Thursday, October 28, 2010

The good doctor

I'm sure my mother will blanch with disappointment reading this, but I went to see a noted Los Angeles psycho-pharmacologist yesterday (ie. a pyschiatrist who can dispense meds if necessary).  With three of my friends (that I know of) now on the wonderdrug Lexapro (for depression), I thought, as one does, especially if one is of a slightly hypochondriacal bent, I must be depressed.  That's the reason why I have such trouble writing this damn book! *Snaps* Coming to this conclusion was a true God-given, hundred angels from the realms of glory singing in three-part harmony epiphany. THAT'S it!  It was my Henry Higgins moment.  The blog's not a problem. The short pieces aren't a problem. I've even been known to knock out a poem. But the novel is a dark ogre that haunts me at night, that follows me wherever I go, that has me stuttering excuses whenever anyone asks, 'How's the book?"  Oh how I hate that question.

I've become the Supreme Fudger.  I just don't know what to say any longer. How many ways are there to say "I'm still only half way through and I've overwhelmed by it and I think I might try to shoot myself because I'm so scared of..." What exactly? What am I scared of? Ergo, I'm depressed.

"Why did you decide to write a book?" said the nice therapist. Let's call him Dr. Klaas.  "Well, it seemed a little bit more, you know, sensible than saying I was going to climb Everest."  Dong! Yes, I realize climbing Everest would have been easier.  That became blazingly apparent.  And about as obvious as albino crow.

So here's my thinking, if you will bear with me: if I can get a diagnosis of depression and be put on a miracle med, my problems might be solved.  The fear is related to the depression, right? So if I get rid of the depression, I'll be all buoyant and fearless and within a few months, and nary a day more, my book will be finished, done, completed, concluded, sewn up and wrapped in a big red ribbon.

I also had a Plan B.  One I'm quite proud of.  More fiendish, perhaps than the first.  I devised a cunning plan, using Google quite liberally actually, to get a prescription to stop my procratination and ease my burden.  My son (who was diagnosed with ADHD only last year) says Adderall is a complete Godsend, that before he was on it he would sit in the college library for hours and not get anything done, and now he is focused as a bird dog, with complete tunnel vision from dawn to dusk. His papers flow from the nib of his pen.  His mind has never been more clear. All joking aside, it has changed his life.  How wondrous, dear reader, does that sound? Here's the thing, there is research that shows that good, old-fashioned procrastination is linked to ADHD.  How about that?

Dr Klaas has a very nice office in a building with many other psychiatrists. The walls are a soothing Tiffany blue and the doors a complimentary chocolate brown. There is a light and airy feel in the building. It is positively screaming "good energy."  I enter his waiting room and immediately switch off the light, mistaking it for the switch you press that alerts the doctor you've arrived. An auspicious start to my visit. He came out and greeted me warmly. Once I'd sat down in his very comfortable beige Eames chair (see figure above) he explained, both politely and precisely, the questions he would be asking me in order to ascertain why I'd come to see him.  I sat forward in my chair, eager to answer his questions as well as I could. (I'm a bit of people pleaser, you see.)

When the general health part of the quiz was over (yes, I'm healthy, I exercise, I eat properly and I sleep much better now that I've discovered the hypnotic effect of a bottle of TylenolPM on the night stand) the questions went a little bit like this:

DrK:    Could you take notes while attending lectures in college?
MsW:  Yes
DrK:    I ask that because people that suffer from ADHD have found note-taking in college lectures to  be a complex and sometimes difficult thing to do. Many sufferers use tape recorders instead, for example.
MsW:  Well, a lot of our classes were one-on-one tutorials.
DrK:    Do you forget things?
MsW:  Yes! All the time.
DrK:    Like what?
MsW:  I walk into a room and forget why I'm there.
DrK:   That's called aging.
MsW:  I lose my keys?
DrK:   (smiles as one would at a dimwitted child)
MsW:  I'm irritable. I don't suffer fools.  I get mad in traffic.
DrK:   Do you have obsessive thoughts?
MsW:  Well kind of.
DrK:   What kind of thoughts?
MsW:  I obsessively scour my brain for brilliant sentences?
DrK:   That's not quite what I meant.
DrK:   Do you still enjoy things that you used to enjoy?
MsW: Yes
DrK:   Is your appetite good?
MsW:  Um, yes, exceedingly.
DrK:   How about sex?
MsW:  Well, I'm not opposed to it.

(I'm not opposed to it?????? What the?)

After about 45 minutes of this, Dr Klaas looks at me kindly over the top of his glasses, smiles beatifically and says, "From what I can ascertain by your candid replies to my questions, I do not see any signs of depression. You seem pretty well-adjusted and quite happy, in fact.  I don't really see any signs of ADHD either, but I'll give you the benefit of the doubt. You do have a son with it and it does tend to run in families."

"He gets it from his father" I blurt out (I know, am I an idiot? Couldn't I keep my mouth shut? I was nearly there, for goodness sake!)

