Saturday, May 29, 2010

'Beware the Jabberwocky, My Son'

I woke up this morning in a very dark place. It could be the dreams I had last night, (which I don't remember, I only know they woke me up). When seven thirty rolled around I forced myself up, made some coffee, took a shower, and tried to meet the day. After going on a writing binge and experiencing some real manic behavior, I decided to start taking my mood stabilizing medication, which I had stopped taking in Austin once I felt the serenity of a routine. With all the changes coming back to Boulder, all the possibilities, disappointments, and new social interaction, I've began to notice that my moods were once again swinging from torrid highs to what I am experiencing this morning, a 'bottoming out'. I really kind of hate being on them, as I do have small side affects, (like a slight tremor) but, for now, getting me stable seems to be the course of action. Luckily, I have enough to get me through the next few weeks, but then of course, there is the two—week period of going through the process of it working. This is the thing I understand about this strange disorder that seems to affect me more as I get older. People that have this— I'll call it 'bipolar' (even though I refuse to diagnose myself with this malady) don't like to go on the medication because it 'levels' them out. This morning, however, while not in the manic torrent of writing a play like a madman, I just wanted to feel somewhat normal like the people I saw up at The Farmer's Market. I went there, but found I could not even socially interact—as this darkness has filled up my spirit. I decided to come home and write about it. I can't tell sometimes whether 'the art' takes me there, or if I become manic and 'take the art' there. All I know is that what I've read about and have experienced is very true for me. I do know that blogging helps me to maintain more consistency with the writing, so that I am not isolating on the inside of a play or some other form of mania. I've also come to the realization that I have always had this in some form, as I look back at my past and the way in which I created, mostly in manic episodes. I think I once explained that the process of creating theatre is the perfect manic storm, it has the same trajectory as a manic/depressive episode.

This morning I did call a 'friend of a friend' whose son is withdrawing from opiates, and in that fifth day of being 'dope sick'. I would urge you, any who venture into this lair, there is a reason it is called 'the dragon'. Within it you feel like your life will never be the same. Your body and mind are relentlessly pushing you to 'get relief', and if you can't get that relief your mind is telling you that there is no reason to continue to live. The 'son' would not talk to me, but at least I could impart some advice for this parent who is so evidently going through a living hell watching his son withdraw from heroin. Opiates are also the perfect bipolar storm, only falsely manufactured and raising the stakes a hundred fold. "Beware the dragon", said the dragon slayer, "for he is more than a storm…" I have found when I'm like this, (depressed) if I can find someone to help it makes a big difference. I think when I feel like this I get to the core of why I am so addicted to anything that crosses my path. People who have never experienced what it is like to live through this kind of darkness without relief don't have any idea what its really like. It's like a hell on earth. The strange thing is that you get used to the 'hellish' times, I'm not sure what it does to your character, but perhaps it is when you do live through it, the mania comes because you are so happy to come out of it. I think it’s the same way with alcohol addiction, only it’s a medication that is easily obtained, as 'the dragon' is more difficult to procure. I'm just remembering a poem my mother taught to me, "Beware, the jabberwocky, my son…" Perhaps the jabberwocky has always existed, and those who embrace it are doomed. As someone once said to me about heroin and meth, "it will always try to call you back…" That's another issue with alcohol and drug addiction that 'normal' people are not aware of, it never rests, each day is a struggle to not succumb. Wow, I'm getting in a little deep here, I guess I'm trying to say, if you know someone who has these issues, (and you don't) please understand that it is a baffling and insidious disease, don't think that you can judge it correctly, because you really can't. But, you can be hurt by it, and that is why help has to come from another source, because no addict or alcoholic can do it alone. I suppose that I'm writing through this dark morning. In Austin, when I started to feel this way, I could always go to a meeting, anytime of the day and feel instantly better. Here, it is not that easy to find people to talk about what I'm experiencing. If you are out there, most of you know where I live.

Last night, I was the featured musician at Hills and Hollows, a country store here in Boulder. It was not a huge turnout, but I sure had a good set with the other musicians that were there. We played for three hours, until my back was so sore from standing so I had to quit. Tonight, I have another gig in Escalante at a place called 'The Cowboy Blues". Well, that makes some sense. I also notice that when I feel an episode coming on, music is so much easier to access. It's as if all my emotions are ramped up to red level. So, I will attempt to arrest this on setting darkness before it gets to bad. I've attempted to start AA meetings here, but can't seem to find anyone who will play. At least I have a time, Wednesdays at 6:30, which helps, even when there is no one there.

I still have not heard whether I will be leaving here and going back to Austin. I'm a little worried that I haven't heard from the producer in five or six days. Perhaps that is feeding some of this dark place, preparing for disappointment. All I can do is live through today.

