Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Insanity Defined

Self-Loathing Week, Day Three

(I'm starting to enjoy these. Is that a good thing or a bad thing? I don't think of myself as a masochist...)

Doing the same thing over and over expecting different results.

I've been insane once. I had a nervous breakdown thanks to a six month stint as a foster care caseworker. Seems I'm not designed to practice insanity as defined by Albert Einstein and the State of Kansas. Had I come from a different family, I could have been institutionalized and medicated for a bit.

Doing the same thing over and over expecting different results.

Being a trained therapist, after experiencing my first three-hour crying jag, I pulled out my copy of the DSMIII-R (that's the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual, Third Edition, Revised for those not therapeutically trained. It's a huge book and useful only for insurance billing purposes. Go figure) and diagnosed myself. This was many years ago, but it was something like "Acute Depressive Disorder with Depressed and Irritable Mood."

Doing the same thing over and over expecting different results.

Turns out extreme stress can cause nervous breakdowns. Who knew? Since all the stress emanated from my job, my next choice was blissfully simple. The upside was I quit my job, found a new one and after two and a half years of self-treating with over-the-counter St. John's Wort restored some semblance of sanity to my life. The downside is it broke me in places I suspect will never heal.

Doing the same thing over and over expecting different results.

You've no doubt heard what doesn't kill you makes you stronger. Load of organic compost, that is. Sometimes what doesn't kill you weakens you forever. Remember Frodo after his stabbing on Weathertop? The wound that never healed? He carried it with him onto the Gray Ship decades later.

Doing the same thing over and over expecting different results.

According to Native American tradition, I am of the Frog Clan. Frog lends me strengths and weaknesses. I considered making the frog my brand, but I don't actually like frogs (I knew one. Turns out, they aren't nice). Anyway, I admire a frog's lack of memory. Frogs don't have the ability to learn. They are insane, according to Einstein, but it doesn't bother them at all. Now me, once I've been burned even a little, I go out of my way to avoid whatever caused that pain.

Doing the same thing over and over expecting different results.

A writer is insane. Not only for writing in the first place, but for submitting. Consider. Write a book. Research a publisher. Write a proposal. Submit. Wait 6-8 weeks. Get rejected. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat.

Doing the same thing over and over expecting different results.

Case management taught me insanity is not my normal condition. To seek publication is insane. Therefore, every time I try it, I reopen that wound and experience again all the joys of Acute Depressive Disorder with Depressed and Irritable Mood.

Doing the same thing over and over expecting different results.

You might wonder why I would admit such a thing on a public blog future potential editors might read. I could argue any editor willing to work with me after reading this will earn my undying loyalty (should he want it). I could argue I suspect other writers somewhere feel this way, too, and I want to know I'm not alone. Sometimes taking the risk is the only way to get the reward. Hmm. Didn't I just write about that?

Doing the same thing over and over expecting different results.

The truth is it's part of my self-destructive nature, silly reader. My attempts to sabotage my own success. See, I will never be published because I fear it. I fear the change more than I want the change. Until I deal with that fear, I will never get anywhere.

TT: I have considered just writing books and letting one of the nieces publish them after my death. That might work.

And that's why I loathe myself on weekends when I read about other writers striving for publication with gazelle-intensity and seemingly without fear. I wish I could be one of them. On weekends, I doubt I ever will.

You see, I am not insane. And a writer must be.

Fortunately, the other five days of the week, I'm fairly optimistic. It's generally when I'm awake in the dark holding a sick cat fear shows up and smothers me. God seems very far away at those times, even though He isn't. I suspect He's holding me as close as I hold her.

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