“GOOD-NIGHT, SWEET PRINCE…”
On a daily basis, 1,200 mgs. of Lithium and 1,200 mgs. of Lexapro were pumped into my little cracked egg of a head; an extremely potent combination of salt and serotonin re-uptake inhibitors so massive that I literally couldn’t see straight for about a year. It took every ounce of energy to go to my therapy sessions and walk my dogs.
Work, let alone create? Not even a possibility. I couldn’t think. Characterizing this as momentary “lapses in the synapses” would be a gross understatement. Every bit of wiring was ripped out, chemically and cognitively. Waking up and being ambulatory was a rare major success. Most days I didn’t even bother with that. Not that I didn’t want to: I just was incapable.
One of the lovely side effects of that chemical cocktail was uncontrolled muscular tremors. I found myself self-administering a form of drug induced Parkinson's disease. Touching a lit match to the tip of a cigarette was difficult work. Playing the piano was out of the question. I had to give up in total the one thing that defined me for most of my adult life.
A corpulent Elvis waving a gun at a television set would be a shining example of mental health compared to me.
This went on for about a year. I’d like to tell you that my spelunking expedition stomping around in my own gray matter like a skill-challenged electrician with the grace of Godzilla at a disco was an enlightening experience.
It was to a certain extent, but at the time, enlightenment was far off my radar screen. I was hanging on to life by my fingernails.
Which leads me to the point of this little confessional epistle.
The major thing that kept me away from getting help sooner was my fear of losing my mania, because any thing I ever created of any value was birthed in the context of a high manic phase. In other words, if I lost the mania I would lose everything that defined me as a high “creative” in the process. I would lose the me I knew. The chronic depression is the price I had to pay in order to reap the creative benefit of what was left in the wake of a high manic “episode”.
That’s a scary concept, but in retrospect, if I look at the past thirteen years of my life, the trail of evidence leads to the fact that I was really sub-consciously and systematically destroying everything that defined me as a creative to get to the point that re-wiring was not only possible, but only one of two options left on the proverbial table (The other being sucking on the barrel of a .45)
With every choice I made, day by day and year by year, I was distancing myself from my creative past, pro-actively murdering any dream I ever had.
“BY THE PRICKING OF MY THUMBS,
SOMETHING WICKED THIS WAY COMES”…. OR:
“THOUGH THIS BE MADNESS, YET THERE BE METHOD IN IT”
Here’s a good example:
I willingly put myself in a relationship with a chronic alcoholic that lasted over a seven year period. At the height of her abuse cycle, she would be ingesting almost three litres of vodka per day. Its quite easy to put creative endeavors on hold while you are running the love of your life in and out of hospitals, detox and rehab centers trying to keep someone alive on a constant basis.
Ride that roller coaster, creative endeavors and personal recalibration are the furthest thing from your mind.
I don’t blame her for anything. Alcoholism is a disease. It would be like blaming someone for your personal pain because they contracted cancer.
But I had a hidden agenda (hidden even from myself) and that disease suited my sub-conscious purposes to a “T’.
I prevented myself from doing the important work I needed to do. I dodged the concepts that intimidated me and scared me the most. I let myself get ruled by fear.
By willingly putting myself in this situation, I totally diverted my attention to her instead of me, and got to play “The Martyr” at the same time. Pretty slick, that sub-conscious.
We are the sum total of the choices we make. The shithouse rat owns it all.
Re-locating to New Orleans was less about career advancement then it was about achieving total anonymity so I could leisurely kill the character of “Little Georgie”, (my most public and personal crowning creative achievement at home) at a pace that would inflict as much cruelty and torture on him and myself as possible.
Kill the dream. Kill it good and dead, and the dream no longer becomes a factor. Then you can do the re-wiring job.
Presently, in the few instances that I venture out in public on the streets of CNY, people often ask me "Why aren't you playing? When's the next Shuffling Hungarians gig?"
There are myriad different answers to that question, and explanations as to why a show won't be happening anytime soon.
I usually answer "I'm retired" with a wink and a nod, and try to deflect as much as possible.
But in my interior monologue, the answer I want to give is "Because I took my alter-ego Little Georgie down to New Orleans to murder him in cold blood with my bare hands on the streets of the French Quarter... I had to. It was either him or me."
That thought isn't exactly a good conversation starter in a social situation. I just keep smiling as I keep it to myself.
“Tear it Down and Build it Up Again”. Art Imitates Life Imitating Art Imitating Life.
"You may shoot for the stars and end up in a back alley behind Pluto, beaten and bloodied, but at least I dare to dream, and that’s better than being Earthbound, mired in the muck of mediocrity.
I judge my forward progress and success by the crushingly epic nature of my failures.
The more epic the crash, the more I’m convinced I must be doing something right"
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THANK YOU KINDLY,
COLONEL BEAUREGARD "IRON THIGHS" JEFFERSON, A.K.A. "THE MANAGEMENT"