Oh, how we love to classify things, organising our world into neat little boxes.
But then along comes the mule.
There were those zoologists, secure in the knowledge that they’d classified horses and donkeys as separate species, then they turned their backs for a minute and – what do you know? – a male donkey gets it on with a female horse and, around a year later, out pops an in-betweeny, a mule.
Now, I’ve clearly led a sheltered life, as while researching this, I learnt that the opposite, er, coming together of a female donkey and a male horse (you are keeping up, aren’t you?) can lead to a rarer offspring, known as a ‘hinny’.
The thing is, our neat classification systems often break down, and insisting that everything has a box, and that everything must be in its box, can mislead us at times.
I thought of this during a fascinating exchange with some people who supposedly all have bipolar disorder.
Although their experiences had much in common, there were whole chunks which were completely different from each other.
When you face your own challenges with mood, it’s tempting to believe that someone else who’s gone through similar times will know exactly how you feel.
But very likely they won’t, and can’t.
That’s why it’s so, so important to use your best efforts to make sense of your own feelings.
Others can definitely help, but when it comes to true understanding, there’s only one real expert, and that’s you.