Thursday, June 25, 2009

Hell's back door is at the end of a long shit maze.

Therapy. Some of us need it, some think they need it, and some people provide it and shouldn't. My wife Tana agrees. A lot of people thrive on keeping their demons in their back pocket. Artists are good at that. Especially that classically damaged fine artist. Like a lactose intolerance. You crave it, you eat it, crazy bloating and then wham...severe diarrhea. But it's the way the artist channels that creative mental diarreah onto the canvas that makes it unique. Still with me? They need this disasterous process. It makes for good art. They set up the paints and easel, then the bloating, which is the "torture thyself with liquor and drugs phase"...then the release. Brushes fly and paint splatters and who cares what is left on the canvas. It's out of the brain and into the frame. And though this example is so "stereotypical artist cliché" it's true somehow on a smaller scale for a lot of us. Just putting something creative down on paper can take a fair amount of courage. "It must be good, better than last time, something different...significant ART!" And when it's your paycheck, it's even harder.

I must admit, cheese is wicked good, but chances are good that it was squeezed from an overly hormoned sad cow's nipple by some factory farm robot. So everything in moderation right? Nah! If that saying were true, we'd be well-rounded nobodys without any particular skill. Cheese, yes maybe we could all cut back on that (and that's a whole different post), but some things are best in excess.

I think what most people need most in this crazy world is simple meditation. Fuck everything that happened in the past and what may happen in the future for just a window of time everyday. For 10 minutes, or even 5, don't do shit. Just veg out. And do it preferably sitting up. It needs to be a fully conscious, continuous brain fart and not be affiliated with sleeping in any way. I'm sure early man just instinctually stared at his balls from time to time and didn't think two thoughts about it. And it's the people today that can do this, meditation that is, that are better off.

In the end of 2007 after a long awaited holiday vacation, I was bitch smacked physically and mentally by some...thing. After no doctor could tell me what it was i was experiencing, I thought maybe it was anxiety, and when I mentioned that, the doctors were quite quick to steer that convenient direction. Where did it come from? Years of not sleeping enough? The way my Father put it, "I think you got your Mom's worry, and my perfectionism." He's right and that's made for a really mean combo I guess. Funny enough it was my father who brought this to light and not my psychologist who really didn't help me at all.

Somehow between college and now, I got the idea that I shall never be bored and every moment of my life I must be doing something productive. So add that on to the already existing "everything I do must be done to the best of my ability". OK, fine, then I mixed in that everything I do during every moment of the day regardless of what it is, must be done perfectly AND up to the standards of someone who's a professional in the field. And when I couldn't, and I often didn't, even if it was fixing plumbing under the sink, drawing BART passengers as zombies (not a far stretch in the AM), or wiping my ass, (and there are professionals at wiping asses you know), I mentally beat myself up. Always took criticism way too hard. Wondered why so many people were flopping around watching sports when they could be creative and productive. Judging. Yuck. Eventually I would catch myself zoning out on nothing and my jaw getting tighter and tighter. I was staying up late every night working on some fucking project. Started spinning my wheels when there was nowhere to go. Then an eye twitch that didn't go away, some blurry vision...then straight to hell in one day.

I'll skip the metaphors and tell you I really thought I was dying for awhile there. When the shaking and mental tension didn't go away, I hit the doc up for meds. I didn't have the time to curl up in a ball and screw my eyes around shaking like a hypothermic chihuahua. And that's how I spent my vacation really. My doc started me on some shit that was meant for schizophrenics. Zyprexa. Oh and supposedly you could die from taking this crap, slide into a nice coma, or if you're lucky you'd just put on like 50 pounds a month. No joke. This "med" was recently in Rolling Stone magazine as the one pill you should stay far way from unless you really really wanted diabetes and a drooling disorder. Well, luckily the severe nausea and intense workouts fought off most of the bulge and after 7 months of restlessness and falling asleep while freaking out, I called it quits and pleaded for a change. I skipped over to a different concoction of Klonopin and Buspar. The buspar made me feel like somebody stopped time, spun me around in my chair, tossed some shitty speed down my throat and then restarted time all in about 10 seconds after taking it. And the Klonopin made me feel like I just drank tequila for breakfast. But if you can believe it, my brain was coming back online for the first time in months. So I cut out the buspar and stuck to the Klonopin which is pretty much Hulked out valium.

Some days I thought suicide, some days I thought I'd check myself into a mental ward. And the stress this has brought on my loved ones has been the hardest pill to swallow. My wife and daughter, hanging in's been rough on them too. Thanks guys. I love you!

Today, I'm on generic Zoloft and off the klonopin. I'm doing a LOT better. Heading out hell's rear exit and I'm learning to not look back. But hell always has tricks up it's sleeves. I'm still dealing with mental and physical bullshit, but it's nothing like what it used to be. More like pigmy horseshit, which is smaller and stinks less.

Some are afraid to speak up about certain health situations because they feel it may make them seem weak. Meds and whatnot. Well, over the last year and a half, nearly everyone I've talked to about this who are going through something similar, they are some of the strongest, most creative and intelligent people I've met. And most times it's their crazy monkey brain in a time of physical fatigue that starts them down the dark path of anxiety, or depression or bipolar or OCD or some kind of mental stress. I'm stronger and wiser for going through this. Who knows what happened to me for sure. I don't, and the friggin docs don't obviously. But I'm not spending time wondering anymore. If I didn't have anxiety before I've definitely been through my fair share in the last couple years. If we could run cars on anxiety instead of fuel, LA's smog would clear up in a week. It's a vicious cycle that snowballs itself more and more. Anxiety makes for more anxiety. The best way to deal with it is to accept it and not fear it. Seems impossible when you're in it, but sometimes it's the answers that are most paradoxical that work best. So where does this leave us? Don't worry about it knucklehead! Just twist that self-loathing into self-deprecation and generously palette knife that diarrhea on the canvas without thinking too much and sell it to someone who wants to adopt that psychological bowel movement because it matches their couch....metaphorically speaking.

I wish you and your families all good health. And feel free to call me if you need to talk about something related.