Monday, January 19, 2015

When NIMROD was a compliment.

My friend, Alycia
“Since he was the greatest hunter in the world, his name became proverbial.  People would say, ‘This man is like Nimrod, the greatest hunter in the world.’”  Genesis 10:9  (NLT)

When you hear the word Nimrod you probably conjure up words like foolish or idiot.  How did a word like this change its meaning from a great hunter to an idiot?  That doesn’t really matter for my story, but if you’d like to know how it changed look it up.

In the same way, how a word is used can change the meaning as well.  Take for example, bipolar.  I’m sure you’ve heard this come out of well-intentioned mouths before.  He is bipolar.  It seems innocent enough, but think about.  You don’t say he is cancer or she is Down Syndrome as if you are describing the persons attributes like he is artistic or she is athletic.    Several mental health diagnosis are expressed in this way.  We all know bipolar disorder is part of that person just like nearsightedness, but that nearsightedness doesn’t conjure up negativity like bipolar does.  When we say she’s bipolar we make it be the main thing that person is. 

When we hear the word bipolar we think of words like poor decision maker, depressed, manic, irresponsible, unreliable, foolish, and so on.  So if someone says he’s bipolar our first thought is all of those bad things that could happen and we immediately make those words be that person.  I know several people with that diagnosis and these are some of the words that come to mind:  fighter, compassionate, resourceful, loving, forgiving, understanding ….

I think of my friend, Alycia.  She is one of those people that you instantly like.  Kind, caring, compassionate, understanding…She has bipolar but it is not her.  It defines her only in the sense that it has made her a better person because of her experiences with dealing with it.  Just like someone having cancer has to watch for signs of the cancer returning, so she has to watch for signs of a manic or depressive episode coming.  When I first heard that she has bipolar disorder I thought, WOW!!  You see, I was one of those people that had often labeled someone that had bipolar with all of those negative things attached to it.  Until we see someone with bipolar or other stigmatized disorders as people first and foremost things will never change.
So the next time you're sharing your child's diagnosis with someone say "has", not is and the next time you hear someone is bipolar, think "has" and be amazed by them.
Prayer:  Lord, help me to look past the various negative symptoms of disorders and see the person first and foremost.  Help me to encourage them and learn from them.  Lastly, help me to advocate for them. 

Ann Gapinski
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  1. I always learn from your posts. Thank you.

    We humans always tend to look at the weakness of another. Is it to check that we are all the same? Our fear that maybe other people could be better than us that we look for the wrong in them too? I don't know. But I hope that day would come that we can all look beyond the negative and disorder and see each other the way our Creator made us.

    1. Thank you for your kind words SuperLux. I am intrigued by your online name!