Where IS My Mind? My Return, My Headspace, and the Song of the Week…

It’s been a while.

Partly this was due to a very enjoyable New York vacation (thanks again, Phil & Angie, with a drunken shout-out to Ross), partly due to a general psychological crunch brought on by a major health scare (which proved to be false, thank the gods) and the last radioactive traces of the break-up I’d been trying to fix for way too long, partly due to what seems to be a normalization process in my brain after the giddy trauma of electroshock therapy.

I’ve been out of town and off my game. And most definitely off track.

But, I’m back. I’m healthy. My heart is healed, if still grieving at the loss of someone who would be a fine friend (but who, in truth, I think was right about our romantic incompatibility…the signs were there all along, I just chose to ignore them). And the worst of the crazy brought on by my ECT treatments seems to have receded, leaving me still better able to deal with my demon depression, but not an emotional basket case. It’s like my spine has returned from sabbatical. I am again myself. Mostly. I think.

Now it’s time to get back to work. I’m renewing my commitment to my On Track program, formally beginning this coming Monday. And I’m going to be fine-tuning it some, based on my earlier experiences (for instance, I’m upping my daily minimum word count for writing to 1,000 rather than 500).

Also, I should be on here more again. I hope you’ll join me.

In the meantime, here’s the first Song of the Week in a while, a haunting and lovely piano cover of the Pixies’ “Where Is My Mind” by Maxence Cyrin.

Can’t Stop A Train

Great song by the Derailers (perhaps the perfect theme band for my weeks “off track” of late)…

Another mile, another memory 
of a love I’m trying to forget 
There’s no cure, for my misery, 
or I haven’t found it yet 

Chorus:
Can’t stop a train, can’t stop a heart; 
I’m feeling pain when it’s falling apart 
Can’t keep the one you love from changing; 
When it’s rolling, can’t stop a train 

Our love is a raging fire that consumes my heart and soul 
It ran hot right down to the wire when it burns out of control 
Where is our love, was it just a sweet dream? 
So good while it lasted, now it’s gone, moving on, 
can’t stop a train

Repeat Chorus

When it’s gone, moving on, can’t stop a train, can’t stop a train 

My Pulp Pit Column at IMJ Returns! Pulp Pit #2: “I Am Not Doc Savage”

After many travails, my second column at Inveterate Media Junkies is now finally online:

I AM NOT DOC SAVAGE

Scary [Updated]

Severe heartbreak. Deaths of old friends. A resurgence of depression. My son outta town for a couple weeks.

And now…drumroll please…cancer scare!

What the fuck, is it sweeps week?

[UPDATE: After the tests, it turned out I was okay.]

Turns out, my digestive trauma/internal bleeding back around the turn of the year, maybe significant. Turns out, dropping twenty pounds in a month and a half and not being able to regain any of it, maybe significant. Turns out, a few warts and an odd bump in my skin, maybe significant. Turns out, uncharacteristically major spikes of stress caused by minor upsets, maybe significant.

So today was day 1 of tests. Friday’s day 2, with a specialist, and this morning the doc pointed me to another specialist who I’ll likely see next week. Today was all about blood. Friday is likely to be a biopsy. And day 3 will probably entail a full-on colonoscopy.

For some reason, I’m tense. And sad. Well…I was already sad. But now, really tense too. It’s hard to focus on anything. I hope to get my writing done today, at least 500 words, but will at least make sure to get my pushup regimen done.

When fighting demons, you gotta stay in shape.

“Fireflies” (Song of the Week, 6/20/11)

My depression is rearing to tell me it hasn’t been vanquished for good, but I’m not gonna let it take over things anymore. This Owl City song reminds me of a really happy time, and it makes me hopeful. Plus, it just makes me smile and want to dance.

I’m Back From The Dead, Wish You Were Here…

Twist 'n' shout, baby...

When I first discovered that depression was pretty much the source of most of my troubles, the reason I hadn’t been able to build the life I wanted, and sought professional help, my MD referred me to a beautiful lady shrink at Emory (let’s call her Susan Silverman, for those in the know, because she would have been perfect). I met with her a couple of times, and she explored my history then referred me to another shrink in the program she thought would work well with me.

One thing she told me before I started working with the other doctor has always stuck with me. Continue reading

Return of the Wild Side

My first “grown up” romantic relationship was with a lovely German girl I met the day I arrived at my Army post in the village of Treysa, West Germany. She was smart and funny and sexy, and we were together for something like four years. She was a good girl friend.

I was a good boyfriend too. Mostly.

I’ve been remembering certain things the past few days, as I’ve dealt with the after-effects of my electroshock therapy, tossed around like a cork on a sea of emotion churning, chaotic, and deep.

Then, I was young and passionate and immature. I had some anger issues. I lacked a certain measure of self control. I know this sounds like I’m about to launch into some darkly revelatory reminiscence, but the truth is (mostly) a lot goofier than that. Continue reading

Getting On Track (Help Wanted!)

On Track...

