In One Fight With Bipolar Disorder, a Loss of Self

A patient learns that mental-health experts ignore identity

By Neal Colgrass,  Newser Staff

Posted Apr 28, 2013 12:50 PM CDT

(Newser) – Bipolar disorder sent Linda Logan on a terrifying journey in her thirties. A budding writer and mother of three, she was hospitalized several times with the illness and found herself losing all sense of identity. "I was stripped of my identity as wife, mother, teacher, and writer and transformed into patient, room number, and diagnosis," she writes in the New York Times Magazine. She feared that her cocktail of psychotropic drugs might alter her personality even further. But doctors said little when she tried to discuss her vanishing self; they just focused on her symptoms.

Gradually, Logan improved and returned home, where she rediscovered her maternal identity and got back into writing. Now divorced and turning 60, she helps run a support group for people with mental disorders. But she argues that psychiatrists ignore the importance of identity, which shifts from "person" to "patient" during mental illness and can take years to reconstruct. Still, she believes that her old self has survived intact. "I'm having a small party to celebrate my ingathering of selves," she writes. "My old self was first to RSVP." Click for the full article. (Or look at nine celebrities who cope with bipolar disorder.)

A woman with bipolar disorder looks out on the world.
A woman with bipolar disorder looks out on the world.   (Shutterstock)
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