Posts Tagged ‘inspiration’

Uncle Walt

For my last grad class we are reading classic poetry and I happened upon a poem by Walt Whitman called To a Stranger from his masterpiece Calamus. After reading it for the first time, it didn’t really grab my attention, but after discussing the poem as a class and being enlightened by other English minds–the poem definitely resonated with me.

Coping with my illness hasn’t been easy, sometimes I feel like I’m doomed and I refer to my psychotic experiences as being part of my plight. The biggest hurdle I had to overcome early on was letting go of my past. During my rambunctious teenage years, I hung with a fast crowd and did fast things. I drank too much, slept too little and experimented too much. As a result, I was disillusioned and confused as a young man.

I realized early on in my recovery that my old friends, guys who still drink heavily, were in fact triggers and sources of stress that hindered my continued recovery. As a result, I cut ties with almost all of them. I don’t know if this was a harsh decision. I probably would have found a way to cope with having them around if I really tried, but the easy way out in this case was my way out.

I miss them. I’ve seen one or two of them on the street in the city at different times and was forced to completely ignore them. How strange that felt, for both of us if they in fact saw me too. I stopped calling them or contacting them and my only interaction with the old group of guys was at our ten-year high school reunion two years ago, and at a friend’s golf outing once a summer.

Then this poem struck me and it captivated the way I feel about these lost and fractured relationships. Whitman wrote:

“You grew up with me, were a boy with me or a girl with me,/I ate with you and slept with you, your body has become not yours/only nor left my body mine only,/You give me the pleasure of your eyes, face, flesh, as we pass, you take/of my beard, breast, hands in return,/I am not to speak to you, I am to think of you when I sit alone or/wake at night alone,/I am to wait, I do not doubt I am to meet you again,/I am to see to it that I do not lose you.”

A lot of my fellow students said that they thought Walt was creepy by writing all of this about a stranger, but a few felt that maybe he knew the subject of this poem. That was how I read it, that he knew the person he was writing about but had damaged their relationship so irreparably that he couldn’t even bring himself to interact with him/her.

I have dreams where I’m walking through my old high school cafeteria and I pass a table that is occupied by all of my old buddies. I look at them, they look at me and I just raise up and hand and say, “hi,” and then walk off. Is there still a connection? Is there still a bond between some of us, any of us? Has time and my psychotic past damaged the relationships irreparably? I don’t know the answer to any of those questions.

The only way to find the answer is to try to rekindle these ancient connections. I think about coming forth to the old guys with everything I’ve been through, my run-ins with the law, my multiple trips across country, my peculiar behavior, but what good would it do? I still have to sit at bars with them and stare at my glass of water while they pound Vodka and Red Bull. I still have to stand idly by while they pick a fight with the guys standing at the pool table. I’m not that person anymore, nor will I ever be.

So my contact with the old guys is through my words on this page. It is an inhuman contact, one that once was but will probably never be again. How sad that makes me. I think of them like Uncle Walt does his stranger; we once were companions but now mere faceless memories.

Married Life

Well, I tied the knot last Sunday night. The wedding was beautiful which is a testament to Jamie and all of her hard work and tireless planning. Every last detail was carried out to a T, and the wedding and celebration was a night we will never forget.

I know I was ready for this momentous step in our relationship. Never for a second did I second-guessed my decision to spend the rest of my life with Jamie. I do notice my ring finger a little more though. I have never wore rings so the bling on my finger feels a bit heavy and out-of-place. Other than that, everything is great! I also notice others’ rings. I find that I look to see if people I run into have wedding rings on. If they do, I wonder what their wedding was like. Was it as special and unforgettable as ours?

I am posting from Maui. We are on our honeymoon. I found this week, when I am talking to someone else and referring to Jamie as my wife, it is also taking some getting used to. She still signs her receipt with her maiden name because she hasn’t changed her credit cards yet. So I guess it will take some getting used to on both our parts.

The honeymoon has been spectacular. As always, Jamie pushes me to limits I never thought possible. She allows me to explore adventures that previously I would shy away from. Today, for instance, we saw the sunrise from the summit of the largest dormant volcano in the world. From 10,000 feet, I took in a wonder that made me appreciate nature in all its glory. When you see the Hawaiian sunrise from 10,000 feet you forget about everything else. For a moment, you are suspended in time and place totally captivated by what you are seeing which makes all your troubles and concerns an afterthought.

