Tuesday, June 20, 2017


I wonder how many writers sit down to write and feel like they are about to consume an entire sleeve of Oreo cookies. When I sit down to write, this is how I feel: It's a secret, slightly guilt-tinged sense of delight. 

I feel like I'm doing something I shouldn't be doing. But the creative joy it brings to me is a savory, sweet, crunchy and delicious binge-worthy glee. On top of that, it gets even more juicy because, every time I write, I have a compulsion to share it publicly online. So, correction here;

When I write, It's like eating an entire sleeve of Oreo cookies and then taking a picture of the evidence and publishing it for all the Internet to see. 

It's not until the morning after when I awake, groggy and sugar-drunk, teeth covered with a film of chocolate, cream, and stale milk, that I realize the event that's occurred in the wee hours the night before. And that's when I hang my head and confess it to my mother.

The equation is so reliable that it no longer surprises me. It just disappoints me. Because...Because...Well, I don't know. It's complicated. I suppose the easiest way to describe it is that I am a reluctant exhibitionist. My mind is cleaved in two parts, one part Creative Free Spirit, other part Inhibited Recluse.

This poor blog. The number of times I make it Public, then Private, then Public, then Private...Somedays I leave my journal on the bus and other days I bury it 10 feet underground. The funny thing, though, is that it has nothing to do with the writing itself. The thing I am revealing then retreating is not the writing but something else much more intimate and fragile. Writing is just writing and the Internet is full of people eating sleeves of Oreo cookies. The thing is,

I am not exhibiting and extinguishing my Writing. I am exhibiting and extinguishing my Brain. 

My brain. The brain that I am not supposed to talk about because, well, we are just not quite there yet as a society. The 's' word is rampant and I am guilty of it too. Stigma, stigma, stigma. It's all about stigma.

If I were writing about being gay, or being a tired mother, or being an ironclad Vegan, things would be fine. I wouldn't get pigeonholed and people wouldn't start to wonder who I really am. Future employers wouldn't politely turn and look the other way toward the stack of resumes full of candidates without a Mental Illness.

I often find myself apologizing to close family and friends who only want the best for me. They have seen me get hurt by my own actions and they don't want to see me get hurt again. So, in the Down times, I bottle it up and I marvel at the stupidity of my own over-sharing. But then, there are the other times. The Up times. The Up times make me feel smart and sort of all-knowing (yes, maybe even cocky?) and there is a race to get the thoughts out for fear that I will forget this feeling.

What am I even talking about. I am talking about Flow. I've dared to write about this before and I've discussed it with therapists who nod with knowing. But it's embarrassing because Flow sounds like Crazy. Cray-cray. Woo woo. Psychotic babble that is like a hallucinogen in the moment but a confusing tangled spider web after the fact.

Right now, I am not feeling Flow. No, I am still skirting around the edge of Blue, my word for Depression. But, BUT. There is something there. Something percolating. It is a dog-eared page that has been creased so many times it's become soft and un-creased so I've forgotten and lost the passage. But, the passage goes something as banal as this:

  1. Exercise. Exercise, exercise.
  2. Sleep. Get good sleep.
  3. Eat a healthy diet.
  4. Try to do something social.
  5. Get your work done
I have a crumpled Post-It note that I used to carry in my wallet everywhere I went. It was a note I wrote to myself while chatting on the phone with my brother back when I lived in Chicago. It said the above five steps, but even in simpler, softer terms (such as "Try to get some exercise when you can") in a loving tone that could only come from a caring older brother to a younger sister who still needs her deceased Dad.

It's the basics. The key elements every human being needs to stay on track. 

It sort of pisses me off in a slap-your-forehead kind of way that these are the elements that I've been missing for the past year, despite Psychiatrist and Psychologist gentle prodding and reminding me over and over again as the weeks and months have ticked by. Why has it been so hard for me? Why have I been a wooly mammoth frozen in a chunk of dirty prehistoric glacial ice?

Because, friends, this is what the Brain loves to do. My brain, (and maybe yours too sometimes?) loooves to put up summer construction roadblocks over night so that the next day I can't even find a highway to get me to work. 

It's like I just...can't. (I love that cool phrase. Is it still cool to say "I just can.'t" ?) Well, that's the thing. When I am Down, I. Just. Can't. I can't concentrate, I can't ideate, I can't function, I can't enjoy. But, I've learned over the years, even today, in fact, while talking to a co-worker, no one seems to know the difference. This aways amazes me. The fact that I must fake it so damn well that people can't tell when I feel like I am rotting on the inside.

I think this is why I have to Write. I have to expose my Brain, and continue to expose it over and over again and leave these bread crumbs for the "morning after." How many times can one go through a Depression and not remember what it felt like to feel OK? How many times can one feel certain that this is the time the disorder has conquered the spirit and holy shit, we might just sink down and drown for real this timeWell, apparently, many, many, many times.

Yesterday I went for a three mile run. Due to meds and bad eating, I'm overweight again. (Apologies, Mom, for the overshare.) Something people in my Club experience countless times due to med side effects and the body numbing hurt of Depression is your body craps out on you and you lose your groove, big time. Today I went swimming. For the past two days I've been using my beloved Lose It! app which makes food and exercise tracking a cinch. 

And, um, guess what. I am feeling a little bit better. Dammit! Exercise and decent eating. And sleeping the best I can (despite a late night here and there like now). Could it really be that simple? Is conventional wisdom correct? I question it because I know that doctors don't even completely know why the meds we take even work half the time.  

The Brain is so complex. I wish I could give you some scientific fact about humanity knowing more about the Ocean than the Brain, but, whatever. 

The brain is this mysterious, still uncharted three pound lump of goo that can accomplish great feats and wreak total havoc on us poor plebeians just trying to pay taxes and maybe procreate, if we are lucky.

I hope you get to read this because it'll probably be Private again soon when the fog rolls back in. But, for the moment, I am listening to Fields of Gold by Sting (it's an old mix) and I am going to hit Publish, and then go to sleep. Have a decent (not too Up, and not too Down) day.

My Brain(s) and I Thank You.

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