Baby is doing better, but she still smells like a skunk. She is restless now, and so I will take her outside and see if we can work off some of this energy which starts with every new day. The skunk has certainly changed our relationship for now, as she is used to getting lots of pets and scratches. I find I just have to talk to her lots, its funny, she seems to be understanding this skunk separation, and I can't imagine having to live through waiting for it to wear off. She's looking at me now with the look, "what are we gonna do, Dad?" I know that I need to probably go for a walk, but it is hard to get my feet moving down that road. I need to change my guitar strings today, and the earlier the better, or I will find they will stretch out of tune tonight, I'll let you know how that goes…


Anonymous said...

I have to comment here.

I have to because I relate.

I've questioned the manic depressive(i prefer that term over bi-polar)diagnosis, mostly because I think the diagnosis is often times given without thought from a mental health professional who doesn't take the time to look deeper.

But still, I relate to your plight. I relate to the thrill of a manic high, the invinsibility, the open road, chasing dreams and then writing about it while chainsmoking by candlelight. I too, know the lows. The dark and arcane place that scares the shit right of you. This weaving creates inconsistancy in my life, my mind and my thoughts.

I think people sometimes question you when you are in a dark place. they see the normal, happy and productive you, then the manic side of you that is fearless and on key. When the dark side envelops your mind, people tend to think, oh they are fine. They are tough, they are survivors. Yes, that is true, we ceratinly are but that approach can be deadly. The dark side knows no boundaries.

No one truly understands that dark place, unless they have been there. It is scary. It is scary because though it is familiar, nothing around you looks familiar. No one looks familiar, no one understands.

I went off all of my meds too, I believed I suffered from anxiety and depression. Not manic depression. The anxiety attacks are horrific and I concluded they lead to the depression. Until 3 years ago, the depression, I thought, was mild and manageable and it was just a because the wild side of me, a freespirit, a creative soul, was exhausted.

Up, down, level. Up, down, level.

About two weeks ago, I started feeling the clouds move in. After I felt no need for more than 4 hours of a sleep a night, after I wrote my heart out, after I thought I could conquer the world on faith alone. Suddenly, I was anxious, couldn't sit still, couldn't think, my thoughts were racing and I was excited but after a while, totally unproductive. Suddenly, everything around me, seemed like a dream world.

I am now considering returning to my medication as well. I am in a new town, so finding these services will be interesting. It is also interesting because I work in this field. My peers will also become my service providers. How will I do that?

I am not thrilled about the side effects of medication. The weight gain, the possible damage it can do to my body BUT I have aspirations, I have goals, I have kids and friends and a book that is still waiting in the wings of publishing. To not partake in some sort of medication would be irresponsible on my part, not to mention selfish, as my behaviors have certainly been confusing to others.

So, I am with you in this battle of the darkness and the thrill of creating the ultimate piece of art. It is a tightrope and the fall can be devastating, think of those meds as the net below.

To tightrope walk without that net isn't bravery, it is foolish.

You are always in my thoughts.


Chuckh said...

The dark demon is upon me and I see no way around him, he has to go through me. But oh, I can kick his ass to the curb. I just need that one knob to cling onto and get my grip, a footing to fling him off my back. With him everything I've ever done was no good, not good enough, a failure and a disgrace. Once lifted I see who I really am: a man struggling for answers. I used to think all answers were in nature. Look to nature I'd say to myself. Nature holds the key. Well, okay a bee has to be a bee. A dog has to be a dog. A horse has to be a horse...and man has to be human. To be human is to see where we fall short. But only if we hold ourselves up to compare with others. So if we stop doing that we come back to just being...I was told once that I didn't have to be special, that I could just be me, no more, no less. Could I accept myself as just an ordinary person? Doubt it. I want to hold what makes me special in my hand and blow on it to make it glow. So when I see the flames of others should I get jealous and lose my self in that? All I know is...we are spiritual beings and that is all I need to calm me down. I will never live up to what I want to be because I want to be too many things...Being human I guess is okay, but being a spiritual being feels much better. Tell the beast to take a hike and mean it. You are stronger than him...

Chuckh said...
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Chuckh said...
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Gerry said...

I do think the dark feelings which I used to experience in my younger days to extremes disappeared to a large degree when I made a great effort to pull myself together to act in accordance to my convictions which I had been too undisciplined to be able to do before. I felt that I was too prone to give in to the forces I thought were wrong just because they were powerful so I thought I had been corrupted, my will undermined, so I really could not act with force and conviction. It took a lot of thinking to be able to gather my forces, but then once I had done that the way was made easier for me to continue to do it, and I was prepared to hold the line no matter what resulted as long as I thought logic and reason dictated these moves. Up to then I felt myself to be a pawn to the will of others. said...

I enjoyed seeing you for a minute, and your great friendly babe. I always feel I need time to just talk for awhile, but Tom was headed home. I didn't realize you were writing from the depths today and felt like the jub-jub bird...I do hope you get out your vorpal blade and attack, go sniker-snack..and come galumphing back!
The Jabberwock is dead. Oh frabjoyous day callooh Callay!
Get out of those depths and come away! Life is good, come out and play! Don't wait, my son, for a word...pick up the beat and move on this day!