CHRONIC TONIC posts on Thursdays at 9 p.m. EST. It is a place to share stories, advice, and information and to connect with others with chronic health conditions and those who care for them. Our diarists will report on research, alternative treatments, clinical trials, and health insurance issues through personal stories. You are invited to share in comments (and note if you'd like to be a future diarist).
Life Is Good by Hugh Man
I never thought of myself as 'mad' as in 'crazy.' True enough, I battle what's been pathologized (depending on the most current 'Big-Pharma-push) as Major Depressive Disorder (MDD), BiPolar I, Borderline Personality Disorder ... whatever. All I know for certain is that my earliest memories -- dating back to age 3 -- are of being a sad, distanced, lonely child. Few friends. Fearful. An early reader. An early poet. In love with the magic of words and language.
By the time I was 14, I knew there was something decidedly different about me. I was a veritable cripple, a sore-thumb in a world seemingly peopled with gorgeous lithe gymnists; cliquey cute, baton-twirling cheerleaders; and popular, Twiggy-sized go-go-dancing blondes. While they were spending endless hours each night gossiping on teen-age telephone trees, I was memorizing Latin declensions and conjugations and interpreting literary allusions in The Four Quartets. Still, I recall an escalating sense that I was ODing on forced injections of their reality which began to warp my fragile, painstakingly constructed inner sanctuary.
But I held on for 30 years, using wine and vodka, sporadic talk therapy and sobriety, acupuncture, jogging and meditation. I mastered how to 'act as if,' to show up at work and put in 60-hour weeks as a writer because writing is my bliss, my salvation ... (imagine getting paid for this?). I married and raised a child, pushing her out into the real world beyond my grasp where she learned young how to conquer her fears.
Things were going relatively well until the cracks in my foundation gave way to a total collapse of my infrastructure, a perilous pancaking which in turn necessitated a psychotrophic intervention.
Since then, I've been coping. Always fiddling with an ever-changing pharma-cocktail. Always searching for an alternative. A way off the dreaded mind-bending meds, which have in many manners morphed into what feels like a fugue-like mental straitjacket.
I realized too late that with all its shortcomings, the marriage -- assuming the role of wife and mother -- was kinda like the Elmer's glue that held it all together. That masked the manic turbulence that lie beneath.
It was after the divorce, which occurred at the end of my daughter's high school years, when all the scaffolding was removed, that the patchwork which was me began sprouting major leaks. Sporadically. Situationally. Perhaps seasonally. Does it matter?
The episodes became more intense. Occurring closer together. Blacker. More suicidal.
The mood swings became more extreme. Holding onto a job? Impossible. I never did have a sense of boundaries when it came to journalistic integrity. So you can imagine, when newspapers and web content providers started being bought out and run by CEOs with no knowledge whatsoever of objectivism in reporting, copyright patents and The Chicago Manual of Style? HAH. They didn't know what hit them. Not one to play by corporate protocol, I never hesitated to take my concerns straight to the top, walking by secretaries, sending direct emails. Grabbing the ear of the 'big suit' in a random encounter in a parking lot. A cafe. The employee lunchroom.
Not hard to understand why I've been free lancing for the past five years. Nobody pulling the strings in the media industry today wants to deal with some middle-aged, old-school minion sending them a note sorta like this:
Just thought I'd send you a few suggestions re current issue before we publish.
1. Page 23 Para 6. Lines 6-8. Copy reads:
"While this positioning is quite different from the one commonly held by magazine publishers, it will distinguish the uniqueness of our editorial brand."
Correction: Never use from with different! Should read: While this position is quite different than the one commonly held magazine publishers, it will distinguish the uniqueness of our editorial brand."
2. Appendix, III. (3)
"During the initial phases, the editorial team will design guidelines for free lance writers, policy for submitting images, and copy edit all existing content to comply with The Chicago Manual of Style."
Correction: Problem with parallelism: Should read: "During the initial phases, the editorial team will design guidelines for free lance writers, write policy for submitting images, and copy edit all existing content to comply with The Chicago Manual of Style."
"BTW: All sources on Page 3 story on "Do fetuses prefer Hagan Daz to Ben and Jerry's?" have conflicts of interest. Plus, the article is blatantly editorializing, written from POV of RTL nut jobs. Know you're under a lot of pressure from the Board, but don't we first and foremost have a responsibility to our readers?"
Imagine being the CEO of Times Warner and getting this kinda shit in your in box or voice mail or having a writer you never saw before approach you as your chauffeur drops you off at outside corporate headquarters on Columbus Circle?
Finit! More times than I like to remember.
But I digress ... just trying to set the table ....
Last week Sunday. Restorative Yoga. One of the first poses. Paschimottanasana. I'm doing this inner brain visualization with tactics I learned from Reiki years ago. Moving my consciousness around, along the top of my brain. Pushing bright light in through the frontal, cerebral and parietal lobes. Visioning tossing huge silver buckets of clear cool water over the hypocampus, pituitary, thalmus, and pineal glands. Pulling out that bristle brush in hopes of activating Gliogenesis When suddenly I see my mind as one of those huge clumps of Halloween cobweb gook. I take it out of the package and spread it inside, covering both hemispheres. Stretch. Stretch. Ah, there's some holes, some tears. Some mean looking globs in the upper right cerebrum. I'll need to get to them. That's one helluva nasty looking rip across the corpus callosum reaching deep down into my hippocampus and the amygdala. That'll needs quite a few heavy-duty stitches.
Cobweb Hedge: Strange maggot filled cobweb that has appeared on the pegwood hedges in Tipperary.Photo by Fiona Kearney.
Mending? The concept slowly rolls down from mytemporo-parietal junction. Healing? Have I ever even conceptualized healing my damaged brain? Has anyone? Hasn't it always rather been a matter of slapping on some spackling paste, pharmaceutical camouflage, elaborately constructed definitions? All designed to blunt the impact of an hyper-sensitive soul under attack, ravaged by external realities which terrify her?
.... The teacher shifts us into Viparita Karani. Once positioned, I move back back inside ... What I need is some needles. Knitting needles? Crochet hooks? A corkscrew? Pipecleaner? Ouch. Everything seems too course, too painful. For quite some time, I toss around the concept that I just might have to morph myself into a spider to truly repair the damage. Impossible.
The past and pending by Terra Kate
Supta Virasana. I move my consciousness outside my body again. Drift around weightless in a zero gravity world in search of the perfect tool. Something gentle, non-invasive, like the wing of a butterfly brushing past ... a leaf tossed along in the breeze, catching wisps and bearing them along to cloture ... a luminous white feather, conducting anthroscopic feather surgery....
Magie des Lichts by Alice Popkorn
"We become intensely powerful and effective once we start believing in the light within us, and allow this inner light to guide us toward the right action." Linda Tucker
I'll need a marionette ... That's it! I'll need to drop a gentle marionette-like figure into my consciousness, slide it down into the innermost parts of my brain on a multi-colored string, suspended perhaps from a kite flying free overhead.
no limit by Alice Popkorn
In our willingness to step into the unknown, the field of all possibilities, we surrender ourselves to the creative. Enjoy the journey. Instead of motivation, look for inspiration. Inspiration comes from the same word as spirit.
When you are inspired, the spirit moves you. DeepakChopra
The marionette will tip toe along this tightrope, suspended in my ether-esque mind ... the slight pressure of each step healing, transforming, breathing magic into the dark spaces, bending forward to weave together glial threads with the light of the feather.
... until ....
Spirit World By Alice Popkorn
All gone! For now.