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.

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