Namo amitabha Buddhaya, y'all.
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Thursday, January 14, 2010

And Now For Something Really Scary

I have to admit I haven't seen a lot of scary movies lately. This is unusual, because I love scary movies. I think I've been too scared in real life to bother with scary movies. Why buy fear prepackaged at the theater when you can get it for free just by waking up in the morning, is what I'm thinking.

You see, I'm having this little problem with anxiety. Well, make that a great big problem with sharp pointy teeth. Remember Scaley, my nervous wreck of a T-rex that shows up whenever I'm trying to write query letters and howls about the impending apocalypse? Well, he has an older brother, and this guy is sweating everything from getting fired to not getting fired to imminent death to the horrors of living to be 97 to buying a new car to never being able to afford a new car and on and on and on. Set this guy off and he won't shut up without the use of prescription medication. And unfortunately I don't know what sets him off. Sometimes I wake up and he's right there in bed with me. Sometimes I go days without seeing him. I don't even know what to call him, though if I did it wouldn't be something as cute as Scaley. He Who Shall Not Be Named, perhaps.

The weird thing is, when I'm crawling with anxiety (or rather, when it's crawling all over me, like, I dunno, angry red ants or something) it's impossible to imagine that there's ever been a time I haven't been crawling with anxiety. When I'm not in that mode, having ever been in that mode seems completely ridiculous. I mean, of course anything can happen at any moment but I really don't THINK I'm about to get fired, die, not die, or need a new car. And even if I did, would it be the end of the world? No. But all logic flies out the window when this is going on. It's just Imminent Doom and to hell with anything you say to the contrary.

Well, you would say something to the contrary, except that you don't know this is going on. I don't bother to tell you. On the outside I probably appear Quite Normal, or as normal as a fat lesbian Buddhist Democrat in Dallas ever manages to look. If you could look inside my brain, though, you'd probably need to sit down for a minute. And through it all I keep going to work, swimming, doing what I need to do. I'm not sure how some days, but I do it.

It's called the "kindling effect". See, bipolar disorder is a lot like epilepsy (!), which is why a lot of the drugs they use to treat it are epilepsy drugs. If you have an epileptic seizure, that somehow lays the foundation in your brain to have more seizures, so the more you have, the more you're likely to have. At first something sets them off, like flashing lights (though that may be a myth) or being startled. If you have enough of them, though, they can start happening all by themselves. For no reason. Purely at random. Which is why epilepsy is such a hard disease to treat and why they'll do crazy things like cut your brain in half at the corpus callosum to stop the seizures. I mean, really, that's pretty radical.

Anyway, I think this may be what's happening to me. I think maybe the anxiety has started to happen all by itself, at random. And this is bad, because--well, hell, it's bad for all kinds of reasons. The good news is that the aforementioned prescription meds definitely do help. The bad news is, when I don't take them, or it's a weekend and there's less structure around to steer me from point A to point B, it gets lots worse. It gets to where I need to make myself lists on a Saturday just so I won't wander around bumping into things and wondering what in hell I'm supposed to do now. Ain't mental illness grand?

The only positive, if it can be said to be positive, is that Scaley seems to have gone into remission. Or rather, there's so much anxiety in the house that what little gets generated by writing query letters gets lost in the flood. So I've knocked a lot of them out lately. I dunno how many, I'm not really counting, but I think I have at least seven or eight of them out there being ripe at the moment. So hey, literary agent checking out my blog, how you doin', request a few sample chapters and throw me a bone, okay? Rather, throw Scaley the bone. I'll send the sample chapters.

One of the most valuable things I learned from Buddhism is that you can't trust your brain. It will lie to you. Mine is lying to me so much that I have to tune it out completely to get anything at all done. So, again trying to stay positive here, maybe I'll reach enlightenment sooner. I mean, if you can't trust your brain, what can you trust? Maybe the ultimate reality of all things isn't ultimate, or even real. Certainly nothing setting off the anxiety is real or I'd be dead, undead, fired, not fired and have a new car all at the same time.

Barring that, though, I think I'll go in my room and lie down.

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