Friday, October 30, 2009

Head meds

When I saw Carrie Fisher at the Berkeley Rep last year, I was very impressed with her candor about emotional struggles -- particularly dealing with bipolar disorder -- and her ups and downs with prescription medications.

I want to be just as frank about it. I've had a measure of both anxiety and depression throughout my life, and in the last year or so, I've tried treating it with medication.

Lexapro was the first. It drove me insane, made me suicidal. After a miserable few months, I got off it.

Then there was Zoloft. Helped with my emotional state, but the side effects sucked. After a while, I stopped taking it.

Lately it's been Zoloft and Wellbutrin. The side effects on this so far have been easier to handle, but still not exactly fun. Wellbutrin makes me manic, but I'm still getting used to an increased dosage. As my friend Andrea said: "Wait six weeks before freaking out." I'll do that.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

What are my own mitzvot?

In class last night we were discussing mitzvot -- the 613 commandments found in the Torah. Rabbi Adar said: "It's a world full of pain. Our job as Jews is to heal up a little bit of that. ... It doesn't entirely fix it, but it's better than it was. It's not incumbent on you to finish the job, but it's inherent on you to start."

So what are my mitzvot?

1) Honesty. By being candid, I hope to let others know they're not alone in this world, and that they can count on understanding and empathy from others.
2) Taking care of those I love. Being there for them, watching over them if need be, pushing them when necessary.
3) Using my talent(s).
4) Pushing myself to that next level. Never being satisfied with the status quo. Working to make my little corner of the world better.

I'm sure there's more, but that's a start for now.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Today's writing

Why the anger? Why the fury at anyone whose parents aren’t complete Charles Manson clones? I didn’t grow up in goddamned Mombasa, for Christ’s sake, born to parents who whored me out for a Kenyan nickel.


I drove down to Palo Alto today on a whim, had lunch, got a coffee, and then turned around and headed home. It felt good to strike out on the road. It's been a while since I did that by myself. Even though the Dumbarton Bridge was windy as hell and my car was wiggling all over the lanes, I'd do it again in a second.

Making headway on The Project. It's slow, yes, but steady. I think it's good work.

Monday, October 26, 2009

I was ruminating about approval and I found myself thinking: You can't live your life by committee.

That sometimes means making decisions that won't be well met by your friends, as a friend of mine did this week. Staged interventions don't work. People don't take votes before they act. Life is not a critique session, with everyone getting their share of input. Most of us, we're one-horse shows.

Climbing out

Managing depression means making adjustments to feel as good as possible. Since my depression is worst in the morning, I decided to leave the house early, even before Adam, and go to the gym.

I feel great! I don't expect to always feel this way, of course, but it's nice to know that a few changes here and there can make such a difference.

I also made tracks on The Project this weekend. I love being fired up about it again!

Random snippet I hope to use one day

She was dumb not because she was young but because it was a disease, a lifelong affliction that would cripple not her, but everyone around her.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Santa Cruz

So I'm revising The Project. It's one of the most challenging things I've ever done with my writing, and also the one with the most potential reward. I have some good suggestions and implementing them is a bitch. I agree with all of them, though.

I'm fired up again. I'm in Santa Cruz. There are flies in this coffee shop. I'm feeling inspired.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

When I'm depressed, it's often worst in the morning. My therapist mother tells me I'm not alone.

Last night was great -- my friend's awesome girlfriend took a bunch of us out to A Cote for his birthday, and it was a blast. This morning I just felt down and defeated.

"I wish I had more time to talk about this," Adam said, and I burst into tears.

The sun is coming out right now. I want to take that as a sign.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Five years

A bar on Telegraph, a stumble into Cody's. A drive into the rain, the hills, an awakening, a beginning.

Happy anniversary, baby.

Been a while

I feel like I've been pretty quiet around here. That's because I suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder, which can spin me downward during the fall and winter months. Fall is particularly difficult as it feels like a death -- the leaves dropping, the days contracting, the sky varying shades of gray. By the time winter hits, I can handle it a little better, and when signs of life begin showing up in late January and early February, I handle it better still.

So right now's the tough time. I've decided to try medication again to see if it can help me handle things. I've held off on writing about this, which is unusual for me and in the end I decided it wasn't a good decision. I'm better when I'm revealing, not hiding.

I'm also working to revise The Project, which is a challenge. However, that's a writing challenge, not an emotional one. Sure, it's my baby, but if I can make my baby better, I'm all for it.

Oliver, cross my fingers and knock on wood, seems well right now. Adam and I are doing great. Most of the troubles are in my own head. That's where I've got to work on them.

Friday, October 16, 2009


Last week I had a conversation with someone who had specific ideas for revising The Project. I'm taking those ideas seriously because I agree with them, and also because he has a handle on what readers want. He also is in the position of helping me put this work out into the world.

I haven't edited or written a word in the past week. I've just thought about what he said. It's large and daunting. These are holistic edits, not line edits, and those are always so much harder to implement.

I've been distracted and stressed out too, though I've found more clarity over this last week. We've had to pay particular attention to Oliver's health, and that watchfulness is tiring. I'm happy with the good results I've seen, though, and I plan to continue my vigilance.

Today is Shabbat, and I do plan to celebrate. On Wednesday, Rabbi Adar said: "Imagine your life without -- one thing. You decide what it is." (I'm paraphrasing, but the quote is accurate enough.) For me, that thing would be multiple things -- hostility, negativity, neurosis. I can't entirely eliminate them in a night, but I can at least try to set them aside.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

I just left a message for the very friendly people at Enterprise Rent-A-Car in Peterborough. I frequented their office quite a bit during my month at MacDowell, renting cars to go to Maine, Vermont, and ultimately back to Boston. I'm trying to get a duplicate receipt for my last rental, so I had to give them a call. We're playing phone tag.

It's so cool to be able to picture that office in that strip mall on Jaffrey Road. It's a trip when something three thousand miles away feels like it's next door.

Introduction to the Jewish Experience

Last night I began this class, which is offered by Lehrhaus Judaica and takes place at Congregation Beth El in Berkeley.

I got an email about it last month. I was sitting on my porch at MacDowell, watching the trees. I did that a lot. Sometimes the trees were friendly, their changing colors showcased in the sun. Other days they snarled. I think they were quiet when I found out about this class.

After a moment of hesitation, I registered. It wasn't some huge epiphany. I didn't stand up and scream into the woods that it was time to learn about my roots. But I am interested, and last night's class was terrific.

Tomorrow, Adam and I will celebrate Shabbat.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

I quit my anxiety group

And I bet you didn't even know I was in an anxiety group, did you?

I've been attending since April and been fairly skeptical much of the time. While theoretically I could see that the group-therapy process can be helpful, in reality it just didn't resonate much with me.

As I understand it, the concept behind group therapy is that a group is a microcosm of the world. Don't like your boss? You'll probably find someone like her in the therapy room.

The conclusion I came to, however, is this: Cut out the middleman and deal directly with the person who's bugging you. (Or whatever.) I walked out feeling no regrets.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Just thankful for the quiet

And the curry udon, and the wine, and absolutely for my kitty sleeping next to me. And for Adam coming home. And for this moment. Just this moment.