After the sunrise, we biked down the volcano at break-neck speeds. The trip was 30 miles and we did it at about 25 mph. Again, I would never have taken on such an adventure without Jamie coaxing me to do so and challenging me along the way. It was wonderful.

I am enjoying life and am a very fortunate man to have found such an incredible wife that encourages me to explore new heights and accomplish new and challenging feats.

Birthday Thoughts

Well, today is my birthday. I am 31 years-old. I don’t feel any older. After 27, they all feel about the same. I’m now counting down the hours to my wedding which is taking place on Sunday night. This time next week I will be on a beach in Maui for my honeymoon. I can’t wait.

Today was really a day of great reflection. Jamie and I spent the night at her mother’s and I woke up early to the sounds of Jamie’s and Donna’s voices in unison singing ‘happy birthday’ to me. It was funny and heartfelt and I enjoyed it. I’m really looking forward to getting married because I am inheriting a great family. Donna has welcomed me with open arms since the first time I met the family and I can’t wait to call her ‘mom.’

I took this day to reflect on my 20′s and think ahead to what the rest of my 30′s will be like. I’d have to say that my 20′s was a decade of tumult. I spent the first five years floating around without any real responsibilities or goals. The first half of my 20′s could be described as dreams unmet or unfulfilled. Partly because I was young and partly because of the onset of my illness, my dreams were grandiose and pollyannish. I aspired to be a film writer in Hollywood without any real training or effort. And while things might happen that way for a very select few, I had to curtail my dreams to more realistic endeavors as the decade wore on.

After spending some wasted time in my Great Aunt’s West LA mansion trying to make it as a screenwriter, I came home to focus on other ambitions. I thought I would be a firefighter for a while and then settled on Grad School about the time my medication and therapy finally took effect. For the most part though, during my 20′s, I bounced around from one idea to the next without ever really finding a passion or connection with any one dream or aspiration.

Then, when I hit 30, things started to come into focus. I was dating Jamie for a while and realized that I wanted not only to spend the rest of my life with her, but also to start a family with her. I decided that my talents and skills would be best served in the teaching profession, inspiring young children in their academic growth and development. So, for the first time in my life, I had focus and direction.

As the 20′s were years of tumult, my 30′s will be years of great change and variation. Already, within the next 2 to 3 years, I will finally have a career, a new wife and hopefully a child on the way. How could life change any more for me? So how do I prepare for all this? This is a question that keeps my up some nights. There is no blueprint or road map that can guide me on the journey on which I am about to embark. I just have to keep my head and take on each challenge as it comes. I know this sounds like a broken record because I have made reference to confronting challenges in the same way in previous posts, but it’s really all I can do.

I have my brother and brother-in-law as good role models as I watch them take on their challenging fatherly duties when we all get together. If I can be the kind and selfless father that they have become, I will be in good shape. So as I confront this decade of great flux, I hope only that I remain healthy both physically and emotionally so that I can enjoy all life has to offer as a new husband and, one day, a proud and confident father.

