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.

32 comments:

Thomas "Duffbert" Duff said...

I never ceased to be amazed at your ability to survive, Stan... Glad to see you back, and I'm glad those seconds counted.

Ed Brill said...

Stan,

You have a huge community of people who are cheering for your survival. I know it must take guts to admit that you had one foot off the cliff to those very same people. But the human spirit doesn't give up easily, nor does the support network. We are all still here for you, in any way we can be. Stay strong.

Oh and thanks for answering some stuff on notes.net today :-)

Joe Litton said...

Stan, I've been checking your blog almost daily ...most recently this morning. I didn't know if you even had access to email, but had decided to sit down and send an email to try and see how you were doing. As I opened the laptop lid, my RSS reader began pulling updates and I saw that you had a new post!

Whew! So glad to see that you did not complete the self-termination. Best wishes for this new year to be one of peace and continued strenth. Thank you for sharing ...sharing your talents on notes.net and your personal story on this blog.

Jess said...

Stan, just reading that you are alive is the best Christmas gift of all.

Bill Buchan said...

Hang in there man. You have lots of friends - I hope myself included - who just want you as a person to be happy.

Stick with it. Sounds like your on the road to some form of recovery. Good for you - and don't forget - friends are there to lean on occasionally.

Dont get hung up on the "you have to know everything" routine. Believe me, its impossible with this platform. Best just be good to yourself and admit defeat sometimes, eh ? Its what I do - and I suspect other folks do - sometimes.

Perfection ? Its like Zero-Kelvin in an atmosphere. A nice thing to attempt, but a difficult hill to climb...

Be strong, and here's hoping that next year is better than this.

---* Bill

Ed said...

Stan,
Let's hope that 2007 is a great year for the Notes community, and for you in particular.

-Ed

Stu Mac said...

Stan, yours is an amazing story. It sounds as if you have done more and seen more in your life than most of us will ever manage... I too have been checking your blog daily for updates hoping that you will see the upturn you are looking for, and it has made my day that you posted today... Stay strong, and my prayers are with you as we go into 2007. Stuart

dan said...

Stan,

Extremely glad to hear from you. Good, bad; ugly, pretty ... embrace it, let it come, and let it go, and see that your rocking self remains.

Vitor Pereira said...

Stan,

I too am amazed at your strength.
Here's hopping to a full recovery year!
And if needed fell free to vent this way ;-)

Richard Shergold said...

Stan, I just wanted to echo what the others have said really. Hang in there. I was amazed to see that you were still helping others with Notes problems during your recent troubles (amazed but not really that suprised). Take your time getting better. Good luck.

Karen Demerly said...

I don't know what to say... I'm thrilled you're still here and blogging.

I've been visiting this site - The Trouble With Spikol - regularly. When/if you've got time, you might want to stop by if you don't already know about it. Liz has a lot of good stuff to say about mental health.

Thanks for checking in, Stan. It's great to read you again. I wish I had more/better words to offer, but for now, that's all I've got.

Esther said...

Stan, it's so good to hear from you. As Bill said, you can't ever know everything, but I think that your reputation as a legend is fully deserved - not so much for your actual knowledge, but for your willingness to share it with anyone who asks (nicely :o)

Take care of yourself. You were most definitely missed.

Anonymous said...

Stan,

Like some of the others, I checked your blog regularly for word that you were ok.

Am so very glad that you are still with us in 'the land of the living':) As long as you are still alive, you still have hope, right? Or at least a fighting chance, hehehe!

Am praying for your complete recovery: body, soul and spirit!

To your health !

Dan Soares
dasoares@phc.edu

Anonymous said...

I've been regularly checking here for any news too. So glad to hear from you. I hope 2007 is a good year for you Stan

Ashish Sidapara said...

Glad to hear from you Stan, wishes for the very best in 2007.

Anonymous said...

Stan,
Please don't wait so long to post again. It doesn't matter what you write, only that we hear from you and know you're there. We miss you. You're in my prayers.

brandt said...

Of course you can't know everything there is about Notes, Stan--that's what the forum is for! But you have helped so many people over the years (myself included--i would have never figured out building custom built classes in LS if it weren't for you) that you don't need to worry about how we feel about you and the help you have given us over the years--we all appreciate it (as can be seen by the responses here.)

i think that because so many of us know you from the forum and don't live in Toronto, we can't do much to physically help you. But a kind word and encouragement to keep going, no matter how dark things may seem might be the thing to brighten your day. I know I am not the only one who misses your wisdom on the forum Stan.

