An Experiment

I have been pushing and pulling this thread all day long. I can’t tell if there is anything there or not. I just have to keep trying. I’ve been hypomanic for a few hours and I haven’t been able to determine whether or not that’s been helpful. I really don’t know if it has or not. I had been thinking about trying my hand at writing for 100Words.com. The premise is that you write 100 words a day, every day, for a month. If you succeed they showcase you (along with the other writers) and your entries can be read.

The problem is that I tend to write more that 100 words.  The previous paragraph meets the mark but now I am going on.  I think this is going to be a good challenge for me.  Like I said, I’ve been trying to write for quite some time but I haven’t really had a reason, other than I want to.  Furthermore, I haven’t been paying much attention as to my state of mind when I was trying.  I believe it will be a fine experiment figuring out whether it’s manic, hypomanic, depressed or middle of the road that affect my ability to produce.

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I’m all blocked up

About a week ago, I started a blog to get some of my old writing out*. I wanted to make these pieces accessible. I was hoping that dusting them off and reading through them once again would somehow jump-start my creative process. In doing so, I came up with more insight into my life to go along side what I have already written here.

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On March 4, 2003, I was diagnosed with Malignant Melanoma. The tumor was located on my back, right between my shoulder blades. In the ensuing weeks I had several surgeries, ultimately resulting in the removal of a large tumor and the determination that no lymph nodes were involved. After the final surgery, I was told that I was cancer free. I would not need to undergo any further treatment. No chemo or radiation therapy would be necessary.

A few months after these events I found myself in a deep…..funk is what I’ll call it. This is when I believe the depression started. I decided (with the help of my friends and family) to seek some professional help. I visited a psychiatrist, he prescribed some medication, and away I went. All was good.

But…..all was not good, my mood seemed to be fine whenever I was at work or out with friends. When I was alone, was a different story. I commonly found myself in a deep dark place when I spent any appreciable time by myself. The easiest way to see this is to look at my writing from that time. Actually, that’s not the best thing, because my writing has been that way for a long time. In fact, I first sought help from a mental health professional in 1996, though I abandoned it after a few months of therapy. That is also when dark prose began.

I wrote pretty regularly until 2009. There are several, now defunct, blogs as well as a personal writing website that I maintained off and on for almost 10 years. Not everything was dark, though large portions were.

In 2009 I had a major psychotic incident. I spent time in the hospital on several different occasions. I stopped working. I stopped writing.

Now, it’s 2013, and I want to start writing again. I know there are going to be some dark areas….I have a lot pent up in there. Before I can get to any of that or anything else for that matter, I have to actually start. That is where I’m stuck. I seem to be blocked.

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*Please send me an e-mail if you would like to read the other blog (mentioned above): gavin8r@gmail.com

The rest of the story

I got out of the hospital a few days later. My parents were there to take me back to my apartment. Over the next few days, weeks and months, the story began to coalesce. After a number of meetings with various psychiatrists and therapists and intensive Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), I was diagnosed with Major Depression with Psychotic Features (Psychotic Depression). I had been having periods of behavior that was described as “out of character”, “inappropriate”, “overbearing”, “impulsive” as well others. The weekend before I went into the hospital I had been having some hallucinations.

At the end of 2009 I was still struggling. Doctors had changed, medication had changed, I still wasn’t working; there was nothing normal about my life. Plus, I was still having small hallucinations and hearing voices. Nothing was working and it wasn’t having a very good effect on my well-being.

Early in 2010 one of the counselors involved in the CBT I was attending suggested that I investigate Electroconvulsive Therapy (ECT). I did some research and found out that ECT today is nothing like ECT used to be. With modern treatments, you lie down on a gurney, an anesthetist puts you to sleep, and the doctor passes an electric current through electrodes stuck to your forehead.

With the help of my family, I chose to undergo ECT. It consisted of a series of treatments: every day for a week, every other day for a month or so, once a week for a couple of months, every other week for a few months, and so on until I reached every 6 months. I can report that the treatments were successful. The side effect have been relatively minor. I always had a headache when I woke up from a treatment but that was to be expected. My greatest complaint is the memory loss. I see issues with long term, mid term and short term memory (Retrograde Amnesia).

I had my last ECT in September of 2012 and I’m mow living in North Carolina. With some medication adjustments, from my new psychiatrist, things are OK. My new diagnosis is Bipolar II. The psychotic features have been gone for quite some time.

I’m gradually getting my life back in order. Every day seems to be a struggle with something. I was going through an old computer the other day and I ran across a lot of writing I have done over my lifetime. It consists mostly of poetry and short prose. It reinforced my desire to start writing again. I’ve been trying for six months and this is where I am.

Still in the dark

When I start to go anywhere near that time, walls start going up and I start shutting down. I’ve only even been able to approach it in the company of my psychiatrist, therapist, or peer support group. With that in mind…

It was in early August, 2009. I was flying high. I was living in San Diego and I had recently gotten a BIG promotion. My company was putting me through grad school. Things couldn’t have been going much better. I wasn’t getting as much sleep as I really needed but with everything going on, I was getting enough.

It was early Monday morning and my work cell was ringing as I stepped out of the shower. My boss was on the other end and she said that everyone was worried about me and that she and another one of my co-workers where there to take me to the hospital. For some reason, I didn’t argue with her. I must have known that things with me weren’t exactly as they should be. It wasn’t until much later that I found out how bad “exactly” was.

That Monday was a blur of doctors and nurses and emergency room attendants. When all was said and done, I found myself in a private hospital room, hooked up to an IV and a pulse monitor. My boss showed up a little while later. She told me that she had called my parents and that they were on the way from North Carolina and that the hospital had called my psychiatrist (though I hadn’t seen him yet).

When the hospital doctor made his rounds, he informed me that I had a very serious bladder infection and that I would have to be on IV fluids and antibiotics for a few more days. It wasn’t until my psychiatrist showed his face on Tuesday that things became a bit clearer. He explained to me that the bladder infection was interfering with the antidepressant that I was taking and that this is what had caused me to act the way I did.

Act the way I did? I was still in the dark about that. I would stay in the dark for some time to come.

I have writer’s block

For a very large portion of my life I have been a writer. Then something happened and all of a sudden, I’m not. I’ve tried a number of times, but all I manage to come away with are a couple of paragraphs here, possibly a page there. It is very frustrating, where there used to be a healthy flow there is now only a drip, or even worse, a layer of dust.

Of course, this begs the question; what the hell am I doing starting a blog?

Hopefully, over the next few weeks, months, or dare I say, years, that question will be answered.