My history tells me I am the owner of a previously capable brain of well above average ability. I have studied wide-ranging subjects of interest to me and understood those subjects to my complete satisfaction. That may be a false memory or ego or self-loving exaggeration talking but at least I have felt comfortable believing it was true for most of my life.
I've lost that loving feeling.
I don't think it is lost forever …. and that, itself, is a source of frustration. I still believe, even at age 65, I can get back my big powerful brain (or the fantasy that I have one) and, when that happens, my life will be better. My internal life will be better, at least, and that is pretty important to me. If I would just give up, I could dive into another lovely depression and everything would be perfect.
But no! That's too easy.
I measure the value of my brain by its creative productivity. There was a time when being creative was such an important part of my life that I spent as much or more on-the-job time developing creative ways to do a better job than I spent doing the actual job I'd been hired to do. Though others in my company sometimes struggled with responsibilities thrust upon managers at my level, I was bored by the work's simplicity and flawlessly sped through most of it so that I could spend time on more creative things. I even led my subordinates to complete their tasks quickly so that they might join me.
And I often spent more unpaid hours “working” at creative endeavors at home than I spent getting paid in the office. Sometimes that homework was job-related but most often I smoothly glided between writing poetry, songs, or stories and producing music in my home studio. I remember fondly those joy-filled days when my brain was at its peak and hours flew by.
I miss joy.
If you follow my work you may have noticed that a lot of my writing is about the frustration of not writing enough; this is another one of those rants.
I told myself I'd write about my ongoing health issues. I even created a blog section strictly for that purpose. I thought I'd have plenty of inspiration (or guilt) that would push me to write. I even titled the blog section “Wellness Triage.” That title was supposed to make me want to keep my health-related writing current.
It didn't happen.
The last entry in Wellness Triage was six months ago. A lot has happened to the status of my health since then. Not all of it might have been interesting enough to read but it should have been interesting enough to write about. After all, the other reason to write about my health was to avoid hiding from my health problems. My tendency toward avoidance and denial still lingers even now. I put things off far too long and choose to not write or think about them. Nor do I decide what to do and then do it.
I say all of that to say this: recently, as my physical health improves, my brain keeps playing tricks on me. During some of the difficult days of the past months I had legitimate reasons for being unproductive. A number of important things got way behind and it will take a lot of hours to get my life back to the organized state I'm comfortable with. For some reason I get overwhelmed by thoughts of this.
Here is how that plays out:
I think of something I really want or need to do and decide that I will do it. Then my brain plays the trick. I remember one of the many things that I am behind on and realize I should do that instead.
That's the source of my article title – “I Can't Do This Because I Ain't Done That Yet.”
The problem is I end up doing neither thing.
I don't really want to do the catch-up thing anyway. It's going to be a lot of work and no fun. So I look for a distraction and pretty soon I'm doing nothing or surfing the web or watching TV. Right this minute I'm struggling with the fact that I should be doing one of those things I'm behind on. It took me four hours to write the first sentence after deciding to do this article. My mind is a distraction-seeking missile …. speeding away from joy and toward its favorite target – wasting time.
Today is not the first day I realized my mind was playing tricks on me. It's happened a lot since I left my career but I've chosen to push those thoughts out of my mind in order to avoid the accompanying discomfort. I feel certain I could have single-handedly built an Egyptian pyramid in the time I have wasted during the past thirteen years since my 2001 collision with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.
But I'm not whipped and I'm not giving up.
I can fix this. I know I can.
I can't say with confidence that I will fix it …. but I can. And I will try. But I know my history. Making bold claims does not always lead to bold deeds. For me, sometimes the bold claim is followed by some of those aforementioned distractions; they permit this previously capable brain to forget the bold claim ever happened. And sometimes, too often for my comfort, a bold claim or any significant success is immediately followed by some serious blow to my health or to some other aspect of my life. Imagine what it is like to feel that something bad must always follow something good. My mental state has improved a lot since I began therapy in 2009 but I haven't been able to shake this dark view of what might lay ahead for me.
Well, at least I have managed to write this short article. Only the future will tell what I will do with the rest of my life. I want to do a lot. As I've said before, I want to do important things that will justify my continued existence on this planet. So all I can say to you right now is stay tuned and observe the outcome.
All I can say to me is …. I hope my previously capable brain stays tuned too.