So like everyone else, I wish you a speedy recovery and a regular return to the forums soon! Cheers!

gregg said...

Stan, I think that you can tell that it is the silence that had us all worried. And that when you do post, there is an amazing number of people that listen. Be well.

Joydeep Gupta said...

Stan,

As has been already mentioned by others, I, too, used to check your blog regularly. Absolutely thrilled to hear from you. Wish you well for the new year. Am in absolute awe of everything you know... and thanks for sharing the same.

Joydeep

Ben Dubuc said...

Just glad you're back, man.

From Dan, Eliott, Patrick and myself, have a 2007 that will put you at ease with life.

And if you need something, please let me know: Montreal Toronto isn't that bad, especially since our winter is so ... not there!

Alan Lepofsky said...

My best wishes to you Stan. I come home to Toronto several times a year, if you'd like to meet in person, please let me know. I'm glad this blog gives you an outlet to share with us all, and more so that it allows everyone a way to communiciate with you. I hope all the good wishes from the community help you.

Alan Lepofsky

Anonymous said...

Hi Stan,

Best wishes for 2007, take care of yourself.

JYR alias Jean-Yves from Quebec city

Peter Herrmann said...

Stan, great to see you back. I was told once that "no one is special but we are all unique". You certainly have no burden to carry with the Notes community. Your uniqueness (from here) is your ability to assist, discern, describe, solve and support. Long may you live, prosper and continue your contribution where ever and to whatever you may choose. And all the best for an uplifting 2007.

P.S. I actually often use the "AND Stan" operator in my searches :-)

P.P.S. Readers, don't forget the Paypal button.

Anonymous said...

Stan, so glad to see you're OK, or at least on your way to OK.

Look after yourself, and use that support network all you can. Know that we care about you, and that we want you alive and happy.

Helen.

Coatsie said...

I was getting worried about you - I'm really glad to see you're back !

Coatsie

Mike said...

Gutsy post Stan

Glad you are still with us - hang in there sir. As one other comment said, just let life come and go and enjoy it

No-one knows everything. There is no test at the end.

We are judged by how we touch other people's lives - and I can safely say, you would be someone I would like to have a coffee with one day!

Mike

Axel Janssen said...

Hi Stan,

I sincerely hope that your mind finds rest, peace and ease.
Please keep us informed about what will happen to you. I wish you all the best. You can be proud about yourselve.

jonvon said...

cheering for your survival, that is exactly it.

we love you a lot stan. we're here, in one form or another.

Rob Wunderlich said...

Was just stopping by to check on you again.

Hope all is well, Stan. A lot of us are thinking about you ...

- Rob

Anonymous said...

Stan, good to see you're ok, and my best wishes to you.

Richard
Dublin

Charles Robinson said...

I'm not sure what prompted me to drop by, but I'm glad I did. Thanks so much for being so incredibly open about your ordeal. Few people in the mainstream treat mental health as a serious issue, but you've shown just how serious it can be.

If there is anything you need that we, your adoring fans, can provide, I hope you can find the strength to let us know. All we want is for you to be healthy and happy. We like you for who you are, not what you do for us.

Nadeem said...

Stan: I have been reading your contributions to Notes.net, and have always found you to be a very reliable source. While searching for something, if I see your name in the discussion hierarchy, I just jump to it, and save myself a bit of time!

I just stumbled upon your blog ... and read your posting of 12/28 ... and boy, was I stunned!

I obviously don't know you, but can certainly understand the level of stress one goes through in life. We are constantly juggling items (projects, relationships, responsibilities, goals, passions), and sooner or later, the load becomes overwhelming. It certainly takes a strong person to be at the brink, and come back. With this posting, you have shown your incredible strength!

It's a lesson for everyone. There is no problem, no matter how insurmountable it might seem on the surface, that can not be solved if one just gives it some time. This sounds easier said ... and yes, it's extremely hard to be a bystander while world crumbles all around us. But it's this realization that could be the difference between a minor hiccup and a catastrophe.

Good to have you back. Please post some more thoughts. Best wishes.