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.


Leave a comment


  1. I understand. I really, really do. Great post. Keep writing and living.

    • Thank you, Alice. I’ve read some of your posts and I know that you really do understand. Writing and living is what I’m aiming for 🙂

  2. I’ve often said that writing helps to get it out of you — whatever your personal “it” may be — and onto paper, so to speak, so it’s no longer in you, eating away at who you are.

    • Exactly. When we have the courage to trap those monsters in the page, be it physical or digital, they are powerless to hurt us. It’s getting up the guts to call them out that can be a challenge–no, is a challenge. I’ve been battling this particular herd of wild beasts for forty years. Out with them now! I want to harness them and make them work for me, and not the other way around!


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