In streets I never thought I should revisit
When I left my body on a distant shore.”
--T.S. Eliot, Little Gidding
Many of you have probably noticed that I haven’t been blogging recently. As this situation is likely to continue for awhile yet, I thought it would be good to at least let you know what’s going on.
Basically, I haven’t been doing very well physically or mentally for the past couple months, to the extent that my ability to concentrate on reading and writing for this blog has been very compromised. The good news is these problems have nothing to do with my recent heart surgery and aren’t life-threatening or anything like that. In a nutshell, I’m having problems with pretty severe depression and a return of old post-traumatic stress symptoms. I guess they may have been triggered by the surgery, but their real roots go back a long ways before that. Physically, everything is fine (except for some annoying nerve impingement problems caused by bad spinal arthritis that I’ve also had for years, but which is now producing symptoms).
I’ve been hoping the depression and anxiety would be short-term problems that would respond quickly to tweaking my medications a little, but no such luck so far. The doc even suggested electroconvulsive ("shock") therapy as a potential quick fix. But after I explained why one of my favorite movies is One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, he dropped that suggestion.
It’s funny how easy it was for me to assume for many years that my weight was keeping me stuck in these problems, and that once I lost the weight, I wouldn’t have the problems anymore. That was true enough for the last three years or so, and I admit I’ve been a bit shocked by how strongly they’ve reasserted themselves again all of a sudden.
These days I find myself reading some of my own articles about managing stress, boosting self-esteem, and overcoming negative feelings and thoughts, and wondering why I can’t do those things myself very well right now.
And why I can’t just shrug off all the feelings of guilt and shame and fear attached to many of my memories, when my adult mind knows that none of that is worth carrying around all this time and letting it ruin the present. After all, there aren’t a lot of people on this planet who know more than I do, both academically and through personal experience, about these problems and how to deal with them. But knowing, obviously, is not the same thing as doing, and it seems to be time for me to work on the doing part again.
In the meantime, I’m afraid, I don’t have the mental energy or capacity to stay focused on one thing long enough to do the research and writing it takes to produce a couple of blog posts every week—and having writing deadlines really pushes my anxiety level through the roof when I’m not functioning well, which just makes everything even worse.
It seems to me there could be a way to make something worthwhile come out of this situation. Assuming that I’m not the only one around here who struggles with depression, PTSD, self-esteem issues, etc., I could write occasional blogs about my experiences dealing with this stuff now, and others could share some of their experiences/suggestions in the comments. If we all work on not being too morbid, overly personal, or graphic, hopefully some helpful things will be said.
What do you think? Would that be worth trying?