The Conversation

Arrrr. This photo is unrelated to the story that follows…

“I think I need to see Nicole.”

“You’re feeling pretty bad, huh?”

Who’s Nicole?

She’s the only mental health professional I see.

Tourette syndrome, obsessive compulsive disorder, general anxiety disorder, (rarely) depression, social anxiety. I should employ an army of neurologists, psychiatrists and therapists. Instead, just Nicole. She’s not a psychiatrist, although she does a great impersonation. She’s a nurse practitioner. She manages my medications, the psychotropic ones. Tracy, another nurse practitioner, manages the rest.

Does it sound like I take a handful of pills every day? I do. Besides the pill I take for Tourette and the two I take for anxiety and OCD, there are the high blood pressure and cholesterol meds. Oh, and iron. Two of those. If I could get a free pass to eliminate one medication, it would be the iron. God, I hate the iron. I take it in the morning. Sometimes during breakfast, sometimes after breakfast. There’s no rhyme or reason, randomly I feel like crap. The iron leaks back up my esophagus and lurks just below my larynx. A vague uneasiness settles over me. My forehead sweats. I feel almost, but not quite nauseous. It lasts for hours.

Susan and I walked around our neighborhood. “When you say you feel bad, what are you feeling?” I found it hard to name.

“I don’t know. Anxiety? Foreboding? I feel it in my chest. A nervousness.” Susan listens to podcasts by two Buddhist teachers. They endorse poking at your feelings until you can identify the source. She prodded, but not for long. “Unsurprisingly, my blog is involved.”

Susan thought I meant the stats. I have a long history of obsessing over stats. Yesterday, I would have agreed. Today I found clarity. “My blog doesn’t distract me like it used to. There just aren’t that many bloggers anymore.”

Distraction. At work I feel fine. Plenty to distract me there. When I get home, I look for something to do. It used to be my blog. Reading, commenting, responding. Now everyone, well almost everyone, some portion of everyone, is gone.

“I think you’re at a crossroads. You need to replace what you’ve lost on your blog.” I don’t need to see Nicole. I don’t need to adjust my medications. I just need to talk to my wife. “When do you feel best.” A leading question. She knows the answer: When I’m running. “Well, you can’t run every day, you’ll get injured. I think you benefit from the deep breathing.”

I felt better after the conversation and hours later, the feeling remains. Susan might be right, and I have nothing to lose. I’m going to experiment with deep breathing when I lift weights each morning. I want to see if I can replicate the peace I find when I run. As for filling the hole left by WordPress, that may take some time.

~ ~ ~

What do you think? Did this piece work? I settled into an unusual (for me) writing style. I’m discombobulated. I finally broke down and got some eye patches to combat my double vision. Operating with one eye is disconcerting. I notice it wreaked havoc on my spelling. That red, squiggly underline has been a constant companion all evening.

23 thoughts on “The Conversation

    • Sometime in the next few minutes, I need to extract myself from the couch and give my lifting/breathing thing a try. When I lift, do sit ups, etc. I focus on counting, which I always considered meditative. We’ll see if this is an improvement. Concentrate on being graceful. I wonder if that’s the same thing as concentrating on good running form. I think a distraction like that helps blank the mind.

      Liked by 2 people

  1. Maybe this senryū (written by my alter-ego) is relevant to you and Susan. Anyway, I hope you like it, and I’ve left it up to you to give it a title.

    such a gentle wife
    obviates revolution
    this gentle leader

    All the best to you and your’s.
    I hope the breath work helps.

    DD and Typo


      • My composition and accuracy are painfully slow, which is one reason Typo and I do short pieces. The moniker Typo occurred to me after reading one of Bruce’s pieces on Brian Eno at vinyl connection, and reading a bit about honouring errors. The tag helps to remind me that my goal is good enough, not perfection.
        I also picked Typo as a nickname for my alter-ego Blake Mouse to emphasise that Blake is an anagram of Bleak…
        Jeff I hope you get the thrill of blogging back; you entertain, inform and inspire.
        Thank you

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Breathing is important, it’s also fascinating to sit and just breath, good luck with it.

