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Saturday, May 17, 2014

Out of the closet and into the open

In my previous post I started to talk about the problem of disclosing one’s mental problem to other people. It was rather unsuccessful because somehow I ended up starting (!) to reflect on the meaning of the statement of Nietzsche  - ““The belief in truth is precisely madness”. (some thoughts are on

But that’s a thing with quotes like this: a simple sentence can lead to the whole stream of thoughts. As Nietzsche himself commented on the process: “A certain musical disposition of mind comes first, and after follows the poetical idea.”

You see? Here I am again into Nietzsche.

But telling to other people about one’s diagnosis is madness in itself, isn’t?

Let me try to explain.

A few people who know about my little secret (not anymore, obviously, after I started this blog) ask me sometimes the following question:

“How is your bipolar disorder?”

I have to say that for a moment or so I am lost in ideas about my answer. With such obvious figures of authority as bosses, psychiatrists and colleagues, the reply is easy: “It is doing all right.”

But on occasions when I am not dealing with the mighty I try to answer differently, in the like of: “It is on holiday”, or “I left it at home” (a no, no if the question comes from a psychiatrist), or “recovering from a hangover”. I can’t say it to my mom, because then follows half an hour conversation about whether I am still on my pills (yes – mad doesn’t equal being stupid), whether I sleep well (yes) and whether I am not overspending my money (mhh).

But while this kind of reaction is to be expected from my mom (of course, she worries), I noticed that talking to other people about my bipolar disorder in abstract terms tends to confuse them (they, obviously, forget about the formulation of the question in the first place).

I can see it in their faces. There is a moment of silence or so, followed by either more silence (these people then never ask me this question again), or by a joke from those who do have some humour.

And this leads me to the following deliberation. How should I look at my bipolar disorder? Is it a she? A he? It? Or an entity in a totally different dimension? Indeed, can it be abstract?

Because you see, when someone asks me about how my bipolar disorder is doing, an image of the Ten of Wands comes into my mind. Ellen Dugan describes it in the following way:

“An old man is travelling away from us and down a dirt path towards a castle. He is carrying a bundle of ten blooming hawthorn wands over his left shoulder. The old man is slightly hunched over, as if his burden is just a tad too heavy for him to manage.” (Witches Tarot by Ellen Dugan).

So, I decided to unburden this lot and give my bipolar disorder a name! It might confuse the other voices in my head, but on the other hand, I might end up with quite a cheerful crowd.

After some thoughts on the matter I decided to name it ‘Hamlet’. I went first for Pythoness (an oracle from Delphi) but decided against it, because apparently she was prone to talk some gibberish, and if I face this problem every time I call her name, I might indeed end up in that place (the psychiatric hospital).

So, Hamlet it is. I think that one of his lines does describe the matter quite well:

"I essentially am not in madness,

 But mad in craft."


Joanna Palfreeman said...

Absolutely loving the blog Ekaterina! I myself find it very amusing that if i am having a good day (when my anxiety is not as active) then i am apparently "cured" or that everything perceived as "negative" - a bad mood, an impulse purchase, an emotional outburst - it is down to my "mental" disorder. My Dad affectionately refers to me as "Nutter" - humour from your nearest and dearest is entirely appropriate and helps with acceptance but then again - we are all "mad" - just in varying degrees! xxx

Joanna Palfreeman said...

Absolutely loving the blog Ekaterina! I myself find it amusing when i am having a better day (when my anxiety is not as active) that people i know think i must be "cured" when like you say - it has just taken a vacation or having a little snooze but that anything perceived as negative behaviour - a bad mood, an impulse buy, an outburst of emotion is chalked up to my "mental state"! We are ALL mad - just to varying degress! Now - i must go and think of a name to give my anxiety! xxx

Ekaterina said...

Joanna, you are the bravest! I get something like 50 clicks a day on that blog, but obviously, everyone is trying to figure out the degree of my madness:)
thank you for loving my blog:)

Ekaterina said...

and you are right, we are all mad to one degree or another.
I am thinking now of a pet name for my anxiety:) lol