The Chicago Marathon

The alarm went off at 6am; there was no sign of the sun beaming through the bedroom windows. “Come-on honey, we have to get out there before 7, you need to get up now.” For the next twenty minutes Jamie got ready for the day while I kept hitting my internal snooze button. Finally, at 6:25 she said, “I’m walking out the door in five minutes with or without you.” This is her customary line on many an early morning when I can’t seem to drag myself out of bed. I popped up knowing I was now under the gun and I didn’t want to miss what would be a very pleasurable and memorable experience. Jamie is special events manager for a non profit organization that raises money for respiratory health. Today was the Chicago marathon, one of the biggest days in her organization. People pledge money to run in her organization’s name, usually because they either know someone or have lost someone close due to lung cancer. Jamie put together a whole weekend of events for the runners including a Friday night dinner and a tent in the charity block of the marathon course. Jamie had lined up about a dozen volunteers to help her team cheer on all the runners. I was part of her team by default because she needed someone to drive the van and help her assemble the tent. But more than her requesting my assistance this Sunday, which included our early morning departure from our apartment and a six-hour occupation at the 14-mile mark of the race; I wanted to be there. I was out at mile six last year when Jamie completed her first marathon. It meant a lot to me to see her overcome such an insurmountable challenge, and I wanted to be there this year for the runners because they deserve support. I never thought I would be so fulfilled by helping out this year. As the first heap approached, I marveled at the athleticism these athletes were exhibiting. They were running under a six-minute-mile pace. In fact, due in part to the frosty Chicago temperature Sunday morning, the first-place runner set the Chicago marathon course record. Although the low 40 degree weather numbed my hands and toes, it was the perfect environment for the runners. As we yelled our words of encouragement from the street side with our breath visible, the runners streaked by in shorts and tank-tops seemingly unaffected by the elements. As the second heap approached, I started clapping my hands and making a little more noise and by the next heap, I was like a crazed Bleacher Bum at Wrigley Field, wanting my cheers to be heard from miles away. I was hooked, I became transfixed by the idea of cheering for perfect strangers, people I had never met before and would never come to know, because their responses to my encouragement were intoxicating. Many runners emblazon their names across their chests so that the cheering section could root them on. When I called out their names, they were instantly jolted with energy, their adrenaline rush apparent by their ear-to-ear grins as they trekked on by. Some of them came over and gave me and Jamie’s team high fives. The camaraderie we felt by instilling needed life and enthusiasm into these instant friends was like a feeling I have never known. Immediately my stomach jumped up into my throat, I got choked up and I thought, what a way for people to come together for a great cause. As the runners scrapped to reach their final destinations with determination and focus, we were a part of the struggle. We were there urging them on as they searched for inspiration and found it in the many cheering sections along the way. The whole event was special and inspirational to me and my co-cheerers. Jamie was glad I was a part of it and I was glad she needed my help because it is something I will gladly do for years to come, that is if I’m not on the other end of the cheering section, fighting and clawing for my very own marathon time!

Perceiving is Often Misperceiving

I just finished another very productive session with my therapist. I feel like I had a breakthrough this week. As many of you know, one of the hardest parts about dealing with a mental illness is the public’s perception of how individuals with mental illnesses act and immerse themselves into society. Many feel that individuals with mental illnesses cannot function and should be relegated to hospitals and inpatient care facilities without the opportunities that mainstream “healthy” people have. Since my diagnosis I’ve been trying to negate these stereotypical perceptions. I’ve completed one masters degree and am almost done with a second, I have worked, and I have forged meaningful relationships, one with my fiance that will culminate in marriage in December. I have met challenges head on in an attempt to dissuade the notion that people with mental illnesses are largely low functioning individuals.

One of my vices as I cope with my illness however, is always attributing stereotypical qualities to people I know. That is to say, I often believe that my extended friends and family, who do not know the details of my illness, would judge me upon finding out what I’ve been through. I’ve shied away from reconnecting with my group of friends for fear that they wouldn’t accept a troubled and “disabled” person back into the mix. In this case, my perceptions were misperceptions. As I related to Dr. Levinson, my closest friend from high school put together a golf outing in his father’s name a couple of weeks ago. Mike’s dad passed away from a stroke in 2005. The outing raises money for stroke research at a Chicago hospital. Mike’s dad had a life-long mission of assisting those in need. He was there for countless individuals including me in 2003 when I was psychotic and directionless. He sat down with me and we discussed some of the disturbing thoughts and feelings I was having at the time. He also let me help out in his office which gave my life needed purpose. When he died suddenly I was saddened and immediately wanted to share with Mike how his father was there for me in a time of crisis. Again, due to my perceptions, I never thought the time was right to do so.

Mike sent out an email after the outing thanking everyone for his support. He then mentioned that he would be collecting letters and emails detailing memories people had of his father. I thought that this was the right time and opportunity to clear the air. Facing a possible callus and judgemental response, (which is what I thought would happen), I sent a long, heartfelt email to Mike disclosing not only my illness, but the times his father was by my side while I contended with it. I told my dad about the email and he said I should entertain the possibility that Mike wouldn’t have the depth or understanding to respond to my emotional email. I told my dad it just felt good relating my illness and my memories with him and if his response was no response at all, I would be okay with that. Again, my perception was that Mike wouldn’t know quite what to say.

