I’ve turned a new leaf in life that will undoubtedly contribute to my happiness and productivity. Creative writing is certainly my calling, but it’s been a long time since I’ve derived pleasure from my passion. After struggling with the idea that I don’t have to be miserable all the time, I’ve decided to reach out to professionals and the community to figure out methods for reducing my overall angst.
It is said that ritalin and adderall are composed of compounds that are critical in improving the frontal cortex’s function, which generally leads to better executive decision-making and time management. In a visit to the psychiatrist, I was asked if I’d ever been tested for ADHD. I’ve just begun a daily routine that doesn’t involve impulsive substance abuse, and my previous behavior could have been directly caused by this chemical imbalance. I seemed to have no power over my impulses to self-medicate, propelling me into a vicious cycle that I thought I could muscle through, if only I could remember what I’m supposed to do every day (and not relapse).
Turns out that memory is part of the executive functions ruled by the frontal cortex, which was effectively waning by the minute. Again, vicious cycle. I would tell myself that being an artist involved an inescapable element of existential dread, woe and fury. What actually ended up transpiring was a continual treading of water that would produce creative work when I could keep my head above the surface long enough to flex muscles other than the ones needed for basic survival.
I went a long time without treatment because I was smart enough to skate by on the minimum and still achieve at a high-enough level to avoid criticism for my laziness. Well, what I thought to be laziness, anyway. Looking back on the whole scenario, I may have simply been unable to control my compulsions–poetry and drawing were necessary outlets that I picked up in order to place usefulness into my obsessive nature. I was able to channel enough raw emotion and invention into my work to actually circumvent convention. My launches into the stream-of-consciousness realm were actually desperate attempts of a feeble will to produce something meaningful despite my obvious dysfunction as a human being.
It took hitting rock bottom for me to face all of these shortcomings in a realistic way. I’d already had a job coming out of college that used my degree, but I took no pleasure from my fortune in the insane job climate. What did I do instead? I punished myself and went to work in the barley mines (brewpub and restaurant) as a host, making barely more than minimum wage on a part-time basis, where I performed duties befitting a glorified greeter.
That environment had the perfect peer group of enablers who made it possible, nay, preferable, to say: “Oh fuck it, let’s just have a beer.” I also found it quite healthy to smoke pot and think nothing of being a grown man hiding in his parents’ house and taking responsibility for nothing in his life. It was as though I had no life. I didn’t know what it meant to be a member of society, and I preferred to simply not explore it, for risk of hyperextending myself and drowning in the world.
But sometimes things have a way of forcing you to make changes and reevaluate your strategy (or formulate one if you’ve been too petrified to put one together in the first place). My behavior, rather, lack of behavior, became overwhelming, and I didn’t know what I was supposed to do with myself. First things first, it was time to move away from that environment of mediocrity I’d grown to inhabit as an escape from reality and responsibility. Reaching out for therapy, I gathered the strength to put in my two-weeks’ notice and abstain from polluting my body, mind and soul with harmful substances (namely cannabis and alcohol).
Leading up to that point, I saw myself as a failure, harboring the perpetual fear of deviating from my path, simply because I hadn’t taken that first step out of it. I didn’t know if I had the power to do it.
Once the critical break from my destructive habits had been established, I decided (for myself, for once) to stop making excuses that allowed me to escape from the natural flow and discourse of life as the vast majority of the world operates. I always figured that being an outsider was a sign of superiority, and that being smarter than the general population meant that I needed to seclude myself from them. It wasn’t until coming to grips with my inability to communicate with my peer group or the world at large that I felt the desire for camaraderie and a forum for sharing my thoughts.
I must have been wary of my off-kilter methods and subjects of thought, as those were the traits that always defined me as a weird individual in school. At some point, I must have reached that subconscious crossroads where I didn’t want to put up with that labeling anymore. I didn’t want to deal with being the eccentric one, so I receded into myself. After years of this destructive behavior, it finally dawned on me that eccentricities are important to show the world, to give the unenlightened majority an idea of just what they’re missing in their mainstream lives.
At my weakest moments, I felt a palpable futility in demonstrating the possibilities of a mind well-used for creative and career-oriented endeavors, as though nobody would understand me and all the time and energy spent in inhabiting my own person in public just wouldn’t be worth the result.
Now that I’ve hopped over that fence, I can reflect candidly and honestly about this chapter of my life. It happened. I can’t deny that it happened. I can only acknowledge it and move on. Looking forward, I see nothing but positivity. I can regain my status as that wacky guy who says odd things and could care less about people’s perceptions, because I’ll know that it’s well within my rights to be a real person amongst other real people.
I can get a job and work within a peer group. I can get an apartment and do all those tedious domestic things that I used to fear for no reason. I can put myself into the romantic sphere. I can work on my own writing and actually finish what I start. I can go back to school and work on a manuscript.
I will continue posting to Wharved. In a way, Wharved has been the lone constant for me during this past 3.5 years, and I’d like to pat myself on the back for at least sustaining one good thing in my life. My goal has never been to achieve fame or notoriety, but to explore the inner and outer workings of my mind. I felt comfortable sharing my invention with the internet during this personal debacle, simply because the internet didn’t need to know that I was dying inside.
Now I feel comfortable bringing myself to a wider audience and giving my voice more to chew on (strange image, but it makes sense to me). My personal voice and creative voice have been dramatically separated for a long time, because I figured that my own life wasn’t worth recounting. Now I see these past several years as a metamorphosis into a mature person who doesn’t need to hide behind words while his self-esteem shrinks away to nothing.
Thank you, readers. You have no idea how powerful your ‘follow’ clicks were for me as I coped with this monster. You showed me that there are people out there who give a damn about my words and my voice, and I want to express my gratitude to you by burdening you with this exceptionally-long post. I kept myself in the dark for too long, and nobody knew about it. Now I’m comfortable enough to let everybody know, and you’re my most cherished audience (after family and real-life friends, of course).
Here’s to another 3.5 years of poetry for poetry’s sake. Won’t you join me?