I really am mentally ill

I’ve been reading a book of short stories and I got to thinking about my own writing of short stories over the past 20 some years. Some were written out, along with poems, and some were on discs. I’ve nearly turned the house upside down, but I am faced with  the horrible realization that, somewhere, in the last two years, I made the decision to throw them all out. Gone are my stories about Gus and Mona, and the re-telling of O’Henry’s Gift of the Magi between two gay recovery men in Hollywood. Gone too is the story of the young Israeli I met in Luxembourg who told me of the tale of reprisals on the Golan. Gone is the drunk-a-louge of John the Baptist. Gone is the story I wrote about the gods on Maui. Pfft. All tossed in a manic fit of, what, I don’t know, some sort of righteous purging of my past.

I also tossed my writings from “Where I sit” that I penned weekly for the bulletin at St. Augustine’s. Granted not all of it was pulitzer prize worthy, but it was a window into my working over the 6 years I was there. Poof. All gone. What on earth was I thinking?

I wasn’t thinking. A force beneath my rational self — my sub-rational self — seemed to be in control  of my actions and my thoughts. There was a righteousness to my thoughts, a desperation to my deeds. How I could so blithely toss months of creativity in such an impulsive gesture leaves me speechless. I don’t know that I would mourn the passing of a person as much as I mourn the passing of my past writings. The feelings of grief seem similar.

For the past 20 years, I was tagged with the label of being manic depressive. While working at Orange county, the symptoms seemed pretty flagrant. I was being controlled by medication, as long as took it per prescription, little realizing that the medications were doing a number on my kidneys and overall physical stability. Only when I moved to Phoenix did I find out the extent to which I was damaged by the lithium and the depakote. Curses on you, Kaiser.

Lately, having been weaned off of all psychotropic meds, save Remeron,  thought myself to be cured. I didn’t think I’d had any noteworthy manic episodes. My depression was more disthymic than out-and-out clinical depression. Perhaps I’ve outgrown my mental illness, I thought. Being retired and coping with a myriad of physical ailments seems to have shoved my bipolar disease into the shadows.  Well, in the shadows the evil lurks and springs out to wreck havoc in my life when I am unawares. Really and truly, woe is me.

So, I sit in sadness and helplessness. It can’t be fixed. I can be distracted, but in the end I am face to face with the loss: ah-we, ah-we.


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