A year ago tomorrow I sat down in front of an empty computer screen and scratched out a post I titled “Why I Am here” in which I expressed some doubt about my ability to actually maintain an active blog, and in which I declared my desire to share my own experience fighting the demons in the dark corners of my mind. I had recently come to understand that there was strength in sharing and important things to learn from the experience of others. I had been reading a couple different mental health blogs and while I couldn’t always relate to the specifics of a person’s experience I still felt a kinship with many of these writers and realized that despite the differences there are still things we talk about that only others who have tread down the same dark paths will ever be able to understand.
As it turns out I have had a very active year in terms of mental health. Topics have ranged from reflections on the darkest days of my life back when this all started many years ago, to my current struggles. In between readers have been blessed with some attempts at humor and creative writng, my taste in music, observations on the impact of entertainment on mental health, weight loss, and one long political rant. The most important posts for me came shortly after this blog was started when last December I was pushed into a very difficult position and made the decision to discontinue use of the benzodiazepine Klonopin. I had been using the drug daily for ten years and for a couple months this space focused on little more than me surviving benzodiazepine withdrawal. Nearly a year later I am still getting used life without this chemical buffer, and trying to get some balance back.
I would like to sincerely thank all those that have stopped in to read this blog, and in particular those that have taken the time to comment or “like” my posts. Without your support I would likely have stopped writing here many months ago. Knowing people are reading and care has been a wonderful experience. When I started this I didn’t realize I was stumbling into such a supportive mental health community. That has been the single most pleasant surprise of this experiment.
In the event some are curious I will share a few behind the scenes details. My blog is pretty modest by most standards. Less than 100 posts to this point, less than 100 folks following, and not quite 3,000 page views. I have been very surprised by one stat in particular. My most viewed post has nothing to do with the topic of this blog. Back in the spring I wrote a couple snarky posts about trying to get a decent coffee out here in the sticks. In the spirit of those posts a put up a couple funny coffee related photos. That photo post has three times the individual views of the next closest post on this blog. It also has very few “likes” and no comments. It makes very little sense to me. The post with the most “likes” happens to be my very last post, a poem about insomnia. Be careful folks… too much encouragement and you may be subject to more poetry of questionable quality.
I have two posts that I would call my favorites. The first is actually the least viewed post on this blog. I may have titled it badly, but Downeaster Alexa includes a brief reflection of the impact of the sea on my life. It isn’t the most profound thing I have ever written, but the subject matter is near and dear to my heart. The second post is a piece I wrote on men and depression. It sparked a pretty good conversation in the comments section when it was written, and the ideas put forth are still things I feel strongly about.
In the future I plan to keep going as I have been, mostly writing about my day to day life with the occasional offbeat submission. I have really begun to appreciate music as a powerful medium for expressing emotion and I may increase the amount of music I share here. I added a page to the blog called the Tiptoe Soundtrack that will display all the music I share in individual posts in a central location.
I would like to offer on last thank you to all those that have supported this project and I look forward to seeing you here in the coming months!
A week or so ago I published that long string of loosely connected thoughts describing my own version of anxiety plagued insomnia. I said I was going to use it as a brainstorming platform to put together a real poem. I had been looking into poetry formats trying to understand things like rhythm and meter, and thought it might be interesting and challenging to try and write poetry that followed some set structure. I have to admit I only marginally understood what I was reading, and began to get really lost on the stressed syllable stuff. I know it’s not all that hard, but I have trouble reading about it. If I could actually hear it conversation I have no doubt it would be clear to me. I said I would share the poem here when it was done. Over the last week I have come to understand that it will never be done so I will share in today’s form. Continue reading
I have seen others do this and have always found it interesting. Saturday night I was again thrust into the misery of insomnia. It didn’t last as long as those endless nights in July, but it was accompanied by repeated cyclic anxiety attacks. It was uncomfortable and I found myself wishing I could find a way to explain what it felt like. I began to narrate a stream of consciousness in my head, and the following day I sat down to capture the feelings and sensations of a restless night.
