Saturday, March 22, 2014


A journal entry morphs into a blog post . . . 

I have Lillia’s manuscript in my possession. It arrived yesterday but I have not started reading it because I continue to feel tired and weak. I can’t even concentrate on fluff, let alone on Lillia’s book. I want to get this job done right, really right. Reading this book is my opportunity to begin earning the credentials I need to convince others what I already know, that I am a damned good editor.  I know I can do it. I just need a chance to prove myself.

I haven’t written a word in two days. I can’t stay awake and focused long enough to get my thoughts down on paper in a way that makes sense. I don’t think I was this sick two years ago before I had my nervous breakdown. At least I don’t remember feeling this bad for this long. My chest wall and head ache from the debilitating cough.

Yesterday, when I was hungry for the first time in days, I thought the end was in sight. But I ended up taking cough syrup twice and floating through the day between naps. I am forcing myself to stay awake right now.

Parrish, the same man who stole two-thirds of my cough medicine last weekend, who ten days ago took money from my purse and without benefit or permission or a driver’s license, took my car to the store to buy beer, has been acting like someone I don’t know. Since trying to pawn a watch on Wednesday in order to get money for beer, he has come about-face.

Wednesday afternoon, when I warned him once more against the kind of behavior that would get him evicted, he didn’t seem to understand. I couldn't tell that he even heard what I was saying. His father called, and in Parrish’s presence, I told him that I was discouraged and exhausted at P’s unwillingness to do anything at all to help stabilize his moods and control his impulses. I explained how hard I have been trying to give him some tools with which to help himself, how I have directed him to web sites where he can express his feelings without fear of rejection, where he can communicate with people who understand his illness. I told him how, every day, I urge P to exercise his brain and his body. While I was on the phone, P sat across from me looking as though he were in another world.
After that conversation, I gave in to a feeling of helplessness, a sense that things would never change, that we would find ourselves reliving the past forever. I surrendered to the depression that is always lurking in the back of my brain, waiting for any entrée into my consciousness. Coupled with my physical illness, it ushered me back into that eerie comfort that distancing myself from reality brings. Having already retreated to the bed, I remained there, searching for insulation in wasteful pursuits like Facebook and solitaire. I worked cryptograms until my vision was blurred, napped at frequent and fitful intervals, hid behind the haze of hydrocodone that quelled my cough if only for a while. 
I refused to write, telling myself there was nothing new to put into words, that writing had failed me and left me to tread water in a sea of sadness. 
This morning as I started to write this post, intended for my journal, it came to me that while I have been in this funk, the usual stressors in my life have been absent. Parrish has been helpful, even proactive in doing the things that I ordinarily have to remind and cajole him into doing. The kitchen is clean and orderly for the first time since he moved in. There is fresh water in Honey’s bowl. The recyclables are where they belong instead of in the trash. Yesterday, when I wanted to eat, he cooked me a frozen pot pie and served it to me in bed. 
Parrish has been following world events with interest and enthusiasm, coming to me from time to time to share ideas and observations. Just a few minutes ago, when I asked him to update me on the situation in Crimea, he sat with me and pulled up a map of the region on my laptop. While he chronicled the recent geopolitical events, his passion for history was palpable. He wasn't manic. He was on subject. His thinking was clear and organized. 
He asked me to download Lumosity to his iPad and immediately immersed himself in it. Yesterday, we watched Mercer defeat Duke in the NCAA tournament, and he didn’t talk the whole time. He walks Honey without having to be reminded. He is reading a book by Stephen Ambrose.
What happened to the self-absorbed and manic man of the last two weeks? Where did he get this ability to focus? Where did he find this desire to help himself? Where did the self-pity go? Could he have processed his options and decided on some level that his only chance of staying here is to work on himself, to be a part of the solution? Could he be asking himself the same hard questions that I have been asking him? Could it have occurred to him that his life could actually be easy and pleasant?
It is possible. There is always room for a miracle. It is also possible that this shining new man will revert to the disorganized and self-serving person I have come to accept if not respect. It is possible, in fact probable, that this is the quiet before the next storm. I can’t stop myself from remembering how totally normal P seemed on the day before he tried to kill himself. I’m publishing this because I want my readers to understand that life isn’t always hellish for us. We have our moments, in this case, our days, and I am grateful for them. 

Copyright 2014 cj Schlottman

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