Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Blame it on the Drugs

Writing takes a particular type of mental work. As much as we writers would like to sit down at our keyboards and great books magically flow onto the blank screen, stories aren't written that way. We labor over our words. We choose them with great care. Many of us agonize over the quality of our work. This is how books get written.

For the better part of a year, I didn't agonize over writing. I agonized over the thought of writing.

I'm not talking about writers block. There was no lack of ideas, no silence from my muse. My muse screamed at me to no avail. A flood of ideas built up behind the dam in my head. I could not write. I couldn't edit stories that I'd all ready written. I couldn't submit work to publications, write query letters, or talk about writing.

Instead of improving with time. I got worse. I would burst into tears at the mention of sending my finished novel to the editor who had requested to see it. I had panic attacks at meetings of my writer's group. Attending a conference was a nightmare. Sarah stayed very close to me through meetings and shielded me from the most difficult parts of public events. Unfortunately, she could only watch the agony of not writing.

Thankfully, the dam has burst. I would like to claim that the volume of creative work I've completed in the last two months is the result of some inner drive, great inspiration, a passion for work--anything but the truth. The facts are not comfortable.

The truth is I had a drug problem. The anxiety medication I had been on for several years had stopped working. Since Sarah and I had been living in a state of crisis from the moment we arrived in Florida, changes in mood and temperament were blamed on the situation. I am sure that anyone who has been through the experience of seeing a loved one through the final months of life can appreciate the tunnel vision that process creates. Instead of thinking about my own health, I ignored all the warning signs.

It is uncomfortable to think that panic nearly cost me my life. A simple doctor's visit could have prevented a difficult year from becoming a hellish one. Lesson learned? I hope so. Only time will tell.

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