Back on the Chain Gang

Ah, the blissful bubble of  NaNoWriMo is over.  Well, officially it’s over at midnight on November 30th, so I’ve got a day and then some to revel in typing my fingers off.  But let’s face it, I’ve got my 50,000 words and my Winner Certificate, so I guess I’m a Lame Duck WriMo.  And now, although I’m still banging away at it, I’ve come to a really difficult spot in my “novel.”  I’m hoping that putting it to bed for the night will help: let it incubate for a while, or perhaps compost, ferment, whatever gets it going again.

 

I decided to tackle some of the effects of entropy that have turned my living space into even more of a trash heap than it was before.  So I tackled something that just has to be done.  In case you don’t remember, I moved into my dad’s pottery studio.  He’s too sick to use it anymore, and I need a place to live.  It’s been quite an adventure, full of all kinds of challenges and roadblocks.  I’ll have to write a post devoted to the project and where it stands to date, complete with pictures of my electric toilet.  That’s right folks: I have an electric toilet, because this building is perched on the edge of a cliff and there’s no place for a septic tank.

 

Anyway.  Tonight I spent an hour putting my dad’s pottery tools away: you know, all those wonderful little tools he used to use to make his mind-blowing ceramic art.  A lot of them are found objects: a toothbrush handle, a cheese cutter, a rubber spatula.  I separated them according to function and size, and put them all in plastic bags and then into one of those Rubbermaid boxes I can’t live without.  I cried a lot.  I wanted to scream, but it would scare my little dog.  Times like this, I wish she had a temporary “off” switch so that I could just go ahead and scream without having to worry about somebody else’s feelings.

 

Tomorrow I have a busy day.  I won’t get to the next thing on my list, which is wiping the mold off of all my books and putting them in the bookcases, after wiping the mold off the bookcases first.  Yes, you read right:  mold.  The bane of the asthmatic: and I am an asthmatic.

 

You see, it is so humid here, on the cliff above the river, that while I was away for ten weeks resting in the bosom of Jerusalem, the humidity was at work making mold over all of my belongings.  Everything.  Furniture, clothes, even (and I am deeply offended at this) my banjo strap, that I made out of leather in 1974.  Arrrrgh!  One step forward, two steps back.

 

But on the other hand, I’m sitting here wheezing, listening to Queen on Pandora, my little doggie asleep tucked under my right elbow.  I spent the day with my old dad, who was lucid enough today to have a deep discussion about ceramic glaze chemistry.  We both love chemistry.  It’s just that most of the time, his brain refuses to cooperate, so we can’t discuss much and he goes to sleep.  But today was one of those increasingly rare days when relative clarity allowed us to have a rare and precious conversation about some pretty technical stuff.

 

I’d better go take a nebulizer treatment and take my handful of pills so I can get up in the morning and drive to Asheville to see the disability lawyer and my psychologist, now that I’m a certified Nutter.

NaNoWriMo Victory!

Gentle readers, I have done my WriMo duty for a second straight year.  I must shamelessly say that I am very proud of myself.  Even better, when I hit the 50.000 word winner mark, I couldn’t stop, but have kept write on (sic) all evening and am now standing at 51,327 delicious words.

 

It’s a bitter-sweet victory for me to be writing this book.  I’ve been trying to write it for 40 years, but have run into emotional snags like near-psychotic breaks triggered by the flashbacks that I inevitably get when I write the history of the lost and abused little girl I was.  Even now, I have written many words through streaming tears.

 

But this time is different, for some reason.  The words are flowing (as are my tears) and at the end of every writing session I feel liberated, lightened of the load I have carried these 40 years and more.

 

So hip-hip-hooray for me, and I am going to drink a toast now, to Dina Leah and her new life, freed from the bonds of the past.  Now it’s time to incorporate the discipline of NaNoWriMo into my every day writing life, and apply seat to chair for at least two hours a day, as I have for the past month.  And soon, soon (maybe tomorrow) I will restart Dina Leah’s blog, where her story will be available in serial form.  See you there!

