Tuesday, November 21, 2006

An Epiphany So Big It's An Elepiphanty!

14 April 2006For some time I have referred to an epiphany I had last Spring. It was as transformative to my thought processes as I could have prayed for, and although I have not been free to implement the changes as rapidly as I would have liked, I still have steadily worked to alter my life in the new direction. It was such a stunning realization that I labeled it an "Elepiphanty". I assure you that it is far better than that tortured pun.

I had hoped to write about the epiphany here in this blog, but I never seemed to find the time to commit to a long writing session. Truth be told, I was bored thinking about re-contemplating my navel after I had already done so already. I was more interested in new ideas and new epiphanies than explaining anew old ones. This doesn't mean I have put the epiphany out of mind. I refer to it all the time to help keep myself on track. You see, I recorded it in my journal.

I realize this might seem odd to some people, but I am compelled to write personally as well as publicly. One would think two or three blogs would be enough, but my appetite for expression is not hedged in the slightest. I have volumes of personal journals that I have recorded since I was just days before turning twelve. And now I record every few days my thoughts and musings in a beautifully crisp and classy Moleskine lined notebook. I no longer write about Star Wars, comic books, my school days, or troubled or unrequited loves. I write in metaphor, wax eloquent (or attempt to do so at least), analyze myself, chart personal progress, and reread my entries to stay the course.

17 April 2006So when I thought about posting my epiphany in a blog I wasn't highly motivated. I had already expressed those thoughts, but as I was rereading the epiphany the other day it occurred to me that I could just type my journal entry here instead. This would give some of you a peek into the inner workings of my mind while also saving me time. Maybe it would inspire some of you who struggle with disabilities similar to mine (all four of you who read this blog). I'll include the sketches I wrote about to give this epiphany visual as well as verbal impact.

The new awareness began after I followed a successful drawing (the one up top on the left) with an awkward, stilted drawing three days later (the one just above on the right). I was so horrified with the results, and it was so hard to get the drawing to be at that level of competence, that I stopped drawing completely. Then I heard a podcast about master guitar player, Pat Martino, and how he had to reteach himself to play the guitar after surgery for a brain aneurism. Suddenly, something clicked in my mind and I finally understood my struggles in a new light...

25 April 2006

Tuesday - Entry 10: Sometimes my life is a tempest in a teapot - so much drama. So much energy. All that excitement with no results. I still struggle with this and that. I still stare wide awake into the night. I still struggle to find myself. I still need focus. And yet I am not the same man. I am much improved.

I am pleased my weekly column, the Splintered Mind, keeps my interest. I am glad to draw again. My backstory work on my novel moves along nicely...

I believe I have finally discovered why my life is still so chaotic. As you may know, I have AD/HD, clinical depression, and Chronic Motor Tic Disorder, to name a few things that trouble me. When my depression acted up in the past I would lose months of my life. I never seemed to stay on the same path - somehow I would wander off in a new direction. Over time I learned to control my depression to the point where I would only lose hours, but still I could end up lost and off track.

Now that I am beginning to identify the tic disorder as a symptom of a larger problem I am beginning to see the inconsistency I complained of in the past as the largest obstacle I need to overcome.

When I come out of a period of ticking I am changed. I first began to notice it last month in my art. I had always attributed my rocky art skills to a lack of practice, and to a degree it was true. However, I suspect these episodes have more in common with aneurisms and seizures than laziness. I was drawing so well two weeks ago. Then I entered a long ticking period and came out of it months out of practice, not weeks. I've not only unlearned the skills and confidence I had gained prior to the episode, but there is a wall in my mind resisting my attempts to reclaim lost time. This has been going on for fourteen years and I was oblivious. Instead, I blamed this on AD/HD and my low tolerance for frustration. After all, my AD/HD was pretty severe.

The problem is I pinpointed how I adversely reacted to the problem, but I failed to pinpoint the actual cause.

Now sleep comes to me quickly and careless errors follow. I will explore this latter. I know I am onto something.

26 April 2006

Wensday - Entry 11: To test this new theory I am going to redraw the lilies I failed at nine days ago first thing tomorrow. I am not going to avoid drawing any further. The experience of failure is so excruciating for me I stop drawing. Here I did it again. Nine days. Oh, I timidly sketched, expecting failure and receiving it. Still I repeat the patterns.

Tomorrow I will draw knowing I have a neurological wall to break through. I don't understand it fully, but I am beginning to give a name to my enemy. Just as I did with Depression, I am beginning to see the marks of the beast as an external enemy and not as a failure within myself. Tomorrow I draw thinking not "What is wrong with me? Why am I such a loser?" No, instead I will think "OK, Easter Lily. We meet again. I'm not going to let you and my neurological disability kick me around anymore. I _know_ I can draw. I know the skill is in there and I'm going to pull it out kicking and clutching and slap it down on the blank page."

I have never fully understood the effect my tic episodes had on my art skills. I always blamed it on personal failure, or AD/HD and my terminal boredom, or a lack of character to see the skill through the dull parts. I never realized that my neurological disability was the invisible barrier. It is too soon to proclaim victory. My theory is untested, but I relish the battle. I pray I won't tic so I can test my mettle. Can positive thinking make the difference here, too?

27 April 2006

27 April 2006Thursday - Entry 12: First experiment was a success! My skill is still a touch behind my usual competence but my drawing today was much better than before. Psyching myself up to succeed despite the barriers made a large difference. My drawing still feels crude but because I drew with full knowledge of my neurological wall I did not get discouraged when I crashed into it - even with tool troubles. Taking success in the small victories was how I clawed out of my depression from before. I'll claw my way out of neurological mediocrity as well.

21 June 2006Attitude made a difference. For some reason, the ticking episodes affect the part of my mind that controls art, but I can compensate, I believe, if I apply myself and steel myself up for the challenge. The differences may be minute to somebody else's eye, but for me the difficulty or ease of the drawing process was as large a part of the problem as the competency of the image. In the past the two steps forward/one step back process has been depression inducing, usually ending up with me not drawing for long periods of time. It was simply too painful to be so subpar below what I knew I was capable of in my mind's eye. However, given the choice between never drawing again, being lousy at drawing for the rest of my life, or figuring out a way to improve, I'll opt for improvement. My hope is that I can raise my base level so that I'm pleased with my art even on a bad day. I will achieve this by reforging new neural pathways through practice and perseverence. My therapist called it "art therapy". As you can see from this sketch from last June, I may be onto something.

I don't know if I expressed my struggle adequately here, but this is a start. I know I'm making progress, and I believe I may lick this problem yet.