Have you ever had one of those days where you feel like you’d be better off going back to bed? You know—the one where you’re buried in paperwork, the sink is clogged and your spouse just used your $40 tweezers to pull a staple out of the wall? Of course you have.
Perhaps you’ve found a way to take the edge off—maybe a glass of wine or a moist snack cake. Personally, I prefer to unwind after a harrowing day by flipping through the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. More commonly known as the DSM (not to be confused with the DMV, which has its own unique collection of mental cases), this tantalizing tome produced by the American Psychiatric Association is the how-to manual of hypochondriacs and former beauty pageant contestants everywhere.
Here are a few examples that illustrate why just a couple minutes of reading can change one’s entire outlook on life. I hope you’ll find it useful.
1) Intermittent Explosive Disorder: Symptoms include frequent and often unpredictable episodes of extreme anger or physical outbursts. While I typically shy away from confrontation, even this mild-mannered gal has her limits. Consider the great laundromat episode of 1996, during which I nearly got myself into a hair-puller with a greedy and impatient dryer nazi. On the upside, that particular event resulted in Mr. Weenie’s brisk installation of a washer/dryer in our house before the next load of laundry built up in the basket. Win-win.
2) Shared Psychotic Disorder: Generally thought to affect only Scientologists and the Bush administration, this insidious disease has grown in recent years to include iPhone users, home schoolers and the cast of Jersey Shore.
3) Dissociative Fugue: The primary feature of this disorder is abrupt travel away from home, an inability to remember important aspects of one’s life, and the partial or complete adoption of a new identity. In addition to the melodic reference, I like this one because it brings to the forefront my decision to adopt a new identity as that of a hotdog.
The following are less-common disorders, but I swear I’m not making them up:
4) Capgras Delusion: The Stepford Wife of mental disease, this doozy involves believing that someone has been replaced by a monster who looks exactly like that person. Usually occurring in someone who already suffers from another psychological disorder (duh), they might even think a loved one or friend has been replaced by an identical impostor robot. Though he blames me for it, my husband suffers from this disorder on a fairly regular basis. Monthly, even.
5) Alien Hand Syndrome: Also known as Dr. Strangelove Syndrome, this neurological disorder is characterized by a person’s hand seeming to take on a life of its own. In my case, the condition presents itself as an inability to resist stealing fries off of someone else’s plate.
6) Exploding Head Syndrome: The presumably unpleasant experience of hearing a deafening, explosive noise within one’s own head; often brought on by envisioning Sarah Palin in charge of national security or a fourth grade geography class.
Now, after reading the descriptions above, how many of you would redefine your “bad day” as simply below average? Call me crude and unfeeling, but nothing says “it could be worse” quite like reading about a good case of Urophagia. Sure I lost my job today and my husband ran off with a carnie, but at least I didn’t drink my own pee, for God’s sake.
* This post was not meant to insult those who suffer from severe mental illness. While I fall somewhere along the lower end of the spectrum for various disorders, I understand that certain people have much more serious challenges. It was in the spirit of fun and self-awareness that I wrote this post. Therefore, any malicious comments will be either edited or deleted. So there.