I knew Mike as a teenager but haven’t really known him as an adult. Seeing the ways I’ve matured into a deep and introspective individual, I hope Mike had experienced a similar transformation, especially after losing his best friend, his father prematurely. Mike sent an email back the next day thanking me for my kind words. His response was better than I ever could have hoped for. Not only was he supportive of me and what I went through, but he was completely accepting and open about my situation. He said his father never shared with him what I was going through, which was the type of loyal and trustworthy person he was, but Mike sensed something was up with me as early as our college years, during my first times of depression. He said he figured I’d tell him about my issues when the time was right, and this week the time was right. He said he was glad that I cleared the air and that he always considered us “the closest of friends.” It felt heart warming to have someone who I’ve always respected and admired in my corner. I was glad that I decided to be open with Mike. He said that he hopes we can catch up in the near future and I am definitely going to take him up on that. He too is engaged and I think it might be fun to reintroduce ourselves as adults with our future wives by our sides so that we can be a part of each other’s present, not just memories in each other’s past.

I’m really glad I took this huge step. It says a lot in terms of my development as a person coping with a mental illness. I have to remember that my worst fears and concerns about friends and family members not understanding my journey or not being receptive to my current situation are largely misperceptions.

Books are How I cope…

I’ve changed the theme of my blog in an effort to reflect on yet another way that I cope with my illness. Writing is very therapeutic for me, spending time with family and friends also helps me contend with my illness; but I think the biggest coping mechanism I have is reading. When I was in a group home shortly after my diagnosis in ’03, I was surrounded by individuals suffering from their own mental illnesses. I was in a desolate ward-like environment where cockroaches scampered across the community bathroom floors and I felt stuck and out of place. According to my treatment plan, I would have to spend at the very least, the next six months in EHP or Northwestern Hospital’s Emergency Housing Program. The goal of the ward is to get consumers stable enough to go out into the world and create a safe and clean home for themselves. I was still having minor symptoms at the time as I settled into a med treatment program where I was taking my prescribed dose of Seroquel every night. While I waited for the medicine to take effect, wondering if it ever would, I became consumed by literature. First, I delved into an old Norton’s Anthology that I had since studying Ancient Medieval Literature in college and I focused on completing a reading of the Iliad for the first time in my life. While I was studying English in undergrad, reading classic literature always seemed like a chore for me; now it was a productive way to separate myself from the here and now, and the realities that were invading my otherwise Utopian existence. In a secluded room in EHP, surrounded by homeless people who smelled like urine and vomit, I closed myself off from the real world and immersed myself in Homer’s prose. It was a needed escape from the beaten-down and broken existence I thought I was living. What it taught me was that there is always an escape from difficult circumstances–you just have to find yours. Later in treatment when people would discuss their keys to recovery, I always included escaping reality with a good fiction novel. Since that time in EHP, I am never without a book. I’ve read all sorts of authors of all different genres and the result is always the same; temporary admittance into a far off fantastical land where made up scenarios play themselves out vividly in my conscious mind. I love it! I wish everyone could find something that they do that allows them to transcend reality into a wonderful place and time where they don’t have to worry about the realities of their SSDI checks not coming or their unsympathetic boss not understanding their plight. I’ve recently decided to make books my life as I pursue a career as an English teacher. I can’t think of a more rewarding position than assisting young minds to engage in a work of literature and explore the deeper meanings in the texts. I hope that I can implore at least some of my students to escape into the world of fiction and embrace the creativity that geniuses harness while exploring their own creative minds in the process. Reading is life for me, but perhaps more importantly, it has allowed me to keep my symptoms at bay while I delve into circumstances that force me to think of things far greater than myself.

True Love–a Respite for Suicide…

I slept until my eyes popped open this morning. The sun was rushing through the window, it was a beautiful day. Jamie and I spent the night in the suburbs at her mother’s house, (her childhood home), like we do most weekends. Jamie’s mom was widowed two years ago and we think it’s important to keep her company on weekends. Jamie was already dressed and ready to go when my feet hit the floor and I sat at the edge of the bed, trying to get my bearings.

“We have to go register today,” she said, enthusiastically. It was another pre-wedding task that she was hoping to knock off the list. I stumbled into the bathroom, brushed my teeth, put on some clothes and we were off to the suburban mecca that is known as Bedbath and Beyond.

A nice middle aged lady set up our registration and handed me the gun so that I could scan the items we wanted. It wasn’t the exact place I wanted to be on a beautiful Sunday. Hitting the gym, laying at my sister-in-law’s pool and going for a long run all crossed my mind before the registry took place, but I was with Jamie and this was important to her, so in turn, it became important to me.

After a Starbucks which I picked up next to the store, I was ready for the action. We strolled through the store scanning item after item. I was asked my opinion on a few objects about which I really didn’t have an opinion, but I did my best to seem interested and supportive. The day was going well, especially since Jamie had a manicure scheduled for the afternoon which meant I would in fact have time to get to the gym.

