A few months ago, I was feeling rather low. I was consorting with worms, and sticking my head into the compost bin to drown out the harsh and awful daylight.
The words "pull yourself together" could not be more apt for a person like me who struggles with panic and anxiety on a frequent basis. At its worst, fierce panic makes one feel like one is literally "falling apart." These clichés were born of truth.
I had days that were not good. Sometimes I had maniacal thoughts: that my kneecaps would just plain fall off my legs, or that my teeth would fall out into my soup. It's called "personality disintegration" or "depersonalization."
I tried many things, including fancy lights, tinctures, pills, breathing through only one nostril.
I also had what's called "derealization"--that funny sensation that the world is not real. I swam out into the world wearing fogged and hopeless goggles. I forgot how to get home, sometimes.
(The story of all this is being told in a book I'm writing called PURSUED BY BEARS. I hope it will one day have a spine, rather than a blinking cursor on a screen.)
Then one day a fellow writer named Anita Howard visited my blog from Query Tracker, and left me one of the nicest comments I have ever received. I had been keeping this blog for a long while, but hadn't even bothered to tell my neighbors about it. (It is a pity that I've told them now, because now I can't write about them as freely. Oh neighbors, I wouldn't say a thing about you, and you know that!)
Some friends had read my blog, sure, and they said awfully nice things as well. But Anita was a stranger. And she talked to me like she was an old friend. I knew right off that she was a good egg.
You probably know her. As another blogger recently said, "she knows all the cool kids." If you don't, go and visit her. I'll bet she'll say something nice to you, too. And she'll mean it. No fakies.
I wanted to say thanks, Anita. Because one never knows when that kind gesture, that thoughtful word of hope, that effort to take time out to reach out to someone will matter. It's true online and in our everyday lives. Smile at a dour person you pass on the street and say hello, and see how his or her face changes. It's magic, ain't it? (Unless they are touched in the head, in which case they may bite you with razor-sharp fangs. Best to be warned. It's not my fault if this happens.)
Here's another fat cliché: Ray of sunshine. And another: Ray of hope.
So yesterday Anita gave me this blog award--one of many that she has given to some other wonderful writers on this Bloggy Wonderland post. It sort of says that I am mad as a hatter. In fact, that's exactly what it says.
If I'm mad enough to startle when a butterfly flaps its wings in Tibet, or despair at my own lurching heart, or count and multiply the ceiling tiles in an effort to avoid staggering into a ditch of my own making, then I am also mad enough to dream, to write, to run for the far borders of my imagination.
Thanks for the reminder, Anita. Oh, and you get the Bacon Award AND the Hot Buttered! I don't suppose you want the sebaceous cyst award? Didn't think so. Damn it.