By Any Other Name

Language is the House of Being —Martin Heidegger

handmade cards, collage art

I spent the day paying attention to how I name things.  Specifically, my illness.  I’ve decided cycling doesn’t really fit my flavor of bipolar disorder, at least not at present.  And describing my day as good or bad isn’t helpful.  I need a new vocabulary.

So, I’m going to try some new terms, ones that will carry less judgement and limitation, ones that can hold the huge array of symptoms without lining them up on a spectrum, ones that allow for quick movement and change.

Maybe it’s a matter of thickness or mass.  Sometimes the illness feels heavy, like layers of wet wool pressing down on me.  Sometimes it feels lighter, more like cotton candy pulling apart in a sticky goo.

Maybe, as Stephen Fry suggests, weather vocabulary would be useful.  Barometric pressure plummets.  There’s freaky, baseball-sized hail and squalls.  Layers of clouds slide over each other with the sun just out of sight.

What happens if I say I’m thick at the moment?  Or that my brain is storming?  It may not help others understand my experience any better, but it gives me a different perspective.  Instead of looking to the horizon for that mythical stable period, I’m living in the moment, dealing with all the ways my mood and mind shift, then shift again.  A new vocabulary shines more light on this movement and the moments of sanity they contain.

This is play, but serious in a way.  How we label things, how we speak of them, creates reality.  To tell someone I’m having a bad day hammers a nail through that definition and fixes it to my consciousness.   I only see my day as bad now, not how it changes.  It’s never that simple.

10 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. littlesundog
    Dec 10, 2012 @ 21:17:02

    I like the idea of “weather vocabulary”. It is ever changing… and kind of exciting! Of course I know those darned little black clouds are bound to show up from time to time… and even a giant cumulonimbus looms just ahead every now and then. I’m always looking for the warm, sunny days ahead… and even a gentle shower from time to time! Nice post Sandy.


  2. Kim
    Dec 10, 2012 @ 21:25:44

    You’re so right, Sandy. The words we use to label ourselves or our feelings really do have impact. I think you may be on to something with the weather terminology.

    I’ve been reading some of your past posts since Lori re-blogged about your meeting. I just wanted to come by and leave you a note of encouragement for the struggles you’re having right now. It doesn’t seem like much to leave a blog comment, but I hope it helps you to know we’re all out here rooting for you. {{Hugs}}


  3. dutifullybroken
    Dec 10, 2012 @ 22:34:21

    I took to using the language of motion. A slow day versus a fast day. Speed can be altered and adjusted. Most people understand without attaching much connotation. When I’m centered, I say I’m cruising.


  4. Kathryn McCullough
    Dec 11, 2012 @ 16:32:38

    I think you’re onto something vocabulary. What we call something makes all of the difference. And when ones mood is shifting, language can become an archor of sorts. Sorry to be so far behind on my blog reading. I’ll catch up in a decade or so, I promise. LOL


  5. Morbid Insanity
    Dec 18, 2012 @ 12:17:12

    It is a very interesting option! I liked this.


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