While Jamie was taking a bathroom break, I ambled through the aisles. I turned a corner and came literally face-to-face with a childhood friend’s mother and father. Our eyes met and no greeting was exchanged as we past each other. I had an empty feeling in the pit of my stomach following our awkward glances. The friend of mine whose parents it was actually killed himself a few years back. I remember hearing about it while I was at my group home in the city in the summer of 2004. My father shared the news with me while we were sitting on a park bench.

Hearing about Eric’s suicide was especially difficult for me considering I had contended with suicidal thoughts myself during my first bout of depression while I was an undergrad at Beloit College. Something kept me going through this horrifying time. It was something different each day, the same things that bring me enjoyment and satisfaction today were the things that kept me striving for a better tomorrow back then. Some days it was working out, getting ready for the upcoming basketball season for a team on which I was recently voted captain. Some days it was finishing a good novel that I was halfway into. At that time it was Bill Bradley’s biography, or Phil Jackson’s Sacred Hoops. Often times while I was riding down the highway, headed to the gym where I prepared for the upcoming basketball season, I would think about my family, and that kept me driving straight rather than turning into the median at 70 mph.

After seeing Eric’s parents, I thought about the hurt and anguish they must feel on a daily basis. I wondered how they coped with all of the heartache, knowing that each person they past who knew Eric from the neighborhood, had the same thoughts on their minds–how do you deal with this loss? Each day must be a chore for them as they endure the pain of losing their son at such a young age.

Later during the wedding shopping spree, I walked outside for a moment to throw my empty Starbucks cup away and they drove by the front of the store, our eyes met yet again. It was as awkward as the first encounter. I didn’t acknowledge them because I didn’t quite know how to do so. What do you say to people when your only thoughts are with their deceased son?

I walked back to where Jamie was looking at a few blenders. “Do you like the gray one or the black one?” Such a simple question in such a blessed life…

“I like the gray one,” I said.

“You can use these for your smoothies,” she commented.

 I looked at her as she made her way down another aisle. I wondered if Eric’s parents knew how close I was to sharing their son’s fate. Then I thought about my life now and what I have in Jamie, my future bride; and all I could think about was how lucky and fortunate I am for sticking it out and finding true love and happiness that brighten my life each and every day.

His Genius Will be Missed

The Great John Hughes

The Great John Hughes

We were sitting around my sister-in-law’s parents’ kitchen table last night, having great conversation and sharing laughter. The get together was celebratory because my brother and his wife are expecting. Though I’m not supposed to share the news yet, (she is only nine weeks along), I couldn’t help myself. I think their secret will be safe in the blogosphere.

My brother’s good buddy Chris was in from Michigan with his girlfriend, and when we all are together, there is never a shortage of great stories and humor. At one point during the evening, the conversation shifted to the recently departed, John Hughes. We were discussing his many classic movies and I commented that his imprint on the movie industry was unprecedented. Ben Stein said in an interview that Hughes was to present-day cinema what Shakespeare was to Elizabethan literature. Although a lofty comparison, I think he is right.

During a symptomatic time my junior year in college, I went through an extended period, which lasted until the early stages of my recovery four years later, where I was convinced that I would be a film writer. I used Hughe’s classics like Ferris Beuller’s Day off and the Breakfast Club, set on the North Shore of Chicago where I grew up, as inspiration for the many scripts I started and never finished during that time. I watched these movies over and over again to try to capture the essence of adolescence like Hughes did time and again. I wanted my characters to be funny and authentic like Ferris. What I found was that it was easy to be extremely creative for short bursts of time. I would write a couple of pages of compelling prose only to lose interest after about a half hour when I would go for one of my custom eight-mile-midnight runs.

The sad aspect of Hughes’ existence was that, like so many other creative geniuses, he finished out his life in solitude as a recluse. At the time of his death, he hadn’t written or directed a movie since 1991. I’ve talked about the price of heightened creativity on this blog before. For me, it is the risk of being unstable and causing harm to myself, for others it is the risk of being antisocial and disassociated with society. I wonder why creative people are often plagued by debilitating vices that color their existence.

Hughes will forever be an inspiration to me. His movies will live in infamy much like his brilliant spirit. I’m thankful that I was able to witness his genius because it inspired me and countless others to create and imagine on a large scale. I don’t know if my illness will ever allow for me to fulfill my persistent dream of being recognized for a creative work, but every time I see one of Hughes’ films, I will be moved to work on a masterpiece that will be timeless like so many of his installments.

