Tag: mental health

Mental Health, Writing, and the Slippery Nature of Time

If you were to ask me, “How long has it been since you’ve written anything?” my response would be as overly dramatic as it would be incorrect. I’m not great with time in general, and things that happened in the ’90s might as well have been a few months ago. My wife and children know better than to rely on me for accuracy in recalling when most things happened aside from birthdays and momentous events. Even with things like that, it’s better not to bring me into the conversation.

I just looked at my last post, which was in April, but it feels closer to a year ago. Whenever I take extended breaks from writing, two things happen. First, I’m utterly convinced that I’ll never write again, and second, the break will feel exponentially longer than the actual time period. This has been the case since early high school, when I set myself on the path to be a Writer, the capital W carrying the distinction of being a published writer one day, as if that magically changes anything about the nature of writing itself. Of course it doesn’t; I’ve been a writer since I was nine years old and wrote a strange free-verse poem about the nature of God that freaked my conversative grandmother out.

In any case, the pandemic and lockdowns took my already depleted passion for writing (depletion set in motion by a house fire we endured in 2019) and pretty much killed it. I suppose I shouldn’t say killed it…let’s say choked it to a point that all vital signs dropped so low as to be practically undetectable. During that time and into the current world situation of another American mass shooting, the odd specter of monkeypox (it really needs a better name), and the increasing dumbassery of folks like Marjorie Taylor Greene in my adopted home of Georgia, I’ve stayed med-compliant but also away from the keyboard and journal. This weekend, for some reason, the fog lifted somewhat. Perhaps it’s because I went to my church to rehearse for our upcoming VBS (vacation Bible school, for those not familiar with the term) during which I’ll don the felt after a two-year hiatus and perform the puppet. When I was there–interacting with people in earnest for the first time in over two years–I felt a twinge of my former self emerge. I’m still an introvert and prefer being alone to doing anything social, but it felt almost good to be around people. I say “almost” because I’ll never be completely shed of social anxiety and the grab-bag of other neuroses that have permanent residency my brain. I’ve come to accept that about myself, and I’m proud that none of my issues prevented me from saying yes to performing during this year’s VBS.

What does that mean for me creatively? Will I start writing music again (a rather recent casualty after an impressive pandemic run of writing two or three songs a day)? Will I start writing in the morning again as I drink coffee, like I used to?

I’m not sure. I’m rather surprised to find myself writing this, which is easily the longest, blog-like thing I’ve written in years… no exaggeration. I’ll continue trying to take it easy on myself and not give too much credence to my inner-critic voice that can come up with some truly hateful things to say. Maybe I’ll see if I can still tune into the Cosmic Signal and shake loose a poem tomorrow. I hope so. Until then, vacuuming and cleaning the kitchen beckons me, and I should answer. Be well.

P.S. There are mostly likely several typos in this post, and they’ll just have to stay there.

Road Trip

Road Trip

My shallow breath should be
a giveaway, as it rattles in my
lungs and does its best to fog
up the windows of your car
but it can’t quite manage…

like so many things about me,
it’s only half-right, functions only
at a diminished capacity–my broken
thoughts, my shrunken confidence,
a puzzle missing key pieces.

You turn the the car back on and
drive through the night without
headlights, taking your chances,
chain-smoking and listening to oldies
while I try to convince myself I’m real.

Survivor’s Guilt

Pain seeks its own level,
you tell me as we look out

over the ruined city, eerily
beautiful in the moonlight.

I can hear the screaming
from here, or so I imagine.

You hold my face in your hands,
and I feel your breath as you

whisper, You did not cause this.
Far below, in the rubble, a hand

moves once and then stills forever.

The Pretend River Flatters Me, Plots My Demise

I’m deeply distrustful, and often terrified of, water.

The Pretend River Flatters Me, Plots My Demise

“Did you think of me as someone handsome?”
I asked, “someone capable, strong, with vibrant eyes,
quick, sure smiles, and hardy handshakes?”

“I certainly do,” Old Man River said and winked,
its banks rife with flowers and redolent with miracles,
its rocks glittering under a made-for-TV sunset.

“I competed in the Depressive Olympics,” I said, “and I medaled
in Free-Floating Anxiety and Abandonment Issues.
When they played the national dirge, I hid.”

“That’s the saddest thing I’ve heard,” Old Man River said.
and I know from sad. People dump their tears in me.
I’m more salt than freshwater at this point, did you know that?

“I often wring myself out like a murderer who regrets killing,”
I told Old Man River (which was masquerading…it was actually
just a creek with a over-sized ego and a penchant for flooding).

“You’re a golden man, and I’m deeply in love with you,”
the pretend river sang, but I didn’t believe one gurgling word,
because water lies, and it waits for the right moment to drown us.