It’s been an interesting week. Largely in that “Chinese curse: may you live in interesting times” sorta way, but interesting.

And this post has been a pain in the ass. The main idea is to talk about things I’ve done this week to get my life back on track, and the plans I have going forward, and also to ask for some help.

But I’ve started several times, each time digressing as I tried to establish context and discuss what got me to this point, until the post becomes more  a rehash of recent history than a plan of action. If you need such a rehash, I’ve covered most of that ground here already and you can easily catch up. In the notes below, I will briefly cover some pertinent details.

I don’t want to make the mistake I’ve made at times in the past and cook up a huge plan of action that is too much to take on, only to inevitably (and quickly) falter. So I’ll focus on certain areas, and commit to a few definite tasks in those areas, allowing for the plan to grow more complex over time as appropriate.

And, as I said, I’m asking for help. I want friends to help me stay on track by holding me accountable. If you’re interested, I’m looking into ways to post my progress day to day (probably on Facebook) so you’ll know if I’m doing what I’m supposed to be doing, and you can alternately cheer me or badger me. I think it’ll help me a lot. As I figure the tracking system out, I’ll post more info.

Now, the foundation… Continue reading

The Passion of the Tim

"It's just the beast in me..." --Elvis Presley, JAILHOUSE ROCK

Hiatus over.

The past couple of days were rough ones. Kate and I were getting along wonderfully again, then POW, we stumbled over some truly picayune stuff and suddenly were back in the stress zone.

Neither of us acted as well as we might have, both of us being human, but I have to lay claim to the lion’s share of the blame. I overreacted to some things, then my mind wouldn’t let me release it even as I kept trying to. Kate was visiting her family, and wanting to go be with them, and we were arguing via text. I kept saying stuff like “It’s okay, go, I want you to enjoy the time with your family,” and I was sincere…but there was a rhetorical snapping turtle in my head that would only let me sit calmly a minute or two before throwing some new antagonistic comment out and insisting I send it her way. And I would try to maintain self control and not send it, but would lose the fight. Then after some more shared friction, I’d be back to saying I didn’t want to keep her from her family.

And, I wound up damn near destroying our relationship, which we’d managed to rebuild from our earlier problems. By the time I went on “hiatus,” I felt I’d lost all hope, and was so devastated I didn’t think I’d be able to do anything positive or productive for a long time…if ever again. Continue reading

Lightning Squared (ECT)

So maybe it was an error to undergo the ECT course while I’m freshly heartbroken…

Every session, they quiz me to see if I’ve improved. Questions like “Do you feel sad? If so, do you feel sad part of the time, a lot of the time, or all of the time…?”

Well I feel sad all the time, thank you. The electroshock has done nothing to erase that. So I’m left feeling terrible, and uncertain as to whether I’m getting any benefit from the treatments.

Honestly, I’ve felt little change at all, positive or negative. And that led them to max out the voltage on the unilateral charges they were giving me. Unilateral charges are given to one side of the head and are safer generally than bilateral, with fewer memory issues and such. Usually unilateral do the trick. But now I’ve allowed them to switch up to high voltage bilateral charges, which we started today. And I feel groggy and a bit headachey for the first time. No memory issues I can spot yet though, so that’s good.

I don’t even know if I really give a damn any more, though. I’m glad I’m alive for exactly one reason, and that’s so I can be here for my son. If it weren’t for him, I could get squished by a fucking meteor and not be too put out by it.

Tiny Violins

For those who think I’m wallowing in self pity over here…I am. Figured I may as well indulge myself. I mean, I’m suffering from deep, long-lasting depression that has driven me to actual electroshock treatments, I’m unable to write regularly in order to make my living the way I want to, and I just lost the first girl I’ve ever met who I think was an actual near-perfect match for me.

So yeah, I’m gonna enjoy some tiny violins for the moment. I’m entitled to be sad, and I am.

In My Wrong Mind

I’ve spent much of today in the state I was in Thursday, either an aimless zombie or napping.

I don’t think it’s from the ECT. I think it’s just stress and depression.

Heh. “Just” stress and depression, as if that’s not much at all.

Actually I feel like hell.

At this point I’m starting to hope the lightning does burn away some memories.

In My Write Mind (ECT)

"Get to work!"

Yesterday proved to be a very interesting counterpoint to the day before.

Whereas Thursday I’d been fogged in and unfocused,  after my ECT session Friday I went home and became nothing but focused.

Actually, it started earlier than that. For the second night in a row I slept terribly, my mind racing with thoughts of recent sadness. It just wouldn’t shut up. By three I was fully awake and couldn’t get back to sleep.

But after suffering a while longer, I realized something. My thoughts weren’t just a stream-of-consciousness parade of feelings and memories, they were self-organizing. My mind was composing sentences and paragraphs, actually editing each thoughtpolishing it up before moving to the next. I hadn’t planned to write anything more about my heartbreak, but my mind clearly disagreed and wasn’t going to leave me alone until I did. I got up and started trying to capture those thoughts, and as I wrote my mind calmed; it had my attention now, it no longer had to yell.

