Given the definition of compensate – to reimburse – I thought decompensate might mean something along the lines of having your disability payments taken away. You might say something like “Social security just decompensated me, now what am I going to do?” or “Bipolar disorder decompensated me, and now I have no money to pay the bills.”
The therapist explained that decompensation is what occurs when everything you’re doing to prevent a mood episode (to compensate for the illness) just isn’t enough.
When I mentioned to Dr. Fink that I had never heard the word, she said I must be a big dummy. Well, she didn’t actually use those words. Here’s what she really said.