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The psychiatrist leaned forward as she asked, her legs crossed, her expression giving me the impression of one who is in the process of chain-smoking while awaiting a subway train.

I’m sorry, what? My “mooooood,” (for that was how she said it)? I did not know what to answer. It meant about as much to me as “how’s your penis?” or, “whatcha know?” or, “how’s the moon?” Looking back, I guess I’d say my mooood, at the moment, was hirrrritated. That question could only come from someone who had no idea what she was asking.

I was on Effexor at the time. Then and since, I’ve had a problem with the word, mood. I think of a mood as a passing thing, coming and going like clouds over the sun or waves on the ocean; that is, everyone’s sun, everyone’s ocean. Not mine.

What is mood? A current attitude toward the world? A snarky comment curling about your brain? A jumping and laughing, a reaching for the sky while others look on, dumbfounded? A dull fuzz that covers everything? An irresistible desire to dispense hugs like toilet paper?  The moment of “ouch” after stepping on a rock because your shoe has fallen off, only, for a protracted period of time? Vertigo?

While I was cogitating on this, the psychiatrist wagged and tapped her feet.

“Uhh…” I said, stricken stupid. I had no answer for her, and perhaps it was then that I first recognized some deterioration in my cognitive function. Without recognizing it, of course.

Bipolar is identified as a mood disorder. Maybe I’d be happier if it were defined differently. Maybe it should be defined instead as an emotional disorder. Maybe I think I’m special. Maybe I’d have been happier if she had asked, “How extreme would you describe your epic fluctuations of emotional storm over the past month?”

 

electricity

electricity

How’s my mood? Yes, fluctuating. Of course it is. I’m bipolar. And I was unhappy with my psychiatrist at the time, whom to see I had to drive an hour. I’m sure I eventually began rambling on about some trouble or other in my life, just to fill the void, if not answer the question. I was irritated because her question was not specific enough.

Call me picky, but “mood disorder” doesn’t sound like a debilitating thing when the term is looked at objectively. It just seems trivial. Being bored when I should be excited. Being sad when I should be sympathetic. Being happy when I should be glum. Whatever it is, I’m doing it wrong. And I am trivial because of my inappropriate mood. And that’s exactly (one of) the sort of trap(s) that lead to self-esteem so low that, well, something or other is triggered, at least in me.

I think the emotional rollercoaster of bipolar deserves a better definition than mood disorder. Why? I don’t know. I am a semantics quibbler, been one all my life.  What a fun person, huh. Maybe “emotional disaster disorder”…no, that’s more of a label, not a definition. I thought by writing about it I would understand the word “mood” and why it serves as a topic of conversation with an expensive psychiatrist who has me on the wrong meds to begin with. I certainly seem to lack the faculties to come up with a new definition of bipolar illness here. Maybe that’s not my job, because I’m too self-involved.

But it’s that “everything is my fault” mentality that almost always used to stuff me into that funnel that squeezed out a crawling-in-the-slime creature. I know that soon after that session I either attempted, or made an unworthy bid toward, you-know-what. I don’t even remember when that was or what the issues were. I just remember that the psychiatrist was on the clock, and didn’t want to know how I was doing, she wanted to know “How’s your mood?” simply to see if she needed to adjust the meds on one particular bipolar guinea pig.

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