Thursday, September 3, 2009

A rock and a hard place.

"Life is not a spectacle or a feast; it is a predicament." - George Satanyana.

Here' s my predicament: One step up and two steps back seems to be where my life is headed at this point. As much as I have wanted to move forward with both career and life goals, it seems as though I am stuck in neutral, with no clear way to shift forward - at least until last week.

It's no secret that I struggled with depression about seven years ago. A laundry list of reasons, from 22 years of riding on an ambulance, to my illness and transplant, to the loss of a very dear friend, all these things built up to the point of crushing my psyche. It also had the effect of stripping away the best part of me, the Mr. Nighttime that was evident during my long years as a paramedic.

This was driven home to me recently when I was reconnected with an old medic buddy of mine, who recounted the story of what I did in the emergency department of a particular hospital in Brooklyn. I remember the incident well. It was my buddy's first week as a paramedic, so new that the sheen was still bright on his license that he carried in his wallet.

We brought a patient into this hospital that was having some mild trouble breathing, and before we left, I wound up shoving a doctor out of the way while he was trying to intubate the patient, (he was doing it wrong) for he was killing the poor man. I intubated the patient on the first shot, and just growled at the doc to do what I told him when I told him to do it. My buddy told me how awed he was by this that he never saw anyone do that to a doctor before, and to this day he tells that story from time-to-time.

I remembered everything about that incident, save for the part at the end. My buddy told me, "Yeah, but when you told him (the doc) he was about as useless as tits on a bull, that's when I almost lost it."

I said that?

This was the part that got to me. I began to recognize that the Mr. Nighttime that could have the brass cojones to say and do what he did in that emergency department all those years ago, that Mr. Nighttime is what is missing today. Well, not missing, but buried somewhere. It was that Mr. Nighttime that drove himself to being a writer, a speaker, an actor, and it is that Mr. Nighttime that got himself promoted twice within the medical center where he worked.

The person who I was back then was aggressive, and focused. I lost a lot of that along the way, and have been struggling to get it back for the past 10 years or so. I need to get that person back completely, if I am ever goign to gey myself out of this suck-ass job, and where I want to be as a person, and as a writer, amongst other things.

I put myself back into therapy recently, and through an exercise we did, the one thing that stood out was that the most important thing that I saw in myself was my desire to help people. I can't do that as a paramedic anymore, and I have not been able to find that one thing that allows me to have that with the regularity that I was used to: the day-to-day stimulation from riding on that ambulance provided. I get it piecemeal now, through writing, acting, improv and some other ways, but it isn't the same. This is what I think, has been the greatest impediment to my being able to move forward.

My predicament? Getting back to where I once belonged.


Gaston Studio said...

This post really 'spoke' to me Mr. Nighttime and I want to tell you why if you don't mind a long comment.

I suffered from endogeneous depression (chemical imbalance) three times in my life to date. Unfortunately, the first one was part of my life for several years before it was discovered, diagnosed and treated with meds which corrected the problem. Except... I was different after that first bout, and after the second and the third. I know in my heart, I lost part of what made me the 'me' I was before my brain synapses began misfiring. I mourned that loss for several years because what was missing was somewhat like you described, an assertive and focused behavior that was part of my psyche.

I don't know if this is the same type of depression you had, as opposed to the 'normal' type which is brought about by outside forces such as dramatic changes in a person's life like divorce, death, etc. But I hope, for you, it's the latter so that you truly have control over its outcome. The loss of control was the hardest part for me to deal with, but I got over it.

Food for thought here, Mr. Nighttime. Just food for thought.


Sistertex said...

What I would like to say is something that would enlighten or make things seem brighter, or even lift one up somehow. But all I can come up with today is that I understand where you are at and though most people always feel, 'no one can truly understand where *I* am at', I have been feeling that way as well. So wishing I could get back to where I was before life beat it out of me.

I wish you lots of luck with it all. Hugs too.

Peter said...

I hesitated to post a comment at first, since your account of the past 10y touched on so many experiences I went through myself. The details may well be very different, but the end result is quite similar.

And to make a long story short: I'm still trying to find that focused behaviour that was part of me. Taking care of people, being where the action is: it's just no longer a part of my life.

Should I just accept it, as holding on to dreams of a life that we no longer have is what keeps us going, and keeps us looking for change? Much like yourself, I'm not sure how that answer that question.

jay said...

I've lost it too. *Sigh*

I wonder if it's a part of growing older, as well, and that many people simply do not notice it happening to them because they never did have much drive? Those of us who did can look back and say 'see what I've lost? I'm diminished'. The others say 'I've slowed up a lot as I've got older'. Just a thought.

Me, I had a severe bout of 'chemical imbalance' depression in my early twenties, and after I recovered I found that I'd lost my ability to make decisions. Took me a while to notice, actually, because depression itself robs you of that, but I find now that I can make day-to-day, unimportant, decisions, but anything of any real import, I get stressed and often give up and hand the decision over to someone else.

The depression has revisited a few times, but never so severe.

Susie of Arabia said...

It may be just a part of life's natural progression. I know I'm not the same person I was ten years ago, or twenty. Things change, circumstances change, and life goes on. I know for me, I've lost parts of myself that I always thought identified me as me - and I don't think I'll ever get them back.

Bina said...

You told me that story once, and I love it. Who doesn't love a take charge kinda guy?

I can completely understand how after everything you have been through, it would be hard to find that part of yourself again. And I wish I could offer you some advice, but I haven't found MYSELF yet, and I have been trying to do that for that last few years.

Hope you are doing well my friend.

Guyana-Gyal said...

I think what you've written here will touch most some point, that important part of ourselves starts slipping away. Lucky is the person who realises and takes steps to recapture it.

Every now and then I have to stop, re-examine goals and tasks.