Thursday, December 28, 2006

Out of the silent blog

I know it's been a while since I last surfaced. The past couple of months haven't been a whole lot of fun, and I certainly haven't been my usual self. I'm not sure who I have been, or even where I have been at some points along the way.

I'm afraid I don't do muddled and confused very well. I've been severely depressed before. I've been known to become reclusive from time to time. I'm not even surprised by the occasional suicidal ideation anymore. But this is the first time that things have ever been this bad. Before I hit the hospital, I was in a dissociative fugue for about three weeks. Luckily, I was jolted back into the moment in the midst of hanging myself. Another thirty seconds, and the story would have been much different.

Did I actually want to die? Not at all. But I did have a couple of years worth of unresolved stress that I had entirely failed to deal with, and at some level I wanted so badly to be rid of it that I was willing to do whatever it took. Whatever, that is, except recognize that I had a problem and ask for help with it.

Since I walked into the CAMH emergency department, shaking uncontrollably and in tears, I've had a few good days, but most of the time I've been lost — I can't concentrate, I've had nothing that resembles a short-term memory at all, and I can find even the simplest problems overwhelming. Not exactly the ideal arrangement for a guy who's supposed to be able to make a living by making soluble molehills out of intractable mountains, is it?

SSRIs (specifically, fluoxetine) are (so far, at least) keeping the suicidal thoughts, or, rather, my willingness to act upon them, at bay, but I'm left with an enormous, undirected anxiety. No, I don't think anxiety is the right word; it's more of an adrenaline rush that simply won't go away. All of the physical components of anxiety without any of the emotional complications. For the moment, I'm controlling that somewhat with a low-dose bezodiazapene (clonazepam) every so often, but that's not an acceptable long-term solution, especially for someone who has a proven track record of susceptibility to addiction. It may be a while before I find the right medication. I'll know I've found it when that JavaScript library starts to make sense again.

I'm out of the hospital now, and have just moved back into the world from a Salvation Army post care facility. The Sally Anne? Yeah, I had done everything leading up to my move to ZA, including divesting myself of unnecessarily bulky winter clothing and remaining furniture, etc. I count myself incredibly lucky to have had my melt-down before getting to the airport; I can't imagine what might have happened had I arrived in a foreign country in a catatonic state.

For the next little while, my life will be a mix of doctors, support groups and the like. And I need the support, if for no other reason than that I need to vent a little of the frustration I feel at being reduced to a comparative idiot. All my life, I have been able to take my intellect for granted. It has been my defining personal quality, informing everything else that I am. Without it, or at least without full-time access to all of it, I am a little less sure of who I am and where I fit into this world.

It's not all bad news, though. There's always been something about being knocked off of my high horse that brings the truly important things in life back into sharp focus. My time at the Sally Anne reminded me that, despite my breakdown, things could always have been worse. I have become very active in AA again. If nothing else, my story can serve as an example to others that a bad break or two in sobriety is not a sufficient excuse for relapse, and that sobriety alone does not necessarily mean and end to the struggle of living. There is, after all, no problem so big that alcohol can't make it bigger. And whether my story helps anyone else or not, working with still-suffering alcoholics is pulling me out of my little cesspool of self-pity. I have only ever really been myself when I've forgotten about myself.

I hope to be able to get back into the development game again someday soon, but that day is not today. And if the day should never come, if I should never completely regain my abilities, that's okay too. I can be at peace with it. It was incredibly flattering to see myself described as a "legend" by colleagues I've admired since I began working with Notes and Domino, but my inability to accept that reputation was a large part of what led to my near-demise.

I am used to coasting through life. I have had a lifetime of accolades arising entirely from my innate talents, all the while knowing that I had been pulling the wool over everyone's eyes. I have played the great impostor, knowing enough of how to talk the talk that I could fool most experts into believing that I was an expert on any subject. This Lotus stuff was the first time I ever really put an effort into learning anything, and yet there was always the feeling in the back of my mind that I was fooling everyone again, that whatever reputation I had developed was a shoddy façade that would collapse the moment I was actually challenged. And let's face it, I don't know everything there is to know about Notes and Domino, even on my good days. I don't think anybody does, or that anybody can anymore. There's just too much there there. Nonetheless, I was determined that I would need to know everything before I could really feel like I knew enough. Talk about setting oneself up for catastrophic failure!

Thanks to all who have written. I needed the boost. And my most sincere wishes for you and yours that the new year bring happiness, love and contentment in generous measure.