Friday, April 16, 2010

Let it be

I realize I haven't updated in a looooooong time, but what the hell, here we go for another entry. This entry is going to be long, so brace yourself.

For anyone who didn't know, I spent 6 days the start of March this year in the hospital due to seizures. The last time I had had a seizure was when I was a baby so it wasn't exactly a regular occurrence for me. I had been feeling weird for awhile before March, but at the end of February I began having what I think were mild panic/anxiety attacks, and that combined the several months of gnawing at my mouth in my sleep finally forced me to go get checked up. I had gotten a CT scan the day before I was admitted into the hospital, and everything was clean, so they sent me out with a clean bill. Next day, I had the first seizure, one of those where you just stare off into space for a little while. By the time I was taken to the hospital I was was pretty delirious, having these absence seizures at least a couple times every 30 minutes or so. I won't give full breakdown of what happened but pretty much it got really bad for one day after I got there and then the seizures completely stopped and despite my situation I was in a place of stillness I suppose (maybe it was the drugs they were giving me). Flashforward five more days, I finally get discharged and my doctors are going over the EEG results with me and telling me I have Epilepsy. I asked if there was anything else it could be and they said the EEG clearly showed that it was Epilepsy. So I left the hospital drugged up and a bit down I suppose, no one likes being told they have a lifelong chronic neurological condition. Although from the second I heard him say that diagnosis there was a very clear voice from inside that said that was wrong, I did not have Epilepsy. I got a bit emotional with the doctor and left promising to get a second opinion, etc. I spent the next few weeks staying as happy as I could despite everything, and oddly enough I found it very very easy being happy and such, perhaps more so than before. I slowly came to realize all the bullshit that had been making me anxious for months before the seizures had simply evaporated. It was just gone. And that was because most of it didn't matter. I talked with close friends and family back home and really made me feel a lot better and a lot of people (people who were not doctors) were saying that they didn't think it was Epilepsy either. All in all it was all good. Mom came out and visited a last week and I went back in for another EEG, and had another appointment yesterday to discuss the results. Well, as unbelievable as it sounds, the EEG was completely clean, totally normal. He said he was very surprised. The doctor told me that pretty much rules out Epilepsy, and in the absence of other problems/symptoms since the hospital and since I am totally healthy, he said whatever it was has worked itself out and there's no need to worry! I can drive again and I'll be off the meds by the next month. Good stuff right?

I've been thinking a bit lately about what really precipitated everything, and I really think a big part of it was the subconscious accumulation of anxiety and stress, which was never released. I can't count the number of times I needed to cry for instance, and held it in (a terrible idea by the way, which I'll explain in a moment). As you know, the driving license was a pain to get, super stressful but finally managed it after six months. Soon afterwards is when I started biting my lips while sleeping. And the more I think about it the more I realize, as odd as it sounds, the seizures and a week in the hospital were what I wanted (Maybe not the way it happened, admittedly). But I needed a vacation. I kept telling myself that. And that's what I got. Nine days off work; sure Nagano municipal isn't as glamorous as the South of France, but it was good enough for me. I needed a reset. Like your computer after it's brought to its knees by too many processes running at the same time, when the only option is a hard restart. Maybe that's what happened to me. I had so much shit (not really at the forefront of my mind, mind you) rattling around inside that it was time for a hard stop. I was still the happy go lucky guy everyone knows of course but I had this persistent uneasiness about a number of things grading at me for awhile. And the seizures stopped that, forced it all out in over the course of two days. Because after that I was simply still, and since then it's like a massive weight has been lifted. No more worrying about irrelevant BS. I didn't worry much as it was but you'd be surprised at the stuff you have going on inside that will make itself known if it is not addressed and eliminated. And that's the rub. Because since the hospital I really feel like my life has changed for the better. As Mark Twain so aptly said, “I've had a lot of worries in my life, most of which never happened.” This makes sense now. I have realized that when anxiety accumulates it is never good. It manifests itself in different ways for everybody, but at some point the chain will break, take it from me. So that's why my new policy is, one every few months usually, or whenever I feel like a lot is on my plate mentally, I stop, sit down at my computer as soon as I can, and then put on an emotional clip/movie (you know, the ones you always get misty at if you're a guy but stop yourself from crying at for the sake of vanity, even when you are alone watching it for some inexplicable reason---My release button is Say Marimo, I then proceed to cry like a little girl, I mean really let it all out, balling and weeping as your eyes sting from tears that needed to be let out so many times but weren't. And then, after several minutes (depending on how much tension you had) a magnificent thing happens. The cries literally turn into laughs (for me at least), so much so that I walk around for the rest of the evening with an idiotic, slapstick grin on my face. This is when you know you're good, when all that tension is gone. Afterwards I grab a beer and sit in the bath for awhile. Crying is one of the most therapeutic and cathartic natural processes we have and it is a shame that it is so underutilized, especially by the male population.

By the way, I also recorded a new song, have a listen (

Alrighty, that's it for now, I'll try to update once a year from now on. Cya.


1 comment:

My name is Mike. said...

Oh man, I know exactly what you mean about letting out that stress buildup. I'm not sure how I missed seeing this post for so long. I've spent rather a lot of time thinking about these things.

I have the occasional near-nervous-breakdown. I've never handled stress well. Most recently it nearly led me to quitting grad school.

I'm rather overly neurotic and introspective, so I was fully aware of the rather long list of stress factors I was putting myself through. Not the least of which was a 3-month migraine due to messed up sinuses and stress. I was cranky, miserable, and snapping at people a lot. Then I had a couple of those "necessary moments" that life throws at us. You know those things that happen at the exact right moment that you really need to see, hear, or experience whatever it is.

The first was impulsively buying an album on iTunes. I was having a phenomenally crappy day and decided to download some music to take my mind off things. I hadn't heard most of the album, and I quickly found that nearly every song was exactly what I needed to hear. They each related to exactly how I was feeling that day. Listening to it all on loop was amazingly soothing and cathartic.

The very next day a book I had ordered the week before arrived. That book turned out to be my second "necessary moment". It's a book a teacher I had observed recommended because she often teaches it as a unit. "The Alchemist" by Paulo Coelho. I read the entire thing straight through as soon as I opened the package. It's about a shepherd boy from Spain that goes on a journey in pursuit of his "Personal Legend". It set me straight and convinced me to stick with my grad program. It hit that "reset button" like your little "vacation" did.

After all that, I was able to deal with the migraines better, and I was able to just let all the stress and BS I was dealing with just roll right off.

Anyway, I'm glad to hear you're doing alright again! If you want another good movie to watch for a cathartic moment, check out The Ultimate Gift (link below). Very cool story.