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Scrivener’s Diarrhea and Other Stuff

October 22, 2013

As some of you know, I write for another website where I actually make money from sharing my wit and wisdom. I don’t earn much per article, and I only get paid once a year (luckily it’s at Christmastime, which is how I’ve provided my family with gifts for the past several years), but over the course of a year I can amass a pretty decent sum.

This year, thanks in part to this blog, I’ve developed the discipline to write almost every day, which is a good thing for a writer because that is what writers DO. I haven’t faced writer’s block in well over a year. And while there’s the occasional stutter where I have trouble thinking of anything to write about, they are few and far between.

In fact, I have more trouble with shutting the hell up when I have nothing to say—I call it ‘scrivener’s diarrhea’, which is the writer’s version of verbal incontinence. It’s like an episode of Seinfeld, only in black-and-white form. Today is a good example of this phenomenon: I’m at home doing absolutely NOTHING but writing, and I don’t have a damn thing to talk about, except maybe for the series of articles I’m doing for the other website on dealing with mental illness at work.

That is coming along incredibly well, by the way. I just published the third of a four-part series, and people are coming out of the woodwork to talk about their own experiences with the stigma and sometimes outright hostility toward workers with mental health issues. There is perhaps nothing more gratifying to a writer than the knowledge that something s/he wrote has changed peoples’ lives, made them think, taught them something new, or touched their hearts.

Oh, yeah, and a paycheck is good too.

In other news, Will and I were up till 3 AM this morning watching a series of documentaries on the Science Channel about the dark side of medical science. It was called Dark and Disturbing, or something like that…….whatever it was, the subject matter was horrifying and thus absolutely fascinating. It was like looking at a train wreck: utterly repulsive, yet impossible to resist.

Not surprisingly, many of the stories revolved around psychiatry, which had many of its uglier moments back in the days of asylums and lobotomies. Gads, what mentally ill people went through in those days…..being drugged into zombified submission, strapped to beds or bound up in straitjackets, beaten, shocked, and otherwise treated worse than animals. But all that didn’t end with the advances of the 1950s; even as recently as forty or fifty years ago, there still wasn’t much doctors had to offer patients suffering from serious mental illness.

So when I went downstairs to take my nighttime meds, I breathed a prayer of gratitude that I live in an age when, despite the ever-present stigma and fear, people like me have access to good drugs and effective therapies that help us to live reasonably normal lives. Things could be a lot worse than having to remember to take a handful of pills twice a day, even though I bitch and moan about even THAT sometimes.

Like now, when I feel perfectly well and find myself doubting my diagnosis a little. Maybe I just had an existential crisis that lasted a couple of years and now I’m over it. Maybe it was all simply a matter of having my whole life unravel over the course of those long and painful months, and now that my stress levels have gone back down, I’m finally pulling my act back together. Maybe I simply crumbled under the strain, and now that I’m coming to accept that I’m not Superwoman, I’m finding some peace and I don’t really need all this drama.

It’s intriguing, but not enough for me to take the risk of screwing everything up by messing with my meds. For one thing, I don’t think it would be worth the gang-slap I’m sure to get; for another, I could simply be deluding myself by even entertaining the possibility that all the angst is/was nothing more than me being unable to cope with life. In either case, I’m a firm believer in not fixing stuff that’s not broke, so I will continue to resist the temptation to experiment. But sometimes…..sigh…….

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