I didn’t intend to neglect my writing, but it’s fallen to the wayside a bit. Well, not really a bit–more like a couple of years. I’d thought to get back to it this fall, but after a small window of productivity, I stopped publishing again.

In part, that lack of publishing has been due to a very literal kind of busyness that has been unavoidable. New work responsibilities have kept me busy, and due to some job changes that keep Little Jedi’s dad away for longer periods of time than usual & also to LJ’s recent enrollment in both kung fu classes and circus arts, our regular schedule has been upended. These are good things, of course–kiddo is making new friends, & the job has been exciting-but-nervous-making.

We’ve also changed my medication a bit over the last month or two, adding a bit more of the mood stabilizer to help with the kinds of sensory overload I experience–misophonia and light sensitivity. For a few weeks I felt great. I was productive, and the sensory overload wasn’t nearly so awful as before. But over the last couple of weeks, my anxiety has been in high gear, and I’ve had several panic attacks that resulted in tears and needing klonopin to settle down.

Panic attacks are maybe my least favorite part of being ill. The depressive and hypomanic episodes of BP2 just don’t hold a candle to the panic attacks associated with anxiety disorder. Depressive episodes, hypomanic episodes, they don’t come on suddenly–they’re a slow burn, and I know when they’re coming. They don’t necessarily involve extra medication for me, although they do require that I pay attention to what’s going on and act accordingly, maybe changing my routine for a while.

But the panic attacks…There’s just no predicting them. The closest I can come is knowing that they indicate, coming as close to one another as they have lately, that I’m headed into a depressive episode–meaning a message to my doctor  perhaps an earlier-than-expected-appointment. But for today, there’s no stopping this without medicine that keeps me from doing all the things I need to do. I can’t teach without the medication, but I also can’t teach with the medication. Without it, I’m a crying, hyperventilating mess. With it, I’m a sleepy, foggy mess.

And it’s so frustrating. I got up this morning, put on my makeup, laid out my clothes, made coffee. I gathered up the things I was going to use to transition my developmental students from paragraphs to essay writing & made sure I had the right Roxane Gay reading queued for my 101 discussion about feminism. I had a list of things to do during office hours: grade papers and do some website work.

Then everything just fell apart. I can’t even say why, really. Maybe it’s stress or maybe it’s just chemistry. But I want to be in my office, getting ready to go into my classroom right now. I want to be planning lessons and grading papers and meeting with students during today’s office hours. I don’t want to be sitting on my couch, hunched inside my hoodie and pajamas, too upset to eat, using my sick leave and feeling guilty about it.

But this is where I am: klonopin-addled, couch-potato-ing, revising a long Facebook post into something I can publish here, in this long neglected but much-loved project. And I don’t really know what the moral of this story is, except that it’s really difficult to have this kind of double-diagnosis and that writing it down, acknowledging it, sometimes makes it a little easier to bear. Because while I know that tomorrow I will be fine, today is a burden.

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I abandoned my writing for a time, but here I am again.

It’s difficult to find where to begin, though.

I promised myself that I would write today, and so here I am: sitting at the computer, ready to tear open a vein and bleed (someone said that—who was it?). But I have no idea where to start.

Of course, they say that the simplest place to begin is the beginning. But who are “they” anyway, to determine the beginning of something? For (as the wise Semisonic once told us) every new beginning comes from some other beginning’s end. So what is the beginning? Is it the day I was born, small and squalling and dark haired? Or was it earlier, the day my parents met? Or still earlier, in the days when my parents were children—my mother a child with 4 younger sisters living in rural Alabama and my father a child living in small-town Mississippi with his 4 siblings? Or is it later, far later, when my own child is born? Does it even begin with birth? How could it begin with birth, how could it begin with a person who so obviously came from someone else?

And so it’s utterly bemusing, this business of finding the beginning. Perhaps some of that is due to the complicated web that is the small town in Mississippi where I grew up. The secrets and silences that build, that I already feel weighing on me, denying my ability to write some of the words the way that they could be written, the way they probably should be written. I’m currently watching Sharp Objects on Sundays with my husband; sometimes I white-knuckle my way through moments when Adora (absolutely brilliantly portrayed by Patricia Clarkson) and Camille interact, when Adora infantilizes and trivializes. It’s my family, my town, writ large. Nevermind that I obviously, too identify with Camille (also brilliantly acted by Amy Adams), the stifling presence of a life where everyone knows everything. Of course I don’t have quite the level of trauma present–I escaped many of the dangers of a small town by making myself small, allowing the suffocating rules of my parents to control me rather than rebelling (oh, the rebelling would come, but only later; for now there was fear, fear of teenage pregnancy of addiction of death of hell of rape of assault of every single thing that could be feared as a Christian girlchild with a fundamentalist family).

So I don’t know where it began or when it began or even how it began. I don’t know how I begin.

And yet I do.