Are you bipolar? Rebekah no longer is; she told me so a few weeks ago. It was a breakthrough for her, a revelation, that I received as a gift, an insight specific to her yet universal in application. When clients share insights, I am gifted.
Rebekah (name and other details changed to preserve confidentiality) is in her early forties, single, professional, and, until last month, bipolar. She no longer sees herself that way, she told me, noting the progress made after about a year in therapy in terms of self-understanding, a journey of discovery from “I am bipolar” to “I have bipolar” to “I experience bipolar” to, finally: “I am Rebekah. And from time to time I experience symptoms that some folks refer to with the label bipolar. That is their label, not mine; I am Rebekah.“
Rebekah’s gift to me—a gift of insight, of wisdom, of truth—is an always timely reminder that our personhood is primary and that no one can be reduced to labels or categories. Will Rebekah struggle from time to time with various symptoms that fall under the diagnostic label bipolar? Perhaps. But she has her personally identified toolbox of natural lifestyle helps (solid friendships, adequate sleep, healthy diet, physical exercise, a meaningful profession, spiritual practices) and prescribed medication as needed to assist her.
But more important than that toolbox is Rebekah’s new self-understanding: “I am Rebekah.” Now she can begin each new day affirming that she is not a psychiatric label but is instead a unique, never-before-repeated child of God, with acknowledged inner strengths and healthy outer resources.
I am not helpless, and I am not alone. I am Rebekah.