Teenage Runaways and Bipolar Illness: Related?

By now most of you know that I split from home when I was sixteen.  I shall not go into the “why” of it here.  That is treated on my “secret blog.”   Anyone who wishes to have access to that blog is welcome to write to me at moxadox@gmail.com, and I will send you the link.

My question for today is: what proportion of teenagers who really run away from home, and by that I mean not just for a day or a few days, but more or less permanently, have Bipolar Illness that is undiagnosed or untreated?  And not only Bipolar, but PTSD from childhood abuse, especially sexual abuse, or schizophrenia, Borderline, Major Depression…mental illness in general.  

My own experience on the streets put me in contact with many fellow runaways.  Most of them had some kind of what I would now categorize as psychopathology that predated their running away.  Certainly running away and the sometimes horrific experiences and conditions that one encounters can do nothing but aggravate any underlying condition.

Runaways are often witnesses to violence, victims of violence and predation, subjected to homelessness and various forms of degradation.  All of these set them up for PTSD, whether this was a precondition of their running away or not.

I have seen kids bullied, either at home or at school, who found the predictable privation of life on the street preferable to life at home or in shelters, where the bullying continues.  Aspergerian kids fall into this category because of their odd appearance and often stereotyped behaviors.  So do overweight kids, or even dyslexic kids because of their difficulties with reading and writing.  Life on the streets does not depend on one’s aptitude for written language, but only on the ability to survive in an environment that uniquely combines routine with chaos.

I myself fell into a number of these categories.  I was terribly depressed, when I wasn’t having bouts of extreme clarity where I found myself deeply engaged in the study of physics; and sometimes, ever since childhood, I emerged from my depressive state into a wild grandiosity, which was sometimes satisfying but mostly disturbing and dysphoric.

I was thoroughly bullied at school for being “weird,” and avoided human contact, interacting with dogs, cats, horses, rodents, birds, reptiles, and amphibians, but not fish, because they always died on me.  I wore sandals and clothes from the Indian store in the nearby city, fragrant with incense.  They rooted for the football team;  I dug roots and made medicines from them.

To these high class bumpkins from rural coastal Massachusetts, who went with their mothers to Daughters of the American Revolution meetings and Order of the Eastern Star while their fathers and sons went to whatever meetings they went to, I was a witch and an outcast.  Their children were not permitted to play with me, and they teased me relentlessly about my differences.

Worse yet, the teachers considered me a distraction in their classes since I dressed differently and even wore my hair differently.  They lobbied to get me out, and finally figured out a way to do it.

Being different in a homogeneous society is considered unacceptable.  Anthropologists have written books about this.  We the bipolar, the borderline, the ADD, the PTSD, the schizophrenic:  where do we fit in?  We don’t.

Many good studies are now looking at the creative and innovative advantage of the “different” brain.  We who have them have always known that; yet we have historically been anathema to society.  I cringe every time there is some kind of random killing or other act of violence and the first thing the press asks is: does the person have a history of mental illness?  This, when there is solid research that shows that the mentally ill have no greater incidence of performing violent crimes than the general population; but we do have a greater tendency to be victims of violent crimes: no surprise there.

I hope the generation of children who are coming up now will find a more welcoming, better informed public in general, and a constructive school environment in particular, so that we don’t have to run away in order to not be abused, and to have to seek a kindred society of “misfits” on the streets.

I am sick of this.

This morning I woke up and stretched out my right hand, and it started shaking as if I were being electrocuted.   No kidding.  I was scared to death.  I drew my hand back under the covers, thinking maybe I had slept on it wrong, except it didn’t feel numb or tingly.  Then I tried it again: I stretched my hand out as if to grab something, and my hand is shaking like a leaf in the wind.  OMG, WTF.  What now?

