I turn 33 on Thursday. Last week I realized that will mean it’s been twenty years of this neuromuscular syndrome. For our anniversary, my body began rejecting medication, and the latest thing the doctor put me on only endows me with new and unwanted side-effects. Much of 2014 was waking up every two hours with muscle spasms, of being unable to think straight, and being so beat down I couldn’t even write anymore. Family begged me to take it easy on myself, to just take May easy. May slips so easily into June, especially when all you do is suffer.
Part of me knows I’ve done more than that. As my mind’s been bogged down by pain, I reach for oversimplifications more than I ever used to let myself. Depression is alleged to work like that. So I dwell:
-A construction worker tossing a bag of concrete off a roof, coming down at me, and for a split second realizing I wanted it to kill me rather than send me to physical therapy again. It missed.
-That one doctor appointment, and the indignity of having to read what was happening to me off of notes because I didn’t have the wherewithal left to say it off the top of my head.
-The night I made a cry for help and instead my friend spent hours browbeating me about feminism.
-The suffocating feeling of a quiet night alone in early May, with no distractions or excuses, and realizing I couldn’t type a single sentence of fiction. Like someone sliced the tendons in my soul.
With all the confirmations coming from people who knew me, at some point I caught myself saying this was a terrible year. Maybe my worst year since the syndrome first hit, or the purgatory of returning to middle school while handicapped. In the middle of saying this out loud, though, I stopped myself.
I don’t like it when people say, “Fuck this year.”
The people who said 2013 sucked, I’ve noticed, tended to hate 2014. This bad summer became this hard Fall became this bitter Christmas. I believe in the powers of habit. Anyone can build a tragic destiny out of hating their days.
Was 2014 a bad year? 32 ends for me tomorrow, but I’ve got four months left on the calendar. And more importantly:
-I love playing Spelunky; some nights it was all I had the brain power left to do. I love re-watching Lost. And when Max and Ross got me a ticket to join them for Stewart and McKellan’s Waiting For Godot? Reading Naoki Urasawa’s 20th Century Boys (thanks Paul), Ted Chiang’s The Truth of Fact, The Truth of Feeling, and Stephen King’s Mr. Mercedes. Stephen King, the writer whose works gave me hope at 13, still reads well in this darkness. The time consuming this art wasn’t bad.
-Before things went to Hell, from January to March, I wrote a novel faster than I’ve ever done. In the middle I got bronchitis and went delirious; if you count only the time I was strong and home, I wrote it in two months. And I wrote a short story that might be the best I’ve ever made – it’s neck-and-neck with only one other for the most proud I’ve ever been of a short. Now ironically as I was writing this post, the rejection e-mail arrived for that very story. But one still has to ask: were writing these things bad?
|ReaderCon happened this year, and contained this dinner.|
It was splendid, even for someone going deaf.
-There are prolonged periods now when I have no patience or empathy. My mind gets so overwhelmed by illness that those things core to my values evaporate, and I’ve come to think that’s who I am now. Yet that’s a lie, because this year I’ve made some friends tear up from laughing. I’ve talked at least three people out of critical mental periods. One weekend, I think I prevented a suicide. How could I ever be so petty as to say, “Fuck my 2014,” when I spent part of it saving a life?
The fears are all there. With all my problems, will a publisher ever want to work with me? Will friends stick around? Some have already left. There is an exquisite horror to watching someone you loved distance themselves and then vanish from your world. Then there’s the compounding horror of not feeling, and only remembering that you’re supposed to feel. So now I wonder: if I get worse, will everyone go away?
Even if I sink like Atlantis in the coming years, 2014 would still be better in comparison. If 2015 is better, it won’t come from damning all of this. After all the doctor visits, and today starting yet another new medicine, I don’t know what a better future comes from.
Then again, I couldn’t have written this post a month ago. So if the year keeps getting worse in the House of Wiswell, how do we account for this?
Posting this today, when I’m still 32. I know what I want to post tomorrow. You can be here for it if you want.