Family Diagnostician

Treatment is often simple once a diagnosis is made. Getting an accurate diagnosis when something internally has gone awry can be the most illusive part of maintaining health.

Well into this just-passed winter, having been housebound for weeks, I spoke to my daughter Josi who lives in Ithaca, New York. She was taking in my tenuous mental state and said, “Mom, I know you have cabin fever, but…” Cabin Fever!! There is a name for this condition! My fingernail claw marks on the wall notwithstanding, I thought “Yippee, I’m not irreversibly insane. I have Cabin Fever!” It really helps to have a name for what you suffer. I hadn’t heard the term used up here on the mountain ever, but I mentioned my condition to some of my friends. By the end of the winter everyone seemed to be using the term to explain themselves. It was the standard diagnosis for our general state of anxiety and insanity. Go Josi.

Today I was talking to her about my excitement over spring, my garden and mountain life – ignoring the subject of real problems over creating a viable livelihood from here that the harsh winter had caused me to confront. I know Josi well enough to ask when there is a short silence, as there is usually precious wisdom to be mined from the questioning that might not be freely offered otherwise. I said, “What do you think?” She said, “You sound like an amnesiac in bliss.” She went on to explain her years of observation after living in Chicago, and now Ithaca. The winters will make even the brightest person turn dull, depressed and sometimes suicidal but just one whiff of spring and everything is instantly forgotten. She explains that the only reason anyone can STAY in those towns is the sudden onset of amnesia in spring. Before spring no one can gather themselves up to leave because they are too depressed, and after spring hits memory is erased.

Josi regularly makes me laugh the kind of laughter that happens when a deep nerve of truth has been hit and the only response is to explode with delight at the revelation. She is working on her doctorate in Art History at Cornell, but I told her that she could have a side career providing diagnoses for psychologists. Maybe she and I can team up. I’m actually pretty good at helping people work with their demons and disturbances; with a gifted diagnostician to call upon this could become a family practice.

4 Responses to “Family Diagnostician”

  1. Josi Says:

    ACTUALLY, its architectural history. Diagnosis #2 for the day. 🙂

    • Tayria Ward Says:

      Sheesh, I’m useless. When I called it Architectural Preservation in an article you corrected me, so I thought I got it right this time, I knew I had it somehow wrong in my head. I have to let you know that when I listen to Hannah talk, who is a really bright child and will be 3 in two weeks, I realize for you to tell Grandma “Actually it’s called a refrigerator” on your third birthday was exceptionally advanced for your age. You have to try to be patient with the rest of us.

  2. Anne Didier Says:

    Hi, am looking forward to seeing you on the 18th. Comment on “Cabin Fever.” All my life I have heard, awe, you just got cabin fever. Every time we had a long winter or a time of inclement weather I would hear those words. I have spent my life in the Hendersonville area, so maybe it has been a localized comment. Love, Anne

    • Tayria Ward Says:

      Hi Anne, I’m looking forward to seeing you too! I’ve heard the term cabin fever all my life in a variety of ways, but somehow had never applied it to what I was experiencing as a real mental illness during those weeks. It just never occurred to me. It’s like one of those names for diseases out there that don’t apply to you. Then you get something and someone has to figure out which one of the diseases it is… like that.

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