I have been struggling with a major depression for the past couple of weeks.  I don’t know what happens to my days.  I have all this stuff to do, and none of it gets done.  The bills aren’t paid; I can see them from here, still in their envelopes on the dusty old wire spool that would serve me for a coffee table if I would clear off the propane lantern, the iron, the scrub brush, the pile of catalogs I will never look at, miscellaneous empty jars that I can’t bring myself to throw out/recycle for a variety of lame reasons, and oh yes, the bills.

Part of this depression probably stems from the short days.  I haven’t been able to haul myself out of bed in the morning; I am not a morning person to begin with; my mornings usually begin at eight.  Lately I’m lucky to drag myself out of the rack by ten.  If I let myself, I’d sleep all day.  I really meant, the short days this time of year; but yes, my days are that much shorter because I can’t get out of bed.

Oh, and my attention span has been downgraded from “flea” to “gnat.”

I texted my psychiatrist about the tremor and the depression.  He prefers texting.  I also left him a phone message, because he has his own attention issues and I’ve learned over the twelve years that we’ve been doing this thing together that it’s best to hit him with two different message modes.

He called me after his work day, as I expected he would.  I explained the situation.

“What do you think is the problem?” he asked, as he always does.

“I don’t KNOW what the problem is!” I groan, exasperated.  He always does this.

Then he started going through my meds with a fine tooth comb.  Half an hour later, his feeling was that for some reason, my nervous system just isn’t tolerating the combination of lithium and lamotrigine.  But, since I’m depressed, I can’t take a break from either of them; in fact, I have to increase the lamotrigine by 50 mg.  If I want to, I can take some Propranolol for the tremor.  It’s a beta blocker, lowers blood pressure and gets rid of tremors.

But oh, no, not me, I can’t take Propranolol because I have asthma.  The same mechanism that lowers heart rate and blood pressure can also trigger a fatal asthma attack in susceptible individuals: that would be me.  And even in my depressed state, where ceasing to exist looks pretty good, suffocating to death is not my choice of exit strategies.

My shrink likes me to take an active role in my medication management.  That is why he gives me such a pain in my ass every time I call him for advice.  He is certainly capable of simply telling me what to do; but since I have a chronic illness, he prefers that I engage with the process of disease management.

Frankly, I would prefer it if he just said, “Take more of this, take less of that, try this other thing,” because then I could just go on ahead and not think about the fact that I have this disease, and it is not going to just go **poof** and disappear.

No, I will not wake up normal one morning.  This is a life sentence, without possibility of parole.

It’s Official: I’m Crazy!

Yes, I know I’m writing on the Sabbath again.  It was a choice between that, or taking lethal doses of drugs that I have especially tucked away for the purpose, should the time come when I really can’t bear it anymore.

I went before a federal disability judge today.  He looked exactly the way I saw him in my dream last night: 40-ish, dark haired, looking beneficent in his dark robes.  If he were not so cherubic he might recall the Grim Reaper.

The hearing lasted all of fifteen minutes, quite the anticlimax for a two year span spent gathering a stack of paper charts and reports several feet thick, going to court-appointed mental health examiners, showing up at lawyer appointments, ad nauseam, and for all that not really knowing what the benefit to myself could possibly be.  I have a very nice (thank God) private disability policy that I paid for out of my pocket while I was working, and I had to fight tooth and nail to force the *&^% insurance company to pay up when I got sick, all the while so deep in depression that I could not get out of my chair, let alone fight a battle with an insurance company that would stop at nothing (including surveillance) to keep from parting with their money.  That was in the early years of the 2000’s, and I have been kept not nearly as comfortable as I was when I was working, yet certainly not starving.

And now comes my therapist and starts pushing me to apply for Social Security Disability, mostly because half of my present income goes to paying deductibles and co-payments, and she feels that the Medicare that comes with the SSD would provide substantial financial relief.

I suppose that is true.  I won’t receive more income really, because the private insurance might possibly decrease in proportion to the government payments, which won’t be much anyway because of the twelve years that I was a student becoming a doctor and did not earn enough to pay taxes.  Ironic, that.

