Daily Archives: April 1, 2013

Lost in Translation

Lately I’ve been having a lot of trouble expressing exactly what is going on with me because I haven’t been able to find just the right words to describe what is happening.

When I have a headache, it is easy to say, “my head hurts.”

When I’m sitting under a crashing wave of depressive symptoms, the best I can seem to come up with is, “I don’t feel good.”

You see, it isn’t that what I’m dealing with hurts in the same way as my head hurting during a headache, but at the same time what is happening is hurting me.

I know I’m not the only one who uses the “I don’t feel good,” or “I am not feeling well” tactic as an attempt to communicate the presence of bipolar symptoms. To me this seems like a statement that makes sense, given the fact that it is what I’m feeling that is the problem… but these statements are already used on a regular basis to describe feeling ill. In fact, if I said to someone, “I don’t feel good” they would probably immediately think I might have the flu or food poisoning or something. More physical symptoms.

So what, then, for my psyche? How am I supposed to proceed?

I’ve switched to saying, “I’m having bipolar symptoms,” which isn’t much better at describing what I’m feeling and attempting to cope with, but it has made things much more clear about what is going on overall.

I think this relation of symptoms is so difficult because:

A) not everyone has felt these symptoms, so unlike a stomach ache it isn’t a universally understood and easily empathized malady, and

B) the moods and feelings happening at any given time can be specific only to that time, and might make me feel a very specific way.

For example, if I were just to say that I was feeling depressed, to me that only covers a certain amount of time I am actually dealing with depression. Depressive symptoms can make me feel desperate, or lonely, or unmotivated, or any number of other things, but I only really feel depressed when hopelessness (as an example) is present.

By starting with, “I’m having bipolar symptoms,” I can follow with, “and I feel hostile.” (Or any number of other things I could be feeling at the time). This relates what I am feeling, and why I am feeling it, making it easier to understand for others.

There might be times when I don’t feel like elaborating on exactly what I’m feeling, if I don’t know the person I am with very well, or if my symptoms are particularly alarming (as happens from time to time). In those cases I just say, “I am having bipolar symptoms, and I need to lay down.” (Again, or any number of things I might need to do to help myself get through it).

Being able to convey what I am experiencing in a way that makes sense to others as well as myself can help me get what I need to get through it, and can help others understand what is going on. I’m hopeful that with this new method of expressing what is going on I can make things easier for everyone involved.