Sunday, April 22, 2007

The Drug Culture

Back in the 60's, there was a thing called the "drug culture." I'm not so sure that should have been the official era. What was illegal then, and in some ways morally appalling, we accept now days. Sure it's not the illegal stuff that many of the hippies were doing, but are we any different?

I've tried to not do the drug "therapies" for the depression or the MS. Honestly, I'm scared of the side effects. But I had to give in. It was too much to deal with. Benefit? Lack of appetite. So I'm hoping for the 8 pack that the 16 year old has...he doesn't work out so it's a genetics thing. i should be so lucky.

So I've been doing the drug thing for the depression for a week now. It's no big deal except that I feel...well, crappy but good. In some respects my brain still wants me to be depressed. My body feels OK - a little tired. But overall I don't feel anything. So I feel little cheated. I don't feel giddy and peppy...and high like a hippy. I don't feel low or blue or bummed. I feel...neutral.

I want to be depressed, but can't be. I want to be happy, but can't be. I want to be me, but don't feel like I am. i honestly don't know what I feel. Do I even feel? Well, yes, because I slammed by knee with a hammer today. I FELT that. But I don't feel...emotionally. I'm not numb like MS is supposed to do with the extremeties. I feel emotionally neutral

I had to say farewell to the 16 year old yesterday but felt like it was OK not to be sad. Not that I won't see him again, but it was a moment that I wanted to share with him and would be...empty... to be without him for a while.

This is why I hate the drugs. I want to feel. I just don't to feel depressed all the time. My god, I feel like Spock. No emotions. But isn't that what makes us human? Are we allowing the drugs - and by using them, making excuses...not to be human? What kind of culture are we creating?

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Learning Something New Everyday

A few posts back, I wrote that I didn't understand the depths of Spalding Gray's depression that could cause him to take his life. He was such a creative and happy person by all accounts. How could one get that depressed?

Yesterday, I experienced my worst bout of depression yet. I cried for 2 hours. How does a grown man cry - for no reason - for two hours? It took my until 11 a.m. this morning to recover. If it can be called recovery. I'm wiped out. I feel like I have th flu. I want to sleep forever. My brain was continuing to reel from all kinds of thoughts: write this episode in the blog, call for medical help, rehearse scene three again, my lead has strep and we open the show in five days. Mostly I was trying everything to change my thought process. The 14-year-old wanted to know what was wrong, but I think he's smarter than I give him credit for. He knew. But it cuts you when you hear "I'm so sad for you." Those words and the big brown eyes looking at you with fear, pity - caring, well, it helps.

The picture of his face burned in my mind. I focused on him. And those words. He was scared. I was scared. I didn't know what was happening - well, I did, but I wasn't sure why it was happnening. Apparently that's the thing with MS. The depression can come that quickly.

I was lucky. It's over right now. I had some lunch, sat with the dog, and dug out the laptop to write this. The tears are gone. The memories are not. I don't want it again. I'm not so foolish to think that it's gone. But knowing the 14-year-old is there... (the 16-year-old is too, but he's more emotional than the 14. The 16 year-old admits he's worried. "I am worried." Not the typical 16-year-old slang and contractions of words - straight, full-blown, correct English "I am worried." ) Both of them are my heroes. I make it through because of them. I have something to fight for.

Montel Williams once said, "I have MS, it doesn't have me."

It almost did yesterday. But I focused on something - someone(s) - positive and came through.

I'm learning that depression isn't something to be taken lightly. I'm learning more about Spalding each day. And I'm grateful.

Sunday, April 8, 2007

Search for meaning

In Viktor Frankl's "Man's Search for Meaning" he says in the preface to the 1984 edition, "Don't aim at success - the ore you aim at it and make it a target, the more you are going to miss it. For success, like happiness, cannot be pursued; it must ensue, and it only does so as the unintended side-effect of one's personal dedication to a cause greater than oneself or as the by-product of one's surrender to a person other than oneself. Happiness must happen, and the same holds for succcess: you have to let it happen by not caring about it. I want you to listen to what your conscience commands you to do and go on to carry it out to the best of your knowledge. Then you will live to see that in the long run - in the long run, I say! - success will follow you precisely because you had forgotten to think of it."