But all of that financial stuff is not what has me writing on the Sabbath.

It is the judgement, the final judgement, and the finality of the judgement, that I am mentally disabled.  That I cannot go back to work in the profession I love, that I was so deeply in love with that I sacrificed almost everything.

I am Officially Crazy.

I feel like I should immediately take shopping bags and fill them with dirty clothes and go out on the street with my hair looking wild.

Maybe I should have a scarlet letter “C” tattooed on my forehead.

I’m glad I have an anti-suicide pact with my oldest friend (I wonder if he remembers).  It helps me to stay away from the lethal cocktail.

I wonder, will the news reach the State Medical Board, and will they take away my license?  Even though I haven’t practiced medicine since April 4, 2000, I have carefully maintained my license, religiously racking up the Continuing Medical Education points every year, even though I can no longer afford to go to the snazzy conferences that I used to go to, to learn about all kinds of tips and tricks and topics and shmooze with the colleagues, when they would speak to me: after word got around that I am mentally ill, I found myself shunned by my pediatrics chums so I took up going to surgery meetings instead, where nobody knew me and I could learn in peace.  Ah well, those were the days; they are no more.  I will never practice medicine again.  It has been too long, and the disease and the drugs have taken their toll on my cognition.

I think I’ll just keep on getting drunk tonight.  I have a pretty good start already.  I don’t like being drunk, generally speaking; but I need something to numb the pain, and I don’t dare open a pill bottle.

Crazy Person, good night.

NaNoWriMo Novel Excerpt

Feeling brave today?  Here’s a raw, unedited excerpt from my in-progress NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) novel,  A Runaway Life. Remember, it’s a “Really Shitty First Draft,” so don’t get your red pencils out (mine is twitching like a divining rod, but I’m not allowed to use it till December 1st)!  Comments on the concept welcome!

Background:  Year: 1970.  Dina, a brilliant but depressed 16-year-old, has run away from her East Coast home and ended up in California, where she thought she would find Nirvana.  Instead, she finds herself caught in a downward spiral of homelessness, hunger, and dependance on others for survival.  As of this writing she is living in a detached garage in a down-at-heels working class neighborhood in Santa Maria.  Her new friend Monica lives in the house with her mother; her father has recently left the family.  Here goes!

 

While she was musing over ancient Chinese poetry, she became aware of light footsteps approaching the garage door.

 

“Hi, Dina, are you there?  May I come in?”  It was Monica!  Dina ran to the door and wrenched it open.

 

“Oh, wow, hi!  Come on in,” bubbled Dina.  She had rarely been so glad to see anybody.

 

“Sure, well, do you want to come into the house?  My mom won’t be home for a couple of hours yet.  We can get something to eat and watch TV or something.”

 

Dina walked out into the sunshine, blinking.  She had no idea how long she had kept herself locked up in the garage, but she remembered that it had been cloudy then.  She was glad to see the sun, and had some misgivings about going into the house, but the idea of company and food prevailed.

 

They trooped into the dark kitchen and Monica turned on the light, revealing a white linoleum floor flecked with silver and a 1950’s vintage dinette set that obviously was not purchased as an antique, judging by the corroding chrome and chipped table top, and the split vinyl seat backs revealing their tired grey stuffing.

 

Dina’s heart sank when Monica got the pretzels out, thinking she was going to stop with that; but her spirits soon rose when she saw the Skippy Peanut Butter and Marshmallow Fluff and store-brand white bread come out.  She had always turned her nose up at “Fluffernutters,” as the sticky sweet peanut butter and marshmallow fluff sandwiches were called; but now, so many things were changing; and food was food.  So she thickly buttered a slice of bread with peanut butter, spread the sticky marshmallow “fluff,” which more correctly had the consistency of hide glue, on another, and slapped them together.  Biting into this confection was an experience in slipperiness and stickiness, sweetness and saltiness, held together with the gluey sponginess of the white bread.

