14 September 2007

Escape From Chapel Perilous

2 Tishri - Year 5768

I apologise to you loyal readers (all three of you) for not posting much lately. I've been battling with the demons of my own creation, a classic case of what R.A.W. used to call Chapel Perilous. My visits only last a couple of months, thankfully, but they pack a wallop. I have been getting anxiety spells probably most of my life--but they only really made their presence known in 2001 (and no, they didn't have anything to do with the W.T.C. atrocity, as I was already in the midst of the Chapel when that happened, though that didn't help my state of mind at all, at all). It took me a few months and regular doctor visits to break out that time. I had to go on "the meds", which did help and I eventually stopped having panic attacks and insomnia. I thought I was finished with C.P...heh heh..little did I know....

I ended up on another tour two years later and again I got better and again thought I was "free" from it's doors..then again two years after that and this year I was confident I was going to break the cycle, but I wandered through the entrance yet again. I tried to go without the medication this time, but C.P. once again seemed too powerful and vast to attempt a quick exit. Ah well...so it goes. Last month was a blur of insomnia and strong emotion, but I'm feeling a bit better now.

The weird (and ironic) thing about the medication is that for the first week or two that I take it, it actually "spikes" the anxiety and I feel worse than before. That does seem to be a common side effect of an S.S.R.I. (that's a "selective serotonin re-uptake inhibitor"--it's supposed to replace any depleted serotonin in the brain). It takes between 2 and 4 weeks to really start to work. I ended up being signed off of work for two weeks and was told to relax as much as possible. I mainly read quite a bit and went for walks in the fields nearby. I found that it helped, but it was still difficult during the days, due to restlessness. I read an ancient book of Mark Twain's short stories that I'd been meaning to get to for quite a while now. I also read Mike Oldfield's autobiography, Changeling, which, in a strange synchronicitous way--highlights Oldfield's own battle with anxiety throughout his life. Raymond Chandler's The Long Goodbye kept me occupied for a few days, as did James Joyce's A Portrait Of The Artist As A Young Man, which I'd never read all the way through before. I'm reading David Mitchell's Cloud Atlas (spoiler warning: the link is a review of the book) at the moment, which I borrowed from the local library. Another thing I was meaning to do was get a library card--and the time off afforded me the opportunity. I've since checked out Philip K. Dick's Confessions Of A Crap Artist and Luke Rhinehart's The Dice Man, which was the subject of a Maybe Logic Academy course. I'm looking forward to reading them.

I also delved into a lot of my classical CDs--as they've been neglected for some time now. I would play some Satie or Debussy to accompany my reading. I own a few classical guitar discs, so those were given a spin. Kind Of Blue by Miles Davis sets a mellow mood, as does Oregon's Music Of Another Present Era. I ordered the new Richard Hawley album, Lady's Bridge, from Amazon. It's quite good and fits in with all of the other stuff I chose. I bought the new Super Furry Animals CD, Hey Venus!, at the local Tesco, of all places--and while it's not exactly ambient, I gave it a couple of spins just to check it out. My initial thought is that it's good, but not extraordinary--just another S.F.A. album. I don't really like the cover art, either--I miss Pete Fowler's alien landscapes and weird creatures. Ah well, a new kinda-average S.F.A. album seems better than no new album to me.

I've returned to work since then and while it hasn't been completely smooth sailing--I've adjusted back into the daily grind better than I initially thought I would. I've also been getting a bit more sleep in the past couple of weeks, but I'm still battling with the anxiety, especially in the morning. Ah well, I feel like I'm closer to the exit of C.P. than I was a few weeks ago. Then the real work starts of trying to rid myself of the anxiety, or at the very least, learn to cope with it better.

R.A.W. mentions somewhere in the Maybe Logic DVD that one of the unfortunate things about having an illness is that it makes one very self-centred. I've been trying not to let that happen either (though it's very tough at times). Watching the news each night reminds me that I'm far more fortunate than many others on the planet today. I saw the announcements that both Luciano Pavarotti and Joe Zawinul have left the planet, in the same week. Sad. Along with the wars, floods, typhoons, earthquakes & other catastrophes that many are having to face each day--I feel fortunate, indeed.

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