On feeling up and down

Reading this I wonder about psychological diagnostics as a whole: like, where exactly is the line? When is something a temperament, and when is it a mental disorder? To me it almost comes down to linguistics, really - going to check with Oxford Dictionary what exactly a "temperament" is, and then comparing that to... well, whatever.

I know several - if not to say many - high-drive, creative people; the sort of people that make things happen and then a whole bunch of other people go, "Wow, this is awesome...". I fit in with them. I consider myself, oh to be so self-important, one of them.

And I also know that some of them - if not to say many of them - have what some would call "battles with their demons", whatever that "demon" part is, which is to say, every now and again they get down. Some even get very, very down. Like, for a whole while down. Some have been officially labelled bipolar (which is, I think, the new word to "neurotic"), some with ADHD.

But what I don't exactly understand is the fear towards those diagnoses. I mean, when I go through creative periods when not only my productivity is up but also how nice of a person I am to be around, I don't see anyone questioning if I have a mental illness or another - if anything, people go "Yesh!" and come along on whatever adventures I'm on. And so to me, down times look like, well, the other side of that same coin.

And though I can definitely see the benefits of labelling from a health insurance point of view (if something gets labelled an illness then it also allows access to therapy and medication) I feel a little lost about the "illness" part of things. Illness as in, when body isn't at its top health.

I once read, and I'm sorry I can't link to it any more because I don't remember who it was or where it was from, but there was a person who's been diagnosed with bipolar disorder and she said she is, for one, grateful that she is neurotic rather than simply depressed because being neurotic means she gets both lows and downs. And whilst she's down, it sucks, big time; but then again, whilst she's up, it's like the best feeling ever. The work she gets to do then is ah-may-zing.

(And I bet you $20 that if you've ever gone to see a play in a theatre or a movie or an exhibition or read a book that's left you wide-eyed and feeling, "Wow, this work was amazing!", chances are, whoever made it would probably be classified with some sort of a mental disorder if they went to a shrink's office. By no means every one of them, sure - but many.)

But this lady also said that as much as she hates the feeling of low, she hates taking her drugs because drugs soften up everything: they make her lows more tolerable, but they also take away her highs. And without her highs and that identity of being that wonderful, creative person - what's really left of her, if drugs were to take away that?

And I get that. I get her.

And so to me, when someone tells me about some crazy wonderful person who does such amazing work and is such a party to be around/with - design, journalism, music, whatever - I almost by default, in my head, add to that image that chances are, sometimes that person will be a total b*tch or an a$$hole, too.

A fact of life, really. Sort of like living up on this hill with these sweeping views and accepting the fact that the closest place to buy food is a 25-minute drive away and that even when it's reasonably windy in Christchurch up here I'll have bed sheets fly off a washing line and into the gutter, until I go and put them all in front of a log burner because I just can't be bothered pinning something down with 20 washing pegs. I think I have something like 60 washing pegs in total, so that would allow me to put up, what, three bed sheets?

Okay, gotta go, baby's up!


  1. You and I have the same monsters. http://shakeyourshoes.wordpress.com/2013/07/21/my-favorite-monsters-part-1/

  2. Anna! Thank you for sharing this, because I haven't seen your blog before and having read it now (went all the way to the bottom, favorite place is stories about Bob ;)) I really like it. A good read. Really.

    And I'd like to read more about mosters. Have you got any more?

  3. Yes )) they are coming )). Glad you liked it - I enjoy very much reading your blog and sometimes feel like you're writing out of my head.