I love what I do for a living, though it does mean a significant part of my time spent with fingers on keyboard and eyes on screen.  With my recent move to a new location, I’m still figuring out my new workspace and how to arrange it in an ergonomically correct manner.  Meanwhile, carpal tunnel syndrome is rearing its rather ugly head.  I’m keeping it at bay with a combination of acupuncture, osteopathy, massage and yoga, each of which has led me to interesting discoveries about human anatomy and mind-body connections.  I have newfound respect for the spleen and its function as a barometer of worry; for how wrist pain can be displaced neck pain; for how certain yoga postures can help clear the meridians in our bodies and allow energy to flow more freely; for how the well-placed massage move can ‘un-stick’ a knot and release pent-up tension.  These realizations have application beyond the ‘syndrome’ that first led me on the discovery process.

This makes me want to re-think the term ‘syndrome,’ which, let’s face it, almost always has negative connotations.  I recently opined about another ‘syndrome’ with which I’ve been diagnosed: Raynaud’s Syndrome, a circulatory issue that, when temperatures dip, causes decreased blood flow to fingers and toes, making them cold and numb and sometimes immobile – which is why you might see me wearing gloves on even a warm-ish day (“What’re those?” she asks, not having experienced one in eons).  In looking up causes and cures, I learned that this condition is also sometimes called Raynaud’s Phenomenon.

Phenomenon!  Who wouldn’t want to be labeled as a phenomenon rather than a syndrome?  A phenomenon sounds so tantalizing, so extraordinary, so worthy of observation and study!  A syndrome, on the other hand, sounds like an ailment, an affliction, a disorder.  One is tempted to run away from, disregard, or deny a syndrome.  Or … let it define them and restrict their options.  None of these reactions seems particularly productive or optimism-inducing.

Imagine what a different approach we’d take if we were to re-frame ‘syndromes’ or other ‘disorders’ as phenomena?  We might find ourselves fascinated by conditions like dyslexia, ADHD, and autism, and wonder what these conditions allow rather than limit.  We might get curious about what presents as an ailment or affliction might reveal about what is commonly accepted as normal or ordinary.  We might wonder about what feelings of  discomfort or discontent are signaling to us about the importance of connections and how we can better tend to those.  We have a lot to learn from syndromes and ‘disorders;’ that becomes more compelling if we think of them as phenomena worth being fascinated by.

Speaking of syndromes, my next Sidecar Salon takes the ‘imposter syndrome’ head-on.  With my special guest Dr. Debra Lane, and with the active engagement of salon participants, we’ll get really curious about what presents as an ‘affliction,’ and consider ways to turn it into a subject worthy of awe.  Who are these imposters, why do they show up, and how we can get them on our side?  We’ll schedule this in August, in time to get your imposter up to speed for the new school year. 

Yours in turning aversion into fascination,

Bridget

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