Saturday, August 2, 2008

Build Your Parkinson's word power! An Off & On series

As a lover of words, I've found Parkinson's Disease a source of fine specimens. Won't you join me as I hold a few up to the light and admire them?

Here's a beauty: Festination. It's the tag given to the shuffling swish-step that characterizes the typical PWP on a stroll. Your stride shortens, your gait increases, and pretty soon you're a festinatin' fool. It's annoying as hell to actually do, but doesn't it sound fun? Festive?

LEAD SINGER: "Brand new step, sweepin' the nation..."
BACK-UP SINGERS: "What's it called?"
LEAD SINGER: "Just quicken that step and shorten that stride..."
BACK-UP SINGERS "Everyone loves that parkie glide!"
LEAD SINGER "Drive away dull care and frustration..."
ALL: "Everybody do the Festination!"

(repeat until you freeze or fall over)

Do you find that a little overwhelming? Perhaps what you are experiencing is Emotional Incontinence. There is no avoiding a bit of squirming when you encounter this coinage, which refers to a form of depression which involves experiencing episodic rushes of emotion wildly out of proportion to the stimulus. These rushes (for me at least) only occur in the company of others, and only when trying to discuss subjects that are loaded emotionally. It attacked me most often when talking with my son about family history or great musicians. Suddenly my face would screw up, my throat would choke and I would become unable to continue the conversation.

Confession: I enjoyed the cheap thrills this provided for a time. There was a sort of emotional drama that lent the illusion of great depth of soul to my everyday life. Over time it moved from entertaining to incapacitating. When it reached a point where I was getting ambushed by these gusts of sturm und drang with alarming frequency, it was clear it would be too much. So now I take a pill every morning to restore my normal shallow self.

One good thing about emotional incontinence. When you are so overwhelmed that you can't speak, you don't have to worry about Logorreah. Most of you don't worry about this under any circumstance, but I do when my meds are cresting and I spray words, thoughts, and incomplete fragments of both in the direction of innocent helpless persons, most often my wife. Then I have to clean up.

That wraps up this installment, must keep that logorrhea in check! We'll return with other great PD terms soon.