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Hello! I'm a writer from central New York who has bipolar disorder. Among other topics, I write about mental illness and writing. I have short stories published in Lynx Eye, Lost Coast Review, The Outrider Review, Sliver of Stone Magazine, The Mondegreen, The Linnet's Wings, Cobalt Review, Breath & Shadow, The Round Up, Postscripts to Darkness, Masque & Spectacle, and several other journals. I have a poem in The Poeming Pigeon, essays about mental illness in The Ram Boutique and Amygdala Literary Magazine, and an essay in Parts Unbound: Narratives of Mental Illness & Health, a book that was published by Lime Hawk Literary Arts Collective. My story "Santa Lucia" was nominated for a Pushcart Prize. I've written three novels entitled Purple Loosestrife, Hoping It Might Be So, and Dark and Bright, all of which are as yet unpublished. I'm working on a memoir about my experiences with bipolar disorder. I have a B.A. in English from SUNY Buffalo and an M.A. in English from SUNY College at Brockport. I hope you enjoy your visit to my blog!

Thursday, August 10, 2017

The Misuse of "OCD" and "Bipolar"

OCD stands for obsessive-compulsive disorder, which is a brain disorder that typically requires medication and therapy and sometimes even hospitalization. OCD is not an adjective; it does not describe people who happen to be very neat and orderly and organized. It's a serious mental illness. You can't "be" OCD. You can have OCD, and if you do, then you understand the sort of pain, anguish, and suffering it can cause.

I understand that the acronym "OCD" has taken on a certain slang meaning. I know what people mean when they say, "I'm so OCD." This doesn't mean I have to like it. I think that using the phrase this way misrepresents and trivializes obsessive-compulsive disorder.

Likewise, I've heard people say, "I'm so bipolar," when they do not have diagnosed bipolar disorder. Rather, they mean they're feeling moody or indecisive or erratic. Most people who know me know what bipolar disorder is. Like OCD, it's a serious mental illness, a brain disorder. To misuse "bipolar" misrepresents the illness and, as I said about the slang use of OCD, trivializes it.

Trivializing these illnesses can be just as bad as fearing them. It all feeds into the stigma that surrounds mental illness. Understanding, empathy, compassion, an educated point of view: these are what people with mental illnesses need.

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