…and out the other side.

Anyone reading this who is sufficiently familiar with my prior blog of unfortunately aggrandizing name (and the one before that), knows that some time back, I experienced a gradual deterioration of my health, resulting in amongst other things, a loss of mobility. I’ve long since mothballed that blog, and the thousand-odd posts it contained, and have maintained a low profile ever since.

The intent was to get myself ready for writing, only as is often the case, a few things happened on the way.

I had envisaged it simply being a case of getting a better chair, tidying up the study and getting a little more walking in. What happened in the first instance, amongst other things, was that I wound up on prescription medication that gave me insomnia for well over a year.

And then there were a hundred and one other things that either frustrated my writing, detracted from my reasons to write, or actively contributed to my depression over the period. Having the ABC’s Religion and Ethics portal’s Twitter account suggest that I hadn’t read a report that I was quite capable of going into technical detail about; fall-outs with intellectually dishonest journos; bad behaviour in the wake of “ElevatorGate”; vexatious legal threats from man-babies; spittle in the face from authors with obvious anger management/alcohol problems; the company of vain, self-absorbed, pseudo-activist poets; people in organised atheism/secularism/Humanism proving my worst suspicions true, despite my granting of the benefit of the doubt; the list extends further before exhaustion.

My only consolations in this are that these have all been a learning experiences, and that nobody gets to tell me “I told you so”; the warnings, where they existed, got all of the details wrong.

So here I am, coming out the other side. Getting healthier.

I’ve dropped thirty five kilos, and am back to packing on muscle. I move faster. I’m lighter on my feet. I’m more energetic. I can feel myself moving towards a place where deadlines are more easily met.

I’m also less inclined to take people’s shit. Far less inclined. I’m less inclined to give too much time by responding, although if I do respond, I’m sure I can do it with greater brevity than before. The fog is lifting.

You know what? All of this was necessary in moving towards becoming a writer. All of it.

I couldn’t have got through to publishing something worthwhile without tackling my health, and subsequently indulging in this horrid auto-biographical focus. As much as I hate it, if neglected, this self-focus would have manifested passively elsewhere in my writing to my writing’s detriment. And this is to say nothing of how my depression would have directly tainted my reasoning and prose.

I’m not done with it quite yet, but the end is coming; an end to this horrid therapy-by-journal-writing.

My emotional palette is expanding. I parse connotation better, and choose my words and tone more quickly. This degree of control simply wasn’t possible for me in 2012, and no amount of writing classes would have helped. The problem was pathological.

So coming out the other side off all this, I’ve immediately been repeatedly hit from various angles, by the same challenge; apparently I’m a do-nothing.

Even as recently as two years ago, I would have fulminated, wondering what could possibly be the motive behind this accusatory behaviour above and beyond my challenger’s ignorance (because there is more to it than ignorance). I would have second-guessed myself, and then scrutinised these doubts for further bias.

Now, beyond a short joke, which I’ll have if I want, I have to confess my caring isn’t much of a factor.

Look, I know I’ve mothballed the vast majority of my decade of blogging, and the institutional memory of most of my past attempts at making the world a better place, at least formally, is erased. Informally though, a number of people remember me, and still value my input, so while more recent allies may not value or recognise my contributions, it’s not something I’m particularly inclined to worry about.

I’m not washed up yet. Not nearly.

If a couple of people want to defensively dismiss me on the basis of my inactivity, especially when they know I’ve been sick almost as long as they’ve been on the scene, and when they know I’ve been incredibly busy, it’s no big deal. The only thing they’ll achieve is a loss of my patience and charity.

And that’s the rub, if there is one; I’ve seen potential in these people, despite the invisibility of their achievements, and I’ve humoured them. I’ve given moral support and gentle criticism, where others have offered abuse and the outpourings of metastasized egos. This has taken emotional energy I could have spent on getting better.

Yet despite the increased emotional acuity I’m experiencing, the prospect of writing these people’s behaviour off fills me with… nothing. Sunk cost? Who cares? Move on.

I guess that’s as big of a “go fuck yourself” as I can bother to muster. My orbit takes me out of here. I’m done.

Other things await. I have plans.

~ Bruce

Still depressed…

… but still chugging along.

Yes, haven’t I been neglectful with the blogging?

Have I taken leave of my senses, stripped naked and run off into the forest, moss growing in my crevices? No, not exactly.

I’m still depressed. That’s not changing. It’s a life-long vocation.

But I’m not about to start chittering with the squirrels either. Not unless someone posts a picture of them to my Facebook wall, in which case I’ll probably gawp and mew, rather than chitter.

People do worry when you remain submerged beneath everyone’s social strata for long periods. But honestly, it’s all cool. Yes, you; I have noticed. Thanks for caring. Now please stop fretting.

No. I haven’t had a social life off somewhere else. Yes. I have been busy. Productive even.

Only, I’m hammering the fuck out of myself of late. My daily caloric intake is hovering around the 1600 mark, and I’ve been a little bit of a fiend at the gym. Relatively speaking that is… I’ve trained harder before, when somewhat younger… specifically at age 29.

Okay… so I’ve hit 40 recently. I guess 11 years is more than “somewhat”.

Still. The weights I’m lifting are going up despite the caloric restriction, and I’ve lost 10k of flubber over the past 4 weeks.

The connective tissue pain of the past 8 years has been reduced to a bare minimum. I haven’t had this kind of mobility since… my 20s…

My 20s… gawd. My first blog post, a few platforms back and nearly ten years ago, was published just a few weeks after the last day of my 20s. And even then before poor health set in, I was somewhat fresh for my age.

I had youth when I started blogging. And more hair on top of my head.

I also had depression, as always, and it was far more poorly managed than now. I’m not inclined towards nostalgia about that.

Right now I weigh as much as I did when I was 25, although that’s no great feat given that I was fitter at 29. My aim is to get down to something approximating my body composition of twenty years ago – perhaps with a little more muscle (for physical comfort and strength, not vanity).

If… If I can maintain the amount of progress I’ve made so far, this goal is conceivably doable by winter’s end. I’d certainly be placed in close striking distance at least.

But this means putting my head down, and continuing to hammer away in the small hours at gym… on a low energy diet… which doesn’t leave me with much time or inclination left for socialising, or for writing.

It’s a fight. And I can justify neglecting my writing for the time being, the possibilities for improving my heath being what they are. Indeed, it’s been my health holding my writing back for some time now, albeit up until more recent years, mostly in terms of the quality of what I churn out.

Exercise is good for depression as well, of course. There’s that.

I am taking care of myself, actually. Thanks for checking. Although I’ll lurk at the surface here for a little while before submerging again. I have a likely spoken word engagement in the near future, I’ve a large, deeply personal post in draft form I’m umming and ahhing about publishing, and my tenth anniversary of blogging is on Monday.

Now if it’s all the same, I think I’ll grab a little shut eye.

Oh, and hello again! And goodnight!

~ Bruce

Just a thought…

800px-Penciltip

It strikes me that in going to great lengths to sharpen your wit, you risk something akin to symptoms of obsessive pencil sharpening.

Sure, for a while you’ll be able to deliver sharp jabs, frequently and with consistency. But before too long, you’ll find yourself fumbling with words, struggling to create anything worth serious reading, the heft of your word-smithing atrophied through neglect.

~ Bruce