Who’s Running With Me?

I had a very productive session with my therapist, Dr. Levinson today. I find lately that I bring up a lot of the issues I discuss on this forum. Often, I am thinking about the titles of my posts and delving into the topics that I have written about. All in all I think that I have a lot more to say these days because of this new outlet.

Today I discussed the small blogging community that I have immersed myself in since starting this site. I talked about inspirational blogs I have found, many of which are linked on this page, and also disturbing blogs that I have read recently. One of the troubles I had while living in an outpatient care program at the Lawson House YMCA in Chicago was that the people surrounding me in the group home seemed a lot worse off than I was. They were mostly victims of substance abuse that had lived in poverty for a long time and had found their way to the Y usually through intervention programs. They did not have strong support teams in their corner like I have because they were estranged from their families. These are the same people that surround me at Psych Rehab, where I go for my biweekly shot. I look around and I wonder if I am an anomaly because of the success I have had since my treatment began. And I wonder if I’m the only one…

So I started the blog to find a community of people that have had the same success with stability and treatment that I have had. In large part I have found these people, but I also find people who struggle with daily delusions and disturbing thoughts, which they relate in their blogs, and it is quite upsetting to hear that people contending with mental illness can’t recover from the psychosis that plagued all of us at one point in time. There was a post I came across where a consumer was writing from a psych ward. She was extremely delusional and her entry, while real and cutting edge, made my heart bleed. Sometimes I wonder if I’m running a race with a community of supporters, only to find that when I reach the finish line, I am all alone.

I guess what I’m asking you, the blogging community, is to not only read what I have to say and hopefully find some insight in my words, but also share your success stories with me. I know I’ve found some of you that are doing wonderful things in recovery but I’d like to hear from more of you, so that I know I am not running this race all by myself. Feel free to drop me a line and tell me about achieving stability, it would be much appreciated and extremely inspirational. Thanks for stopping by!

The Price of Heightened Creativity

I just finished reading Steve Lopez’s The Soloist, a book about the struggles of a Juliard-trained musician contending with Schizophrenia. Nathanial Ayers combats his illness with a deep and undying love of classical music. He still has moments of clarity where he can create a masterful sound as he plunges into Beethoven movements on his cello or violin. But his hopeful moments are always followed by a submergence into the depths of despair that have him preferring a life on the streets to an apartment and psychiatric treatment that Mr. Lopez finds for him.

Ayers’ plight reminded me a lot of my own. During times of stability, I was moved by a profound and passionate love for literature and written expression. I would lose myself in masterpieces like Cather in the Rye, often creating my own fictional versions of the classic work. My characters were layered and multi-dimensional, often representing people whose paths I crossed during my youth or travails across country. During times of mania, much like Ayers, I experienced augmented creativity that allowed me to see the prose I constructed before my very eyes.

Research has proved that there can be a link between mania and creativity which speaks to the many artists, writers and musicians, including Ayers and the great Ernest Hemingway who were creative geniuses while struggling with mental illness.

My regret is that I never held on to any of my work during my manic episodes in Vegas and LA. When I finally accepted treatment and got well, I disposed of everything I wrote when I was symptomatic, fearing that it would remind me too much of troubled times.

One creative flourish in particular documented a disillusioned teenager seeking refuge in a trip across the country to find meaning and purpose in his life. He stays with a relative in Vegas where he gets caught up in a dangerous lifestyle, becoming a regular at the sports book and various casinos. His cousin, who is a member of the FBI, helps him get back on track and find respite to his tormented existence in his loving family. I wrote it during a stay at an impatient care facility in Texas and left it there when I was set to return home to Chicago.

Today I struggle to find inspiration for my creativity. My only real writing outlet is this blog. Off the medicine I can paint elaborate landscapes with my prose. I can imagine multi-faceted characters and dense plots riddled with exciting twists and turns. On my meds I am constrained by here-and-now realities, missing the ability to dream and conjure. The trade-off is that now, unlike Ayers who refuses medication throughout the book, I am not plagued by periods of confusion and rage. I do not experience downward spirals where I put my life in danger. I am not burdened by nights where I have no other place to lay my head than my car pulled off on the shoulder of a dark and desolate inter-state. I guess creativity is a small price to pay for a safe and harmonious existence.

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