 

It was one of two or three times in Dina’s life that she had eaten white bread.  At home, they always made their own, partially for economy’s sake, and partially out of mere snobbishness.

 

Eaten with pretzels, the fluffernutters were quite satisfying.  The pretzels added crunch and more saltiness, which Dina appreciated, since she really wasn’t much on sweets, especially not in sandwiches.  So alternating a salty pretzel every other bite worked out well.

 

“So Dina,” began Monica, after they had munched for a while in silence, “how did you end up out here?  How did you get out of school early?  How did you get your parents to agree?”

 

Those were already more questions than Dina was prepared to answer, or wanted to answer for that matter.  But she made a beginning, and Monica was an eager listener.  She seemed hungry for friendship, and Dina perceived in her a deep sadness that in some ways mirrored her own.  Monica would seem to drift into some far away place, then with an effort she would be back in the conversation.  Somehow, Dina felt, Monica’s cheerfulness seemed forced.

 

Monica changed the subject abruptly.

 

“You ballin’ yet?”

“Huh?” returned Dina, surprised.

“You know, ballin’.  Gettin’ it on.”  She looked at Dina suggestively, raising one eyebrow, leaning into the couch on one elbow.  “Bobby and I been ballin’ already for about a year.”

 

Dina took all of this in and said nothing.  Hmm, “ballin’,” she thought.  I guess that’s what Tracy and I did last night, huh?

 

Before they had time to delve further into the subject, the front door flew open and there was Monica’s mother.   She breezed into the room.

 

“Hello, girls, what are you up to?  Did you have a good day?”  And she swept into the hallway leaving a trail of perfume and cigarette smoke in her wake, without waiting for an answer,

 

“Whew,” whispered Monica, “glad she’s in a good mood.  You never can tell these days—“ CRASH!  The bedroom door slammed shut with such force that a mirror in the hallway fell off the wall and smashed on the floor.

 

“Quick!” squeaked Monica, grabbing Dina by the wrist, “out the back door!  She’s on a rampage!”  And they scrambled out of the house in a panic.

 

“What was that all about?” panted Dina once they were safely outside.

 

“Who knows?  Ever since Dad left, every minute is a crapshoot,” Monica mumbled.  “I never know from one minute to the next what’s going down.  It’s like living in a shooting range, and I’m the moving target.”

NaNoWriMo is strong medicine

This year I pledged to myself that I would take my fictionalized autobiography into a different direction on NaNoWriMo.  True, I’m painstakingly writing a different version of it on my “secret” blog.  I wanted to know what would happen if, instead of lingering, crafting each sentence, scene, scenario, if instead, I just launch into it as a form of automatic writing and just see what comes out.

 

In a word, it’s amazing.  NOT filtering has opened up hitherto locked and dusty rooms in my brain, and all this moldy old furniture comes tumbling out.  I’m very happy to be doing it, even though I write through tears a lot and my sleeves end up slimy with snot because I can’t stop to get more tissues.  The triggers come non-stop and I’m trembling most of the time; yet I keep moving through it.  It’s like watching a horror movie: horribly uncomfortable, yet riveting.

 

Blogging, especially my “secret blog,” is taking a back seat, to some degree.  But oddly enough, I’m having to take time out from NaNo-ing to write sketches of other things that have especially impacted my life.

 

I guess I’m doing NaNo-therapy!

Tears and Fears and Feeling Proud (thanks, Joni)

“Tears and fears and feeling proud

To say I love you, right out loud…”

Clouds, Joni Mitchell

As much as this song has been the soundtrack to my life, so much more now.  My father is failing, day by day.  His mind is eaten full of holes by dementia.  I see the desperation in my mother’s face and for once, I feel pity for her.  And I am frightened by her own lapses, forgetfulness that goes beyond the simple effects of stress and depression that accompany her own slow motion loss.  I wonder for myself, how will I navigate this mine field alone?  There is no choice.  Certainly when the time comes when both of them are completely disabled, I will be able to enlist others from the community.  There is hospice here.  My mother started it, over twenty years ago, because there wasn’t any.  Now it will be ironic to be making use of that service.

