This is the tenth in a series of episodes, detailing my dawning realization, that I have some mental issues, that I must address, or risk losing those around me, who mean so much to me. I do not know how many installments this will entail, because I do not have an outline, for this particular avenue, that my Life has chosen to pursue. Because I have always found writing to be therapeutic, I am going to share my journey with anyone, who cares to read along. Believe me, I am not having that much fun.
An Ocean of Emotion
If I said I were drowning in an ocean of emotion, what would that look like, metaphorically? Emotions can be volatile substances. Look at middle school bff drama, and then adjust for the appropriate number of years. Emotions don’t fade, so much as they pick and choose their times and places to rear their bulbous heads. Each of us has those events, associations and memories, which evoke strong emotions within us.
For me my sea of emotions would contain a lot of swirly red, for the passion of my writing and the depth of my awareness/gratitude/bitterness of the whole panic attack syndrome. Panic is blood red. I became aware of my disorder, I am grateful for the release from it, but I am bitter at having marked time for 48 years, socially limited in my abilities, due to anxiety issues. Red is the one color, that both Annie and I call our favorite. Sammy Hagar sang about “Red.”
An ocean of emotion sounds like hyperbole at its smarmiest. My sister JT told me recently that I had lived an active life, and that hers paled in comparison. All I could do was snicker and say, “Yeah, most people I know also think school teachers are pretty exciting figures, with all of those papers to grade, and with there always being a real strong need for “appropriate” language. Buddha forbid someone should say, “Shit!”
I wrote a three-step referral for Summer, in her seventh grade year, for blurting out that exact expression, as a result of something that had occurred to either hurt or startle her, right in the middle of class. When she protested that she was allowed to say it at home, I blandly suggested she do so, but please, not in my classroom. Now, I have an ongoing, serious case of habitual potty mouth, except around children, and my revered mother, Pauline. Otherwise, it’s bombs away, and damn the torpedoes, not to mix my cliches.
Included with the swirly red, would be the coolness of blue, with Mahlon Blue having passed in January, and the icy blueness of snow after dark, so much a part of the surroundings in March and April, up here on our ridge-top. I see blue in the heavens above, unlike the heavens in SoCal, blue in the fifties, only to turn gray in the early sixties, and then yellow. I used to come home from playing hard, in the late sixties, panting shallowly, like a dog in need of fresh water, because the smog of SoCal gripped my lungs like a vise, and gave me back my breath, in tiny little increments. It was awful.
I include blue, because Annie is a blue-gal. She wears Levis, she wears navy blue a lot, and she she’s just cool blue. Most significant photos of her, show her dressed in blue. If not blue, then red. Annie is what this turmoil is all about.
I would see green in my pool of emotion, because so much of my world is encompassed by green. No matter what season, green is the dominant color, because so much of our ground cover is comprised of live oaks, manzanita, madrone, pine, fir, and a wealth of other growth. My family has always tilled the soil, first in the benign climate of SoCal, later in San Jose and then finally here on the ridge, where we put down deep roots, in the spring of 1977, and have cultivated our presence since then. We are a force within our community.
But I am not sure what color(s) I would use to describe the spiraling range of emotions, I have been experiencing, for the past eighteen months. In the order that they occurred, consider the following sequence of events, each producing a swirl of accompanying emotions:
Annie left me in September of 2009 for a week, due to my emotions.
I sought help to free myself from panic attack syndrome in July of 2010.
Seven visits sufficed, to rid myself of the worst of the cloak of anxiety, with the last visit occurring on September 23, 2010.
The San Fran Giants won the World Series in October.
Working in the dead of winter, a year ago I built a 10 by 20 ft, 2-story
addition, almost exclusively by myself, working through the harshest winter of our thirty winters on
The culmination of this building project was the right-brained activity of the three arches, the trimming out of the bay in redwood, and the creation of the wooden quilt squares.
I mulled over my findings from therapy, and wrote “Six Days a Week.”
I followed that up with 250,000 words of Military Madness.
My life became centered on writing, with me as the subject of it all.
I began to reach out and re-establish broken ties, with family and friends.
I began to get favorable feedback on my writing.
I successfully navigated Ben’s wedding in November, but incurred his wrath.
I sent out about fifty elaborate home-made Christmas cards.
I began to blog in December.
I gained readership.
Annie left me on Christmas Day, for a second time.
Jamal was murdered on January 24th, and I was profoundly impacted.
I wrote more than a dozen pieces on Jamal, and the ramifications of his death, beginning with “Not Enough Words” and “Howie.”.
My friend/brother, Mahlon passed on January 31.
I joined FaceBook in the middle of February.
Pam Cornell passed February 18th; I wrote “The Queen of Tarts.”
I began to methodically reconnect with more than 400 friends, at last count, on FaceBook.
Former students bombarded me with welcome and kind words about past days, evoking intense emotion.
Former colleagues commented favorably on “Six Days.”
My readership increased.
My crusade on behalf of Jamal/Kaiden gained intensity.
I engaged in a shouting match with the editor of the local paper; unfortunately, only one of us was
I took my protest against the editor of the local paper, public one Saturday.
I wrote extensively about the court proceedings in Ukiah.
People continued to bombard me with appreciative comments.
My readership surpassed 3,000 page-views per previous 30 days.
At least four people have shared with me, their struggles with panic attacks, so I know that I am reaching
people, with my message that panic attack syndrome is prevalent, but treatable.
My physical health began to deteriorate.
I was sleeping less and less and demonstrating corresponding behavior.
Annie left me a third time.
My family forced me to recognize that my mental/emotional frame of mind, had driven those around me away, and I did not seem to care.
The time had come for change.
My meeting with Norm was successful, but did not result in a connection.
I finally hooked up with Dr. John Garratt’s office and have an appointment in three days.
Is that enough turmoil for you? Obviously, it was more than I could handle. I would not imagine the average person, would find me all that exciting, from the perspective of my physical actions. However, taken in relation to my rather sedentary career as a teacher, the events of the past eighteen months have gradually combined to form a crescendo of resulting emotion, with me having the choice to address my emotions in therapy, or lose my family.
Risk losing Annie?