Spring Cleaning

Clearing

I’d read the same paragraph about neuroplasticity three times and been unable to remember what the major point when I made the decision to kill off a part of myself. I did it with a tiny little pill. It will be a drawn out death, but it’s not a murder. It’s self-defense.

For as long as I can remember, a highly structured, complex fantasy world has occupied a good portion of my brain. Psychiatry journals tell me I use it to cope with anxiety and PTSD that I should be old and experienced enough to manage without a tiny little pill. But, as I annotated another article on the miracles and vulnerabilities of the human brain, I realized that by letting my cranial amusement park stay open, I’m a hypocrite.

My still embryonic career as a special educator has focused on children with intensive needs, specifically children with behavioral and mental health issues. I’ve been where many of them are. They’re my tribe. But the most important part of my job is to helping them be present in the world — something I’ve lacked the courage to do consistently. To be present for them, I know I have to be present for myself.

I’ve had the the pills (and several other similar prescriptions) in my pill drawer for a few weeks now. I’ve told myself I’m holding off to make sure the side effects don’t get in the way of work, but, after reading a paragraph three times because I keep returning to the fantasy world, I realized things are already getting in the way of the first truly meaningful professional experiences of my life. The fantasy world even gets in the way of making art.

There are things that get in the way of work and life that you can’t control like a chronic illness. I’m starting to accept mine, albeit ungracefully. But there are the things that you can control, and all of that control starts with being honest with yourself. Honest that mania and depression do not improve your creativity; they keep you from picking up the brush. They are not the inevitable byproduct of discovering a very real disability; they are the excuse to wallow in the fantasy world.

Killing that world is scary. It means cutting off and escape from reality. It’s even scarier than admitting that, in your fifties, you have the fantasy world in the first place. But, today, the realization that it, and not any disability, could keep me from doing the things I desperately want to do, meant that it, like a tumor, had to be irradiated.