Tuesday, July 13, 2010
I'm looking to get this sent out before I board my flight ...
No matter how many raccoon triumphs I may enjoy, no matter what state of acceptance I may feel I have reached, I know - some stinker is always out there, waiting, with its ass pointed in my direction.
Early October, 2006 saw the publication of my book: Living Well with Depression and Bipolar Disorder: What Your Doctor Doesn't Tell You That You Need to Know. It's amazing, in hindsight, how I didn't see it coming, but we never do. One day I was winding down from a round of book-related speaking engagements and radio interviews, making a mental note to pick up a Thanksgiving turkey, the next my marriage broke up.
I had been married (for the second time) for nearly three years, living in central New Jersey. On December 1, ten days after my break-up, I boarded a one-way flight to San Diego, wanting to sleep and never wake up. I woke up anyway, 40 miles out in the country, to a searing Van Gogh sun against a brilliant cobalt blue sky. Where there should have been a Walmart was a valley surrounded by 4,000-foot peaks. Time to check out my new neighborhood.
Raccoons Respect My Piss - But Watch Out For Skunks is a metaphor for life on a planet not of my choosing and coming to terms. Who was I? That Elvis-loving six-year-old who on a dare climbed on a bull (okay, maybe it was a steer)? Or that small skinny nerdy 12-year-old afraid to board the school bus?
What was wrong with my brain, anyway? A prominent psychiatrist said that no one understands depression and bipolar disorder inside and out better than I did, and I had a new book to prove it. But what was really going on beneath my skull? Here I was, my life in ruins, stuck in some kind of weird quantum singularity way out in the middle of nowhere, with the skunks and raccoons, unable to so much as go out and buy mouthwash without planning a Donner Party expedition days in advance.
Why, of all things, was I feeling better - much better - rather than worse?
I didn't go searching for recovery. Recovery came looking for me. Recovery is for YOU to figure out, I wanted to scream to audiences who kept pestering me about it soon after my book came out. It has nothing to do with me. But I was changing. The person talking about my book in 2006-2007 was not the same person who wrote it in late 2004-early 2005. Something happened after I got off my one-way flight at San Diego.
Raccoons Respect My Piss - But Watch Out For Skunks is my quest for answers: Listening to a prominent brain scientist discuss the fine points of a gene variation with a Nobel Laureate sitting five empty seats over in the same row as me. Experiencing a Zen moment - stepping out of my own shit for five seconds - as a distant peak caught the last rays of the setting sun. Dealing with whatever life threw my way, including whatever happened to walk in through the cat flap. Slowly, I began connecting the dots. Slowly, my writing began to change.
As Socrates said, "The unexamined life is not worth living," and who am I to argue?
First Seven Chapters
Chapter 1. The Truth About Raccoons (and Some Lies About Skunks)
An introduction to my life, as seen through two separate amygdalae - my own and that of a skunk.
Chapter 2. Seriously, I'm the Wrong Person to Be Talking About Recovery
Ask me, instead, how to spell ophthalmologist.
Chapter 3. Cool Brain Science Stuff
It's all about nature via nurture.
Chapter 4. Zen Moments, Ramen Noodles, and Other Weird Shit
Healing happens, but don't expect to stay in the same place.
Chapter 5. Peanut Butter People in a Tofu World
It's not easy being illogical.
Chapter 6. How a Six-Year-Old Superman Became a 12-Year-Old Wimp and Other Mysteries
Who the hell are we?
Chapter 7. Me, Captain Ahab, and the Anterior Cingulate
Why can't we just get under the hood and fix the damned thing?
Very much looking forward to my New Zealand visit ...