Seriously, don’t you think this dude has the best name a barrister could have? I love it!
Names are important, aren’t they? I feel quite miffed if someone consistently mis-spells my name in real life (I get far less miffed if someone mis-spells “Dysthymia” – even my spellchecker struggles with that one!). In my twenties I broke up with a fellow who couldn’t get my name write after a few dates. If you value me, you’ll know how to write my name down, goddammit!
Recently, I’ve been thinking a lot about the names psychiatrists have put on my mental illness. I’ve been thinking about how my psyche shows ways of being “less than whole” in ways which can’t be fully explained by my latest formal diagnoses (major depression with melancholia; dysthymia; generalized anxiety disorder). In particular, I’ve been thinking about the way my mood moves, and the moderately compelling evidence of a fractured sense of self.
However, I’ve decided not to get bogged down with diagnoses. The only one I hope they’ve got right is the fact that I am actually ‘monopolar’ depressed, and not somewhere on the bipolar spectrum; if the latter, than a different medication regime is indicated – but, let’s face it, I’m now up to five psychiatrists who have looked at that one, and their results have been unanimous (though a small part of me wonders whether perhaps I just tell them what I want them to hear …).
On Tuesday, I suggested my psychologist and I refer to whatever’s quirky about my mind and brain as “the black box”. My undergraduate work was in physics, and physicists do love that term! We’ve decided that however we might label those “differences”, what’s most important is to understand what triggers them, and how best to respond.
Speaking more generally, psychiatric labels themselves are problematic to me. Take the diagnosis of depression. One depressed person might lose their appetite and suffer insomnia; another might eat more and sleep longer hours than usual. I don’t think there are many diagnoses in general medicine which would so blithely wear contradictory symptoms like that!
So much for names, and diagnoses, and labels. As I type this, it’s Friday morning. I hope that wherever you are in the world, your Friday starts well and continues well!