Language Barrier

We speak, and we speak some more. Some of us even listen. We use English to communicate so it is reasonable to assume that we understand each other. In 'normal' circumstances we don't anyway but Bi-Polar Land goes one step further: it turns some part of what we say into a foreign language that requires translation.

Here are some of the most common examples:

Common words in Standard LanguageTranslation in Bi-Polar Land Language
TiredFrom exhausted to near catatonic
DepressedFrom unable to function to suicidal
EnergeticFrom fast-paced to hypo-manic or right out delusional
AngryFrom destructive to rabidly enraged
SadFrom hopeless to desperate
EnergeticFrom involuntary movement to skin crawling agitation
UnreliableFrom full ability to uselessness in sometimes seconds
UnwellFrom extreme discomfort to the psychiatric ward
Long-termFrom months to a life time

It goes without saying that this awkward linguistic situation has a double negative effect:

  1. It makes it very difficult for us to communicate how we feel to our loved ones (and even to our psychiatrists whom you would expect to be fluent in Bi-Polarese but unfortunately aren't always)
  2. It's near impossible for our loved ones to understand what the heck we are talking about because their language frame of reference is so 'restricted' compared to Bi-Polar Land's extreme linguistic landscape.

So what can be done?  I suggest for every one of us to write a personal version of the mini translation dictionary above and to give a copy to all the poor souls who suffer our condition with us. Add to it as well as personalise the definitions. After all, when we travel abroad we take it for granted that a phrase book is a useful thing to have (even if the Brits have a nasty tendency to shout in English to non-English speakers as if that made a difference!) so why not accept that such a phrase book would be of real help when travelling trough Bi-Polar Land.

I think the Bi-Polar Land phrasebook is born, don't you?

So come on all of you fellow Bi-Polar Land natives out there, let's share your own version of it. Not only will it help our families and friends but it will also extend our own Bi-Polar Vocabulary and as a result our own understanding of the land we live in  :D

language barrier

Oh Gabrielle, this is so true!

some of my own

Can't concentrate = from can't concentrate to reading to can't concentrate to be able to make a cuppa

don't know what to cook = there are many food choices in the fridge but i can't think how to make it into a meal

don't know what to wear = goes beyond the normal realm of female indecesion of not knowing what to wear, as get stared at enough already don't want to wear something that will make people stare even more

I don't want to be intimate = it is nothing to do with you, i just have a heap of crap running around in my brain and i can't switch off from it enough to enjoy being intimate with you

i don't want to have a drink = i become psychotic, so unless you want me to break everything in sight don't offer it to me

stop talking = i love you but my brain can not keep up with a conversation right now

no i don't want to go out = i think that the words "psycho bitch" a printed on my forehead and everyone will see it

clean up this mess = there is enough chaos in my head without me having to step around it all

i love you = please don't leave me, i know i'm crazy, but please keep on seeing the real "me" behind all this craziness

i don't want to answer the phone = it could be anyone from a telemarketer or a non for profit organisation or just plain someone i don't want to talk to and i really don't know what to say to any of them

anyway these are just some of the laungage barriers in our home! thankfully my husband is great bipolar linguist and understands my language (most of the time!)

Your dictionary

YES!!!! I could add all those myself. This is such a brilliant piece of writing - thank you for that Christine  xxxxx

christines post

i can so relate with all those things you posted and it creates alot of stress between my hubby & myself i'm going to be showing this to him! thank you for sharing!!! ive never ben diagnosed bi polor but i have been diagnosed w/chronic depression, agoraphobia social anxiety etc. alot of what you said really hits home again thank!! its hard to find peeps who can relate! ♥

Stress in realtionships

Oh yes Christine! Whether it is BPD or Chronic Depression, the effect on our relationship with our partner is more or less identical. It's TOUGH, for the patient AND for the partner.

I love your phrase "peeps who can relate"  :D xxxxxx

language of bi polarese

Gabrielle... I would like to add to your list the tone of voice used when saying seemingly simple words like No... my no's range from not a good idea to no said once because if i say more I will destroy you and upset you and rage against you

I am tired can mean a few things like I do not know what to do so i will lie down or I am so confused I can not make sense of the world or simply I am exhausted mentally physically and emotionally...

i am fine... nothing is happening to my head is a cacophony of voices telling me all sorts of orders

Taking our tone into account

Cate you are absolutely right! I would not have thought of it but now that you have said it, I will pay more attention to my own tone of voice from now on  :D xxxx

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