Today started out as a good day. I heard from a friend, if he can be called a friend (he's actually a kid I mentor), that he couldn't make an appointment tomorrow. At first I was saddened. OK pissed. I really like working with this kid. He has a great outlook on life. He's so full of life. Sometimes, I need to be reminded that there is life. When he text messaged me I was disappointed. I work hard to help this kid. But then I realized, I don't work as hard for him as he does for me. I further realized how much he gives up to spend time with me when he could be with his friends and doing other teenage things.

So as we texted back and forth, he tells me that he is giving up a chance to go to some sort of Olympic tryout thing for soccer. He's really, really good at soccer. Since working with him, I've come to have an appreciation for the game, so it gets me angry when sportscasters dog on soccer. He works his ass off. Of course, as a photographer on the sidelines, I'm focusing on the team as a whole, but I'm proud of him when he assists or scores. Almost as if he's my kid.

So when we come to a situation like this morning, I get kind of bummed. Then I read Frankl's preface. How can I push for happiness. What right do I have? I need to let it just happen. So I did. I stated down the road to depression today, but worked hard to find the good things in my life...this kid is one of them. He said, "We'll work something out" so that he can be at his soccer thing this weekend and I'll get the practice in. I can't deny him his dream of playing soccer. It's not fair. Yeah, I'm selfish, but not that selfish. We can work it out. That makes me happy.

Happiness in the long run? Maybe it's not so long a run afterall.

Friday, April 6, 2007

Discovering What I'm Trying to Do

Discovering what I'm trying to do while in the process of doing it. Seems like a hard way to work it out. But it's all I've got right now.

Today was another day. For some reason I decided that I wanted to be like Spalding Gray and write a performance monologue. I took a class at Playhouse in the Park a while ago to learn how to write monologues. It was an interesting class. Then yesterday I had lunch with a friend who said that I was blogging before blogging was blogging.

A few years ago, while in a dead end job, I started "characterizing" my adventures in the office. I wrote little "episodes" and emailed the missive to friends. Soon I had a cult-like following. I then parlayed that into a standup routine that got me to the semi-finals of the Funniest Person contest at a local comedy club.

So today while I was having another sadness episode ('cause I still haven't quite figured out the depression thing) I thought back to Spalding Gray. I really don't know much about him except that he is revered as a monlogist and that he committed suicide in 2004 because of depression. Can depression be that bad?

I decided to check out his last book "Life Interupted." The beginning quote is adapted from the forward of the book. It seemed a good title. In addition, I liked the title of "Life Interrupted." That's what I feel like when I battle this MS and sadness. My life is interrupted.

So how do I go on?

Like Gray, I'll create a monoloue. Like I did years ago, I'll create it in cyberspace. Only this time there's a real cyberspace to post it.

I read recently that a local woman is writing and producing a play based on her experiences with MS. I want to use this blog for the same purposes. I have another blog that's my comedy rantings. I think I'll leave that one there. This one helps me to deal with my life interruptions.

Thursday, April 5, 2007

Only the Beginning

There's an old Chicago tune with lyrics "only the beginning." I'm reminded of that today. In November I was given the diagnois of "You have MS."


That was it. I was handed some pamphlets and told that I would need a spinal tap to really confirm the diagnosis. I wasn't going through with that. I think after three MRI's that was all I needed to know.

I don't have the kind where I'm in pain all the time. I have the kind that will affect my vision, memory and I'll be depressed.


How much more depressing can it get?

A lot.

I did some research into MS. I think it's fair to say they don't know much about it. But, "they," like me are learning.

And that's what I intend to do. Continue to learn.

But today reminded me that it's only the beginning. It was a fairly good day. Not like those back in January. Boy, were those day's bad. But, I had "sadness" for a while a few hours ago. I felt inadequte, that I was not worthy. Not that I'm suicidal - not yet anyway. But sometimes this is just tough to know that you're not all right.

I'm bolstered by a comment Montel Williams has made: "You have MS, it doesn't have you." He didn't say that to me personally. I read it somewhere. But it's true. I have MS, it doesn't have me.

Since the neurologist tells me that my type of MS will affect my memory and creative brain functions, I decided to keep pushing my creativity. Therefore, this blog.

Like Spaulding Gray, this could become a monologue for a play.

It's only the beginning.