I haven’t written lately and people are starting to complain, but you see, it isn’t my fault- I’ve been depressed. Like “queer and sultry summer”/ “executing the Rosenbergs”/”STICK MY HEAD IN THE OVEN!” kind of depressed.
I blame it on a three day literature binge. I know by now that I shouldn’t read at ALL because of my involuntary flights of fancy and my wildly overactive imagination. For instance, I read *Tears of Rage* by John Walsh the same week I read *The Other Side and Back* by that psychic with the ghetto fab fingernails who’s always on the Oprah Show- I then convinced myself that I’d known Adam Walsh’s reincarnation, that I used to work with him at Burger King.
Then I read the Time Traveller’s Wife and stopped putting any effort into improving or bettering my life as I became convinced that all events were taking place simultaneously on some plane of existence and that everything that was ever going to happen to me was set in stone because it had TECHNICALLY already happened. Also I decided that I needed to date a time traveller because the main character had a tendency to disappear, leaving his wife alone for months and weeks at a time and that sounded like an appealing sort of relationship. I was completely and totally serious.
(Believe me, close personal friends of mine asked me to burn all my books after that one.)
Oh! And let’s not forget the “Holographic Universe” fiasco of 1999! That book did a number on me! I read it at age fifteen and instantly became convinced that our universe was just a giant hologram being projected from a larger, more real universe! My answer to EVERYTHING? From Moms? Teachers? Bosses?
“Nope. I don’t have to listen to you. You’re just a hologram.”
Please. It wasn’t even a bestseller, but TO THIS DAY, you can not have a normal conversation with me and not hear me mention “the universe” at least three times.
Again. That book did a number on me.
So I *know* how bad reading is for me, but sometimes I get weak, like a few weeks ago. I read for three days. That’s three days STRAIGHT, boys and girls. Not a drop of sleep. I’m surprised I even survived.
* * *
I picked up An Unquiet Mind by Kay Redfield Jamison, it’s a memoir of a personal struggle with manic depressive illness- being a little bipolar bear myself, I thought I’d be able to relate. I could not relate.
The book absolutely upset me. Do we have to paint the “illness” so horribly? I am not “stark raving mad”, nor will I ever be- and no matter how many things I mess up in life, I will never even *attempt* suicide because I’ll probably mess that up too, then end up in emergency, then mandatory rehab . . . and what’s “attempted suicide”?
It’s just ONE MORE THING you didn’t do right.
I found the fact that DOCTOR Kay Jamison (a freaking *psychiatrist*) found the manic depressive gene to be so debilitating, so severe, wildly offensive. How could she think all that garbage when she trailed in the footsteps of all the greats? Edgar Allen Poe, Jack London! Woolfe, Van Gogh? Plath? Even my Byron!
(Now don’t you daaaaare be talking shit about my *Byron*!)
Then I noticed the generation gap. The book had been written in 1995, the same year I’d been diagnosed. She was not diagnosed til her mid twenties during a time when little to nothing was known about manic depression. But ME?
I was eleven years old. It was at the height of the American ADD Boink Fest, when our beloved United States was diagnosing school children left and right, endorsing medicinal promiscuity! Children took their meds, sold their meds, traded their meds- you wanted sanity? It was only a psychiatrist appointment away . . . or a visit to a high school bus stop! One of those freaks in a black Nirvana tshirt and red Converse Sneakers? That guy with all the self mutilation wounds up and down his arms? He *always* had a veritable pharmacy inside his Trapper Keeper! Always.
I had never lived in a world where manic depressive illness was not recognized or understood. Hell. This is Florida in 2012, you can diagnose a kindergartener with bipolar disorder in the morning and by recess, he’ll be pulling xanax out of his Spiderman lunchbox; trading it for Fruit By the Foot.
The book was two hundred and nineteen pages long. I jumped ship about page two hundred, when the stupid, stupid woman started talking about manic depressive lab mice and DNA tracking, aborting human fetuses which carry this god awful gene. I became furious and threw the book at the wall, probably because of a violent mood swing or an unpredictable burst of maddened enthusiasm.
Shut the hell up, Kay Redfield Jamison.
Take your freaking lithium.
When a book upsets me like that, I usually turn to an old favorite to comfort me, a book with worn, faded pages and a lot of duct tape on it. There’s much comfort in rereading pages you’ve read a million times. The weather cooled off and it had gotten windy out, so I decided it was a
Wuthering Heights Day! I went to the Sea Wall to read.
Wuthering Heights has always been my favorite “love story” bc everyone is tortured, nothing happy happens, no one ends up w who they want and then everyone dies- but reading it this time, I saw it in a new light.
What a deeply, deeply terrible book! Awful! Quite possibly the worst thing I have ever read!
Catherine and Heathcliff didn’t have any kind of great, passionate love, they were selfish, selfish people who lived their lives taking what they wanted and delighting in making other folks miserable! Heathcliff was a vindictive monster who needed a haircut and a bath for 34 chapters! And Catherine? Oh, the stupid bitch!
Again I threw the book at the wall close to finishing it. Maybe it was that I’d been awake for 48 hours straight, but I realized I was not rooting for *one* single character, had no sympathy for any of them! What horrible, wretched people! I’m glad they all were driven mad and died and haunted each other and crap! Arrrrgh. What did I ever see in this book?
No wonder our disturbed Emily Bronte died a lonely spinster after writing it. The woman obviously had some serious issues. I bet she was even manic depressive . . .
Which brings us back to the manic depressive lab mice and aborting human fetuses. It was five in the morning, I hadn’t slept in two days, but I decided that I was going to stay awake and get my sleep schedule straightened out. I had some errands to run anyway.
As it turned out, the last thing St. Augustine needed was a depressed insomniac bitch wandering around town in a daze, with no self control, no babysitter and limitless lines of credit!
Gosh. It was such a bad day . . .