 

No one ever thinks that they will be disabled, let alone old and disabled.  So few people make plans for that “in case.”  And yet, as one of my medical school professors put it, those of us who are still walking around with all our limbs intact are only “temporarily able bodied.”  TABs, he called us, from his wheelchair.

 

One day, coming in the door from his day as a medical student, he tripped over the door sill and fell down.  The next day he fell down again.  He kept on falling until he went to see a neurologist and was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis.  He was a second year medical student.   He was 28 years old.

 

He did not quit med school, but kept on going, at first with crutches, then in a wheelchair.  He did his residency in Rehabilitation Medicine.  So when the newly paralyzed, the new amputee, the new stroke patient became frustrated and wanted to say, “But you don’t know what it’s like….!”, they had to shut their mouths and get on with their therapy, for there was Dr. Mitchell in his wheelchair, looking at them and saying nothing, for nothing needed to be said.

 

My father was an exercise freak, in his day; in fact, he still is.  Until he was 83 years old (he just turned 88), he rose every morning at six and did a half hour of cardio exercise and half an hour of weight lifting.  And then he would start his day of throwing around 100 pound sacks of clay and glaze materials, always busy doing something radically physical when not seated at his potter’s wheel turning out exquisite works of ceramic art.

 

Everything he used, he made himself, from small hand tools right down to the potter’s wheels themselves, up to the huge walk-in kilns.  If he needed something made of metal, he welded it.  If he needed something electrical, he wired it.  I grew up that way, too.  He taught me to take lack as a challenge to create.  If I wanted to make a lamp out of a piece of driftwood, I went down to the hardware store, got the pieces that would make a lamp, figured out how to splice wires (they are color coded, it’s not hard), and made a lamp.  I never knew that you “couldn’t” do anything.  It was a matter of not knowing how yet.

 

So to see my father now, standing precariously balanced on his feet, with his arms completely tangled in a sweater that he couldn’t figure out how to put on: well, I can’t even express my feelings of grief and loss and sadness for him as well as for me, because he has lost the man that he built from scratch, and he is cruelly aware of it.

 

He tries hard to be philosophical.  He has always been a philosopher.  He acknowledges that there is no point in fighting it–and then he resolves to do battle with it, and he does, for a moment…then he falls asleep, or becomes disoriented, or gets distracted; and it seems that he has lost yet another rung in the ladder that only ever seems to go down, anymore.

 

But I am proud of him, nonetheless, for trying.  He does get on his exercise bicycle every few days, and there he pedals for a few minutes, and sleeps for a few minutes, and goes back to pedaling.  I made him a seat belt out of a luggage strap, because one time he fell asleep on his bike and fell off and hit his head again, and was tangled up in the pedals and arm rests besides, and my mother had a time getting him out (I wasn’t there).  So now he is very careful to put on his seat belt, because if my mother catches him without it she will give him hell, and he will do almost anything to avoid that.

 

I admit that I am afraid that I too could end up like that.  And even though my mother does give him a hard time, she is there for him.  For me, it will be different.  I have little hope of having a partner, anymore.  So I would be in some kind of “home,” as they say euphemistically.  I don’t relish that idea.  It makes me think about premature endings.  Even worse, it makes me think of being helpless and at the mercy of strangers.  I try to envision Dr. Mitchell looking at my self pity with quiet amusement; then I think about the wife that he comes home to every night and the effect vaporizes.

 

I wish I had a better ending for this post.  I love to end my pieces with something snappy, but tonight, nothing comes up.  I will have to take yet another lesson from my father and when in doubt, just keep putting one foot in front of the other.