The good doctor chuckles and scribbles down something on his notepad while saying "He gets it from his father" and nodding his head.

"I'm going to give you a questionnaire to take home with you. Just answer the questions without too much thought, fax them back and I'll take a look.  If they suggest that there may be some ADHD, we'll set you up with the special TOVA test.  Okay?"

I sit still and wonder whether I should be happy or sad.
"But I thought you could give me some medication to help me finish my book?" I say.
"Ha" he says, kindly. "No, but there are lots of people in this town that can help you. Therapy for example can be highly beneficial for writer's block.  Do you know how many writers there are in this town?" He smiles again, his eyes twinkling behind his glasses. He's very hard to dislike.

"Well thank you Dr Klaas" I say. "Thank you so much for your time."
He shakes my hand warmly.
"Good luck!" he says.

I leave utterly mortified. The good news is...what exactly? I'm not insane and I'm not going to be scoring any Adderall any day soon.

Back to the old drawing board.


LPC said...

Given that I am struggling to even write a book proposal, how anyone writes a book is beyond me. I think you are eminently sane.

Miss Whistle said...

Oh LPC I wish you lived closer and we could have a support group. With wine, preferably. X

LPC said...

I was just telling my significant other that what I need is a woman's writing group. But I'm such a snob that I might be insufferable unless the other were, well, like you:). Also yes to wine.

LPC said...

Others. With an S. The plural form...

Little Brown Bird said...

I do empathise Miss Whistle.

I suffer from the terminal inability to finish anything. I'm an intiator, a starter; finisher I am not.

I wonder what it says about me?

You'll finish your book when you're good & ready x

Miss Whistle said...

LPC: Yes, absolutely, agreed. My writers group is my favorite thing to do each week and I'm in awe of everyone in it. They're not all the same, but we love each other in a rather sweet way. I think you'd like it.

LBB: Thank you! Thank you for that. Yes, we all suffer in the same ways and yet we always feel alone. You've cheered me up!

sacramento said...

Thank you very much for your comment in my blog. i do hope to see you again. I will also pop in to your wonderful blog.

AftonHH said...

I enjoyed reading about your candid trip down therapy lane :) I was diagnosed with ADD and Generalized Anxiety Disorder when I was in high school. I've been medicated for years (not anymore) and can tell you, while the meds were helpful, that nothing beats actual cognitive/behavioral therapy and some good old-fashioned soul-searching. I'll always have to deal with the disorders but, having built those mental and emotional resources makes me that much more confident that I can live well and happy.

I too have been suffering from writer's block (on the music side). My favorite barista at my local coffee shop shared a helpful quote with me the other day that made me stop and go " HA! ohhh..ok":
"Our greatest fear is not that we are inadequate, but that we are powerful beyond
measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that frightens us. We ask ourselves,
who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, handsome, talented, and fabulous? Actually,
who are you not to be?"

best of luck with it all!


Miss Whistle said...

Afton -- It's a wonderful quote and seems to be attributed to either 1) Marianne Williamson or 2) Nelson Mandela or 3) Samuel Jackson as Coach Carter (after a quick perusal of Google). I don't really care who said it. I shall add it to my favorite quotes.

I'm glad you've conquered your ADHD. It's good to know that all artists face blocks. Thank you so much for your comment.

Wzzy said...

I've often thought you should morph your blog (the essays, at any rate) into a book, much like happened with Quinn. You're a brilliant, perceptive and funny writer. I know thats not a novel, perhaps, but I'd certainly buy/read it! xo

legend in his own lunchtime said...

ADHD you are not. Your writing is focused and crafted, your art and poetry choices show an appreciation of beauty that could only be achieved with a clear and unclttered mind. I suspect it has nothing to do with a lack of ideas, rather a self criticism that shuts out anything not considered perfect. Try and let your ideas, even imperfect ones, take form. I think you'll find your book in unexpected places. Don't let the perfect shut out the great.

Northern Snippet said...

I read this with interest.From reading your blog, I've seen that your writing always flows seemingly effortlessly and before you know it you've finished reading it.I think that's the difference between someone who is talented at writing or not.But there is a difference when you are given something as more of a task to complete(from a psychological point of view).
Now I would never consider myself a good writer I write anecdotal incidents on my blog about everyday things that happen here.But recently someone asked me to write about a specific subject and guess what? I just couldn't do it.
Maybe its just overcoming that hurdle in your mind.
Hope this makes sense haven't really articulated this very well!

Glenland Ladybird said...

I love your blog and the pictures are always cheering, although that Cortachy summer snap seems depressingly long ago. Hey ho, we have autumn colours and an hour extra in bed tomorrow but sadly, my Dr is on call- now that is depressing xxx

Mrs L. said...

Fucking hilarious!

Miss Whistle said...

I'm incredibly touched by all the kindness.
@wzzy @legend @snippet @ladybird @mrsL @lbb Thank YOU! Very grateful.