    I’m having a WordPress crisis as well although sometimes it’s okay to just sit with things for awhile, it’s a better community than some others we could all be involved in.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Yes, a much better community than I might find on facebook. I’m in a FB group with other Touretter’s over 50 and also Authors with Tourette. I think there would be a good amount of connection on these platforms with so much in common, but there really isn’t.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Iron, huh? I had an intravenous infusion last year that helped. May be worth investigating.

    I enjoyed the piece, Jeff. Not quite sure what yo are asking for, but I responded to the conversation with your partner; that special knowledge that comes from long term intimacy.

    Of course the reference to blogging and WordPress caught my eye. Increasingly we write for ourselves and a small group of (often occasional) others. Is that enough for you?

    – Bruce

    Liked by 2 people

  4. I always come away from reading your blog posts, Jeff, with a thought or seed which will resonate with me for some days. I returned to WordPress over a year ago after a break of about four years. Of the all the social media platforms I have tried this is the most supportive. I understand what you say about stats and how they can drive our thoughts of success. Sometimes we never know who is reading or what impact our posts are having. Likes, comments, and views can become a false currency. Like Bruce says, maybe writing for ourselves is the key and everything else is a bonus.

    Liked by 2 people

    • I once wrote a post essentially asking all those people who read and never hit like to identify themselves. On reader, posting anonymously, scolded me, saying she likes reading what I write but she wishes to remain anonymous, and I should stop badgering her. It’s a good reminder that we all get something different from the wordpress platform. I should be happy with what I have. I try hard to do this now.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Remarkably, other than the iron, I don’t seem to have any negative side effects from the medications I take. I know this is unusual and I’m really thankful. I’m certain I’ll keep running and blogging. Not sure what I’d do with myself otherwise.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. The tension of this piece really landed for me. I feel anxious with you and for you and also feel seen, somehow – perhaps because you capture this queasy, familiar uneasiness that I suspect(?) many of us feel and either try to ignore or don’t know what to do with. That said, I do hope you get some relief soon. And I am now more conscious of the idea of locating a particular emotion in the body. Thank you for that. Sending my best to you and Susan.

    Liked by 1 person

    • MY ongoing anxiety has really weighed on me over the past several weeks. I’m glad I could capture it. I’m certain that stupid eye patch helped. But today, 50 degrees, an hour long run and good blogging engagement, today’s a good day.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. I’m sorry you’re feeling so unsettled and uneasy, Jeff. It is a horrible feeling, I know; I very often get a sort of ‘niggle’ that starts in my stomach and works its way up to my brain. I don’t know the cause, but it’s damn annoying, especially when I’m trying to concentrate or write. I know how to do the breathing and how to meditate, but I never make the ‘effort’ to do it when I need to. Like you, I’m on a lot of medication – some for depression, some for anxiety, some for sleep, and cholesterol-lowering drugs – I could go on, but that would be boring. I do wonder whether the drugs affect my concentration, as I struggle with this.

    This blog definitely did work, Jeff, as your other readers say. I feel you put your heart into your writing and whatever you’ve blogged about stays with me for quite some time. I often find myself thinking about you and the topic you concentrated on for a few days. I love the honesty with which you write – that really appeals to me. I feel that I know you personally, which feels genuine, not just as a fellow blogger but as a friend, even though we will no doubt ever meet.

    You’ve got nothing to lose if you try the breathing that Susan suggested. I’m glad that you have such a lovely, understanding and caring wife; also that you have Nicole on your side, too. I’m pleased you still manage to run sometimes, even if it isn’t as far as you used to run. And please, don’t give up on your blogging – you’d be very much missed by all your readers, me included.

    I can only imagine how annoying it must be to have an eye patch. Things must look very different when you’re only focussing with one eye. It’s not surprising you say you’re having difficulties with spelling, although it’s not evident in this piece. (Sorry for another mile-long comment from me – I need to learn how to abbreviate!) All my best wishes to you and Susan (and Nicole, if she’d like some.)

    Liked by 1 person

    • I actually haven’t worn my eye patch since I wrote this story, but I’m having a bad vision day and suspect I’ll be wearing it later today. I like to say that my meds don’t give me any negative side effects but in truth they may flatten out my emotions dramatically. Is that negative? Maybe, sometimes. I’ll let Nicole know you’re rooting for her. I don’t know if I ever told her I write a blog.

      Liked by 1 person

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