This morning, I was really fired up because I saw this shirt on Keep.com
(After checking, there are almost 200 similar items on Amazon--including baby bibs! Ugh.)
What is this saying about mental illnesses? That they're "cute" to have?
A fashion choice like this downplays the seriousness of someone's disorder, communicates that the person wearing the shirt is uneducated in areas of mental health, and is really just poor in taste.
My real problem is that the person choosing to wear the shirt is either knowingly or unknowingly using the term "bipolar" as an adjective to describe their personality.
Bipolar disorder does consist of extreme "ups" and "downs," called mania and depression, respectively, hence why it is sometimes still called manic-depression. But when most people say, "You're being so bipolar right now!" or "Quit acting bipolar!" what they tend to mean is, the person they're referring to is being wishy-washy, or having a mild mood-swing.
Looking across Tumblr, there were frequently mentions of how one's poem was "too bipolar" or how so-and-so was being a real "bipolar" pain in the butt. There were even more confusions as to what bipolar really is, generalizing it to just a depressed state to mixing it with Dissociative identity disorder (formerly known as multiple personality disorder) and making statements such as, "I'm so bipolar--I need more blogs for all my personalities!"
Clearly, we need some mental health awareness. "More than 10 million Americans have bipolar disorder," NAMI records, although who knows if that is the true number due to some people suffering from not wanting to come out about how they are feeling (What is Bipolar Disorder? n.d.).
You never know who you are going to hurt with your words. More than that, something ridiculous like the shirt above may increase prejudice and instill stigma. Let's not do that.
What is Bipolar Disorder? (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.nami.org/Content/NavigationMenu/Mental_Illnesses/Bipolar1/Home_-_What_is_Bipolar_Disorder_.htm