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More on “Emotional Health,” Part Two…

Musing  a bit on madness…

Actually, the words “mad” and “madness” are quite commonly and innocently used in England.

Just here, in North America, there’s an aversion to it.

It’s time we reclaimed them, as gays and blacks have reclaimed the words that accurately describe them.

Frankly, I love the term. I love the fact that all of Shakespeare’s “fools” and “jesters” ~ often considered “mad” ~ were the only characters in his canon to speak the truth.

“Manic Depression” was changed to Bipolar Disorder by psychiatrists ~ to soften the sting out of this ancient and more accurate descriptive term.

Bipolar is a ridiculous and meaningless term…

What does it really mean? It doesn’t change the reality of living with severe, sometimes profound mood swings.

There are so many problems with the term “mental”, including a “them and us” attitude that will prevent progress in changing the perceptions of people about those of us who happen to live with emotional health issues, including mental health issues and addictions.

And who doesn’t?

Language matters. It’s powerful and political. And I don’t like political correctness. I like honesty.

What I am simply trying to do is look at life through a more encompassing lens. I am not sick right now, though I definitely have a mood disorder ~ unipolar and demanding stabilizing medication.

At the same time, I’m in Recovery. An alternative to the “medical model.” That doesn’t mean I don’t have changeable moods or a fierce temper. It doesn’t mean I’m not emotional. It simply means that my personality, my emotional life, is who I am. It’s the embodiment of me. I’m like no one else. Neither are you.

I’m reminded of one of my favourite Groucho Marx quotations, one he sent to the Friar’s Club in Beverly Hills in 1959 and prefaced by “Please accept my resignation:

“I don’t want to belong to any club that will accept people like me as a member.” ~ Groucho Marx

I don’t feel I must belong to a classification or group. I’m happy to be me, though in all honesty, it’s taken me years to be able to say that and feel that way. Now, I like my passion and that’s part of my emotional profile.  I’m certainly not classically corporate, but who would want to be.

I’m not easy, but that’s the way I am. I do not see my moods as a medical issue, but rather, as my unique emotional complexion. After more than 51 years of psychotherapy, swallowing enough drugs to stock a pharmacy, plus two courses of electroconvulsive “shock” therapy, 20 hospitalizations for mania and too many psychiatrists to count, I haven’t really changed. I’m still the person I was at 12. Emotional and somewhat histrionic.

My nickname as a child was Sarah Bernhardt

Julie is absolutely right when she writes about my psychiatric history.

I am and have since the age of 12 seen psychiatrists. I have lived with a serious psychiatric challenge, on many occasions I was very ill. However, I’ve grown and changed and learned so much with my  psychotherapy. Not medication. That nearly killed me.

Drugs, for me, at best, are tools ~ never solutions. They hit the monkey, not the organ grinder…

For too long, we, those of us with psychiatric histories have been marginalized ~ or what’s even sadder, we marginalize ourselves. I refuse to do that.

I say, no more. Everyone is emotional. Emotions are feelings that drive our moods. The chemical imbalance theory is just that ~ theory that has never been proven.

I choose not to stay on the margins but to join all humanity and accept that we all have emotions and moods. How and if we act out, is another story. We can learn to harness those emotions and get behind those moods. With medication and therapy.

You can change, you know. Anything you want, if you open your mind to it…

We all can change and grow and learn. There are no insights inside a pill bottle. Only drugs that numb. I say, face your demons and work them out, if you so choose. When I’m a little high, and I can tell, I can take a specific drug, but what helps me most is sleep. I have learned to prevent my mood from going out of control, and it’s taken years and years of work.

Moods change. After all, what is a mood? A temporary state or feeling? In the thesaurus, moods and feelings are interchangeable.

But our emotions are what drive our behaviours and influence the way we see the world around us.

With learning and education and self-knowledge and self-awareness and help ~ in whatever form it takes and with whomever will listen intelligently and actively ~ with their ears, eyes and heart ~ we can change the way we see things, see ourselves, see our worlds.

So, on this subject of moods and emotions ~ some we simply have to agree to disagree. I can see where some people are coming from and accept the way they feel. Change isn’t easy.  I hope, in time, to see a more open approach to language and the way it colours our way of seeing the world and ourselves. Especially, on the subject of psychiatric labelling which is more for the benefit of insurance and drug companies than the patients who must live with those labels.

Regardless of how you see yourself, for me, health is as much emotional as it is physical. We are both.

We are packaged-deals ~ emotional and physical ~ and the two are linked…

As for cancer, it is 20,000 different diseases. Most physical illnesses are because they differ slightly in every case.

This is a subject I hope to explore much more. And especially, the “language of respect.”

Speak soon,


More on “Emotional Health,” Part Two…

Sandy Naiman

Sandy Naiman is a Toronto freelance journalist.

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APA Reference
Naiman, S. (2011). More on “Emotional Health,” Part Two…. Psych Central. Retrieved on September 15, 2019, from


Last updated: 26 Mar 2011
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