known as Bi-Polar Type I for many years now.
I am very fortunate to have met a psychiatrist almost a decade ago that is a “Nationally Known Expert” on this “Disease of the Brain” as you will soon learn; as the rest of the Nation also will, when the new DSMV 5 is published (Due out in March 2013) for which “he” is the key “Author” of this entire Mood Disorder (Old Term) section.
You seem to have used old facts dating back to 2003 (almost a decade old) when there have now been many advances to Bi-Polar as will be outlined in the new DSMV 5 and soon followed by updates in The Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) 20 Appendix 1 to Subpart P of Part 404-“Listing of Impairments” which under section 12:00 list in much detail ALL the mental “Diseases and Disorders.”
You are correct, there is still no absolute known “Cause” for Bi-Polar nor is there an “Absolute Cure:” but however, you will soon learn that Bi-Polar is in fact a Disease of the Brain – –
Here’s what I had to say about that, but I could only say 250 words of it, and so the rest is here:
1 second ago (11:09 PM)
While I appreciate your experience of Bi-polar/bipolar, and certainly honor your decision to view your mode of human experience as a disease, I am yet to be convinced of any neurochemical pathology that could be thought of in the true sense of a “disease.”
Although our mood states, emotional states, and energy levels are affected by our unique neurological landscapes, our human experience is more than the sum of our chemicals.
Further there is a great deal of research suggesting that factors such as trauma (and the resultant stress vulnerability), sensory differences (again, stress vulnerability), variance in cognitive/emotional processing style, and the simple cyclical nature of human existence may have a great deal to do with the manifestations of what is thought by the APA to be a disease, but which is, in actuality, our humanity in relation to the world.
Is this thing that you call bipolar disorder potentially disruptive to one’s life? Yes, it can be. In my own experience, I have almost died, and I have lost a lot, more than a few times. I do not, however, think that those difficulties were unavoidable due to my having a “brain disease.”
Human beings were not ever intended to all be the same and to all have the same tolerances and sensitivities. It is unreasonable (and perhaps even inhumane) to expect the same of everybody and to limit options for exploration of skills, to punish individuals whose needs, interests, and expressions may vary from the expected norm.
I may be diagnosed with bipolar disorder, but I am also very intelligent and deeply sensitive. Those things were never noted, never taken into account. Nor was my trauma history and nor were my personal modes of interpretation and expression.
I will never say that the way I experience the world is a disease.
In fact, I doubt that I would have even had the experiences that have meant the most to me if I were neurotypical.
I understand that some people’s unique experiences are very difficult for them to manage and that some people find medication to be helpful. However, I also understand that people are not often even given the chance to try to manage. Most “first breaks” or “periods of onset” occur in direct relation to a major stressor of some kind. Stress hormones affect the chemical landscape of our bodies in powerful ways.
It seems cruel and unusual to inform people that their state of difficulty is due to a brain disease and to then place them on dangerous cocktails of anti-convulsants and mood-stabilizers (i.e. neuroleptics). Many people become progressively worse, particularly those with schizophrenia and bipolar diagnoses, because of the life-limiting effects of living as mental patients or “consumers” of services in toxic and diminishing clinical settings.
Further, the effects of the drugs themselves can cause a great deal of harm, both in the short term and long term in the form of metabolic disturbance, damage to organs and the central nervous system, emotional and affective blunting, profound sexual dysfunction. This is in addition to “side effects” that can cause dangerous mood states, such as suicidality and even homicidality.
I understand that the new DSM will be coming out. I protested that book back in May.
It wrote me all wrong.
Many psychiatrists would likely think that I was severely ill. They may shudder to think that I manage what would be called “psychotic” symptoms without medication.
I’m not ill and that is not a sign of anosognosia.
I’m a neurodivergent person, who is happy to be alive as I am.
I have an innate human right to define my own experience in ways that are not harmful to me or to others and to be empowered to live my life as I see fit to live it, to the best of my ability and with no bounds placed on my potential.
Nobody has a right to define another person’s experience in ways that are harmful to them…or in any way at all, really.
By the way, I don’t think schizophrenia is a disease either.
Thank you again for your perspective, but even if they said, “It is caused by a gene that creates a blahblahblah in the blahblah receptors” I would still not think of it as a disease.