I wrote until it was time to get ready to go to ECT.

When I got back home, I started writing again, shaping all my thoughts into a blog post. I didn’t stop until deep into the evening. The result was a post nearly 3,500 words long (this from the guy who has trouble making 500-1,000 words a day). And it’s a pretty damn good post. I may even post it here, but not right now.

I have, at times in the past, written in journals to deal with tough times, but as far as I remember this is the first time my mind has insisted I do so. And it helped somewhat, especially while I was actually writing, focused on getting everything down. I’m still hurting though; that’s going to take a while to heal.

My brain kept me awake ruminating on the hurts of the past few weeks, then forced  me to write as a way of coping. For a writer, that’s not a bad sign. Perhaps it’s a signal that what’s going on in there right now, sparked by the ECT, is reawakening or reorganizing the parts of my mind that make me a writer in the first place. Maybe it cleared some rubble from the passageways and it’s easier to move around in there again. Or maybe my mind just did what it had to do to keep me from imploding fully into despair.

I’m still depressed. I’m still heartbroken. But I wrote. Was it because of the ECT? I don’t know.

Modern Day Frankenstein (ECT)

Or, to make the reference accurate, Frankenstein’s monster. But that doesn’t have the same ring.

I am just back from my second ECT session, in which they are trying to use lightning to spark life out of that which is dead, meaning my vitality and joy and ability to live fully. So far, we’re lacking an “IT’S ALIVE!” moment, but here’s hoping. We are still at the beginning.

Today wasn’t much different than Wednesday. The biggest difference was the nurse did a worse job putting in the IV and had to dig around a bit to get the catheter properly in the vein. Good times.

So far today I’m more clear-headed and alert than I was yesterday (described here). It’ll be interesting to see how I am tomorrow, if my brain seems to be motoring at a lower RPM, or if yesterday was just a temporary adjustment, if related to the ECT at all.

O Aimless Me (ECT)

Aimless Tim

I suspect it has something to do with my brain reacting to yesterday’s lightning strike, but I am utterly useless today.

I’m unfocused. I don’t feel like going anywhere, or watching anything, or reading, or playing a video game. Unfortunately that leaves me spinning pointlessly through the internet on and on and on, not paying much attention. I have far too much day to spend dwelling on things I need to forget.

Well, there’s a reason they don’t let you drive while in ECT treatment. I guess while the brain works to fix things, it’s burning energy that normally would go to other things, like having an attention span or rational thought. I’m managing to write this, but I’m not really focused on it, and the writing’s slow.

I’m still gung-ho, though. This is kinda an adventure.

Lighting The Spark (ECT Day 1)

Survived.

It wasn’t nearly as harrowing as I expected.

They had me fill out some forms (“I agree that if my cerebellum sizzles like a frying egg, I absolve the cook from all responsibility…”). They encouraged me to empty my bladder, and recommended I put on a Depends diaper because sometimes people wet themselves when they’re on the muscle relaxants. I opted for no diaper. I’d expected to have to don a gown, but they let me keep my clothes on. Continue reading

THUNDER

When I’m writing this, I’m up way too early Monday morning. But when it appears on my blog Wednesday morning, I will be at the ZZZZZZZAAAAAAAAAP lab, possibly already riding the lightning.

To commemorate this first session (which I’ll try to blog about afterward), here’s some AC/DC.

Thanks to all my friends who are with me in spirit as I undergo this treatment…

Taken By The Wind (A Personal History, Part 5): The Got No Friends Blues

If you’ve been with the blog a while, you’ll be aware of my depression. It cripples my daily life, and I’ve suffered with it since I was a kid. Wasn’t until I was in my thirties that I realized something was wrong, and I’ve been battling it off and on through various means ever since. Tomorrow I do the biggy, ECT, electroconvulsive therapy, and they’ll knock me out and strap me down and zap some lightning through my brain, hopefully stimulating my hippocampus to do its fucking job.

I’m actually looking forward to it.

A few people, even online friends I don’t actually know, have made a point of being supportive and positive, both in this endeavor and my struggle in general. Thank you. It means a lot to me. I’m completely out of touch with my father and paternal family by choice, and my mother died when I was a baby and I haven’t been in touch with her family since my late teens. Isolation is one of the demons depression sics on its victims, and my friends have fallen away from me one by one over the years, leaving a few I rarely see. The only friend who is around often (and is going to drive me back and forth to the ECT sessions, because you’re not allowed to drive immediately after one) is my ex-wife. And though I walk a tunnel in which I rarely see a light at the end, my son burns bright enough to keep the walls from closing in entirely.

In September ’04, during one extended and rough depressive time, I sent an email to a couple of friends asking for help. I’ve decided to post it, in its entirety,  for the sake of those who don’t really know what depression is. It might give you some insight into the life of someone you know, and if you’re stalwart and true, you can stand by them and help. Continue reading