Fear stops me like a two by four to the back of the head. Real fear. Not anxiety, not nervousness, not hesitation. The kind of fear that rushes to a moment of quiet like children playing musical chairs. Real Fear. Life or Death Fear. My fear has been the writers-block-in-residence for the past fourteen days. My fear was a distraction; then my fear developed into an annoyance; then fear and I were bedfellows, fear being the last thing at night and first thing upon waking that knocked on my mind’s front door. What is my fear? I’m afraid I’m dying.
As you know, in November, 2008 I was classified as bipolar. This determination included established and biased reasoning for my life on a seesaw: I was predisposed to life as a yo-yo by genetic roulette. This milestone was marked by a simple psychiatric ah-ha. Their specialty professes its ideological conjecture as formative and their ignorance evidenced by the devastating news that they can’t offer a cure, or even a likely protocol. Instead they offer an indifferent forecast of pharmaceutical trials often resulting in failure and cautioned of a likely future weathering mania-driven misjudgments followed by the doomed deciension into a grey melancholia exacerbated by the digestion of manic destruction and attempted repair. And then there’s that overcast statistic regarding effectual suicides: 40%.
Fear immediately hit the brakes and sent my entire life crashing headlong into the windshield. Fear sat immobilized by truths: I’ll only be free of madness if I’m one of four out of ten. Fear’s rationale was logical and pragmatic; why endure decades of depression and delirium only to draw the same conclusion? I’d decided to ignore Fear’s advice and try, one day at a time, to continue my membership in the sixty percent club.
But two months ago despite my determined effort to avoid that 40%, a wholly separate yet equally incurable physical condition reappeared. Its symptoms are aggravated and impairing; inexplicable weight gain (45 pounds in six weeks); undermining fatigue; breathlessness following exertion; intentional harboring of fluid forced from arteries and causes swelling and immobility. But just like the Rambler my father owned in the early sixties, no one could determine the cause of the knocking. That is, until the 1959 V-8 wagon blew a cylinder and sent my father’s first love to every car’s destiny: an auto scrap yard seen from the interstate. Will my erosion be similar? An unidentifiable murmur like a whispered yet repeated rumor one day erupts and immediately my initial litany of enigmatic symptoms is sensible, albeit much too late for prevention and most likely too late for intervention.
I’ve been blindsided by these illnesses and worse, hobbled by their improbable cures. This simply was not my life’s expected outcome. Or so I believed until very recently when I remembered what a mentor once suggested as a remedy to writer’s block:
“Writer’s block excuses lazy writers; Write about what’s preventing you from writing; Suddenly you’re mindlessly writing and only when you pause do you remember what was prohibiting your expression, but you can’t remember why. When you can’t write, you must write. The living face death every day — and then go about living!”