What follows is grammatical gibberish. Is it free form poetry? I have used this as a baseline to begin writing an actual poem. I have never written a poem with actual rhythm or meter. I thought I would give it a try. If it actually gets finished I will share it here if folks promise to be gentle. So here it is, a collage of thought and feeling… Continue reading
Back in the spring some folks may remember I made a brief detour into some lighter writing. I chronicled my budding love affair with the Mocha Latte and bemoaned the difficulties of getting a good one when you live in the middle of nowhere. It was a short lived experiment that got side tracked by my personal need to get back on topic, and the general time demands of my summertime commitments. Now as summer winds down my thoughts have again wandered towards creating a new web space that allows me to show a different, and preferably less serious, side. Part of my motivation with the coffee stories was to show that I am much more than a mental problem. Most of us live much deeper lives than we show in these blogs, and I wanted to prove that there was more to me than Klonopin withdrawal and anxiety attacks. I would still like to drop the occasional post here that shows the larger “me”, and I would endeavor to make them less serious than this morning political rant, but I also want a different space to try something new.
There are many aspects of my life that I could use, but I don’t know if they would be interesting to share. I used to like the idea of a commentary on current events, I even started a short lived blog on this vein, but something like this requires an unbelievable amount of research and time. I think I need something that I can write from the heart. Something that may have the occasional researched piece, but that mostly comes from my own experience. I have tossed around a couple ideas, but I seem to be settling around one. About a year and a half ago I took over the meal preparation duties. I surprised myself by really enjoying it, but a lot of the experimentation and fun have been ruined by a new focus on weight loss. Weight loss and my traditional home cooking didn’t work out very well. I hope to begin experimenting with some healthier alternatives this fall, and have been wondering if a cooking Dad trying to find healthier alternatives might make for interesting reading. A bigger question is whether I could stick with it or see it evolve over time. I guess the point of this post is to ask for input. What do you think?
Off and on over the years I have day dreamed of getting paid to write. I enjoy writing though I often lack inspiration. Back in my darkest days I wrote a little bit. It was all as dark as my mood and I never shared it with anyone until I found it by accident one day and posted it here and here. I played around with short fiction stories recently, but as a father, husband, and middle class worker bee there is little time for following my own pursuits. Truthfully the stuff I wrote wasn’t all that good anyway. My stuff always lacks the descriptive details, the things that convey the setting and mood in a way that actually puts the reader into the story. It is all mechanical and matter of fact, no real pizazz. I was once employed as a technical writer and I was good at that. I actually redesigned the entire menu of written reports my company provided its customers. They were concise, to the point, easily navigated, and well received. That remains my biggest accomplishment in writing.
This summer while on the water working with my father I was struck with a rare lightning bolt of inspiration for a magazine article. I had an idea but as is the norm, particularly in the summer, I had no time until today. Today I was off. It is the last day of my vacation and by accident became a day I had all to myself. I finally sat down and wrote. The topic and whatnot isn’t important, but what is is that I got the ideas all on paper. I had taken the time to outline the project a couple weeks ago and I have been thinking about it since late in the spring so it was pretty much written in my head which made actually giving a physical form much easier. Two hours, 1200 words, and draft one is complete. It’s a ways from actually being done, but the ideas are all out on paper. I have no idea the submission guidelines to the publications I have in mind so I will go search those out next and modify the content if required. I am somewhat concerned that it may be a little long for what they would use it for, but I think I can shave it down if I have to.
I think this is a really good idea. I really think it will sell in the market I have in mind, and I am pretty excited to have actually started down the path. It was nice to write with purpose. To actually have an idea and put something together that could be useful to others. I know I am a long way for done, but it has been a good day.
Yesterday I shared a piece of writing from back in college that was written before I was in an active battle with depression and anxiety. It showed that I was allowing my mind to spend time is some dark places back before depression was running my life, and that I have been struggling with making the “right” decision for years. Last night I was reading through a Word document in which I had brainstormed on “paper” before I wrote that essay. I was thinking that maybe I should post these raw thoughts when I came to the bottom of the screen and found a poem. Now to be clear I am no poet or even fan of poetry for that matter. I have stumbled across some that I enjoyed, Robert Frost The Road Not Taken comes directly to mind, but mostly I just don’t “get” poetry. This poem, and I use the term loosely, does give another window into where my brain was as I approached graduation and the reality of what that would mean began to sink in.
Its strength is immeasurable growing stronger with
every puppet that falls in line. It forces conformity
from all it can, and destroys all that it cannot.
It sucks the energy from everything around it
destroying what is unique with its unyielding power
forcing its will upon all.
What is its plan for me? Will it bury me with its
fantastic power? Can I be who I want to be? or
just another puppet on a string?