On Masonry / by AB Mann

What I write about when I’m not writing about writing.

Something in my brain shifted recently, both literally and metaphorically. I started seeing a therapist; rather, I started seeing a therapist again.

Perhaps I should back up a little.

Two years ago, I saw a therapist. At the time, I was depressed and had been for a long while. Not the marbled, rich and red depression, the one I am too familiar with from ages ago before I was a well-formed human being. No, this was the low-grade, mealy and gristly sort of depression that lets you get just so close to success or completion or a breakthrough before you get a mouthful of sinew that forces you to put down the fork and walk away.

I wasn’t really taking great, consistent care of myself. I sort exercised. I sorta ate right. I sorta avoided alcohol. Except it was all half hearted. Not much exercise, not much good food, too much alcohol too many nights. The therapist told me that, well, you really need to get the basics in order first. Sleep. Exercise. Diet.

Yeah. she was right and I knew it. You have to do the basics first, get your ducks in a row, before you can really say you have something worth diagnosing.

Dilapidated House

The last two years

I got my ducks, have them cute hats, and kept them all in a line. The last two years, I have exercised more consistent, eaten so much better, regularly skip the booze in favor of water.

And yet. I’m still flirting with that rich, red depression and keep knocking holes in the wall. It’s always there. Like I know I can keep buiding but I expect it, just down the road a little, to punch through a stud and the wall comes tumbling down.

So, when I went back to my therapist after two years I described all the things I hd done, all the objectively good things in my life that… That I just didn’t care about. That if they vanished, I would slump my shoulders, and say, “yeah, I probably didn’t deserve it anyway.”

Which is a problem. You start working with bricks adn cement, you expect the house to last.

“Yes, that’s not normal,” she said. “You are doing everything right; you have a great baseline now.”

“It shouldn’t work this way.”

Cathartic

Having someone else verIfy that you are not, in fact, a complete screw-up of a human being, is an amazing thing. I had spent, essentially, my entire life assuming I was doing something wrong. That my lack of regular, consistent happiness was not my own fault. Getting that validation for someone else, someone not in my head, was so… freeing,

So freeing. Like opening the windows in spring, I felt, for days after.

Fresh air.

So. She referred me to a psychiatrist who, very quickly, said precisely the same thing as my therapist after a fairly short discussion. I certainly have a family history of depression and bipolar disorder; my father, in particular, exhibits much the same behavior that I do and i likely inherited some imbalance from him.

Wellbutrin

The psychiatrist started me on a low dose of wellbutrin and it’s been a few weeks now. Having seen my therapist again since starting, she says things are Different. Whereas I, ever skeptical, think things are only different.

As in, I have noticed some additional awareness of and resilience to the spinning, gnashing, destructive cycles my brain manufactures (because they are figments) like an aging house. I cannot see when the foundation first cracks but I sure as hell can tell when that wall starts leaning the wrong way and the window gets stuck, god damn it.

And I right it. And let in fresh air.

The little things that lead to a big thing

It’s much of the little things I notice that lead me to believe I’m heading towards that capital “D” different. Like, I am writing more (like constantly, almost every day) and, what really amazes me (really) is that I’m editing more. That may not be much to many but it is new to me.

When you use writing as a way to feel something, expose something, to remove something from yourself, you cannot bear to re-read and re-view and re-work that thing; it is too raw, it is something to be shed.

Now, rather, I write these things to capture a moment or idea or emotion to let it stand as representation of this thing. It is something to craft rather than expunge.

This feels monumental to me, about me. The desire to do justice to that which I make, to get it right rather than get it out.

It’s hard to describe.

But I’ll try anyway

It is like I had a foundation, lots of bricks laid out, but they were misalignment. Anything placed upon them was tenuous and, though you could get that structure pretty high, it wasn’t going to last. The last few weeks, I have straightened out the rows, added mortar, and am keeping those lines true as I go.

Staying longer at better

I’m feeling better is what I’m saying.

I have the beginnings of a room of my own. I’ve put a comfortable chair in there and I’m thinking I may add a table.

Not too soon, mind.

But soon enough.