Everything Little Thing is Going to Be All Right (B. Marley)
Do I still have rough seasons? By all means, and you will hear about it here when it happens. In fact, I've just come through a difficult time. Too many suicide debriefings, health issues, an unusually cold, long winter and a close encounter with accidental carbon monoxide poisoning over the holidays caused by a leak in my manifold exhaust system did a number on me, sent me spiraling downward. In other words, stress caused my PTSD to briefly reemerge.
Of course, when these rare episodes happen no one truly realizes this but me, and those closest to me. I gain weight, don't eat right, and feel tired all the time. I procrastinate, watch too much television, don't exercise, and basically don't get much done but survival.
Behind it all is fear, I suppose. Fear of growing older, fear that my dreams won't come true, fear, fear, fear. That is at the root of the Traumatic Stress Response. It's like a deer being caught in the headlights. You simply don't know which way to move.
When it happens it is usually when someone dies or we get attacked somehow, like someone robbing our house or being blamed for something I didn't do with no way to heal the situation. Actually more of us suffer from this than we realize. New studies are showing that the majority of people now suffer this kind of mild PTSD because life is more stressful than we think. A lot of little things that happen to us can be just as bad as one big thing.
Thankfully, I'm getting my life back. I always do. But it takes work, one step at a time. I'm sure the problems will reemerge some day in the future. I'll know what to do. After all, healing is an ongoing process, never totally done. The creative life is not a destination whereupon you arrive, sit down, and gaze upon your surroundings. It is a continual daily process, a balancing act, and a way of looking at the world.
Writing is a very profound part of that daily process. When my clients are struggling to heal I often ask them to journal. It helps them organize their thoughts, clarify their feelings, and disperses their anger and hostility.
Other times, I've seen writing simply fuel the flames. The student who massacred all those kids at Virginia Tech wrote terribly violent, graphic essays in his English class. Too worried about "freedom of speech" and stifling his creativity, no one thought to call the school psychologist.
It all depends on what we write. Write garbage and you will become a garbage pail. Write beautifully and you will become beautiful. Of course, if you are a garbage pail, garbage is all you'll be able to produce.
This last go round led me to rewrite the ending of River in My Blood, much to my agent's delight. The rewrite made the novel less dark and restored a happier ending. At the time I wrote it I thought I was being faithful to my characters and the story in my head. But what I realized was that I had stored up a lot of garbage and I was dumping it on my readers! Not good.
I think rewriting the ending was a statement for me, a statement that life does turn out alright in the end if we choose for it to, no matter what happens to us. In essence, we write the ending to our own stories, interpreting our lives as we choose in either darkness or light.
I choose light. I choose to live with the belief that no matter what happens to me, "everything little thing is going to be all right." (B. Marley)