Writing For My Life

OK, I admit it.  I’m depressed.  Have been for a few weeks.  It started when I was in Israel, during the High Holidays, when the level of intensity of life in general ramps up to peak levels.  It’s like recording music, if you’ve ever done that.  There’s a meter that measures the intensity of the sound input.  Nowadays it’s a digital bar meter, kind of like what’s on your cell phone.  At the left the bars are yellow: not enough sound for a good quality recording.  In the middle the bars are green:  good.  After that the bars turn red:  too much input, leads to static and lousy sound.  In the old days when those meters were analogue, there was a needle that looked like the second hand on a watch, and it moved through an arc corresponding to the sound input levels.  On each end of the arc was a pin, to keep the hand from falling off the curve.  If the sound intensity was so high that the needle went all the way over to the right-hand pin, all the way to the end of the red, we said that the meter was “pinned.”  All this explanation to say that during the Holidays my intensity meter was pinned.  Big time.

Normally the days and days and weeks  of ecstatic celebratory prayers with my congregation, with our crazy intense rabbi, are enough to kick me into hypomania, where I remain in my giddy hyperstimulated state until crash and burn time, often punctuated with the immensely unpleasant and distasteful “mixed state,” which many of you know all too well.

This time I think the Seroquel made a big difference.  It blunts my experience of emotion.  It keeps me from derailment, but it shuts me down and I can’t get off, emotionally speaking.  I was there, I felt the waves of other people’s ecstatic prayer experiences washing over me like waves at the beach;  I just didn’t get off.  And it was disappointing.  It made me sad.  And the Holidays started feeling like nothing but a lot of work.  Which in itself was not bad;  it just wasn’t what it has been in other years.

And I started slipping, and I have been feeling the yawning maw of the black hole very near.  I have upped my Lamectil, which is the only thing that seems to stand between me and it.

Maybe I’m being hard on myself.  Maybe I’m being unrealistic.  I was, of course, coming off of the dreadful train wreck of a relationship for which I had held high hopes.  I know I’m still mourning for the relationship I thought it was, the one I wanted it to be, the one that it wasn’t.  That’s enough to get anyone down, temporarily anyway.

But now I’m back in beautiful Western North Carolina, with the music of the river lulling me to sleep every night, background music for the heavy sedatives and antipsychotics as they narc me off to sleep.  Without them there is no sleep, just the hours ticking away until the grey dawn brings on nearly full mania, paranoia, delusions, hallucinations and all.

So I’m stuck, really, with the drugs.  I have morbid fantasies of some catastrophic circumstance that might prevent me from having my drugs.  I stockpile them just in case.  Because, dear readers, without them I really would die.  I have come very close in the past.  I really don’t want that to happen.  It would cause too much collateral damage.  And besides, I wouldn’t get to see the end of the movie.

But I have another weapon in my antidepressant arsenal:  I write.  I write like crazy, words just pouring out of my fingers on the keyboard until my hands ache and my butt is numb from sitting writing.

And what am I writing this time?  I am writing my life.  Just writing it down.  Not editing a bit, just writing it as it happened.  I don’t care about an audience.  I have tried to do this time and time again, and each time I get hung up on writing for an audience, which is how I had to write when I had a profession, when I was writing educational materials, presentations, professional stuff.  Not now.  I am writing for my life.  My life depends on it.  I have to get it out of me, into the “paper” of my hard drive, where it can be separate from me and cease to torment me.

My friend R. maintains that anyone who had my life history would be depressed.  I’m not so sure:  I’ve met some people who had much, much more traumatic lives, who were more resilient than I, who have managed to surf above the waves rather than getting sucked down into them.  I don’t know, I don’t like to go with theories of causation of mental illness.  It simply is, and we all have to find our ways of coping, of staying alive and making something of our lives, hopefully, even if that something is “merely” (and I am using Sardonic Voice here) the act of Staying Alive, which is not so simple when all is said and done.

So I am writing for my life.  I want to write myself up out of this hole I’m staring into.  Lord help me to get it right, this time.