Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Celebrate September 12th

Whereas most Americans recede into a deep, somber remembrance mode at this time of year, I don't.

Not because I don't mourn the tragedy that was visited upon the world, drastically changing the meaning of "9-11" in our lives.

Not because I'm politically antithetical to the current establishment and administration, their policies, their actions, their rhetoric, their combative and destructive elitist morality, among other things.

Not because I don't believe the official story of what occurred on this date, now six years ago. Not because I feel no grief for the victims-- those who lost their lives, gave their lives in service of others, their families, or anyone horrified and haunted by the images that played over and over and over on channel upon channel for hours, days, weeks after it happened. Not because I am skeptical of our leaders' alibis and denials of complicity in missing warning signs, not reacting sufficiently or rapidly or decisively enough, both at the time of the incident, and the ongoing "War On Terror."

No. None of that.

While it may be true that I have opinions and beliefs that run counter to the pervasive, collective mythology that surrounds and reinforces the way most people continue to characterize the events of September 11, 2001, it is not at the root of why I feel a great disconnect from the memorials, the moments of silence, and even the celebrations commemorating heroism and selflessness.

I empathize with the victims, their families, the first-responders-- all those who suffered so greatly on that day, and continue to suffer since. I'm not looking to take anything away from them, or purport that I understand what any one of them has gone through, or continues to go through; Nor do I wish any ill-will or mean any disrespect whatsoever to any human being that was affected, directly or indirectly, by the ghastly, horrific events which unfolded beginning that morning, and continue unfolding and rippling through the collective consciousness to this day.

I'm just being honest. I wasn't really there. Not all the way, anyway. And now, six years later, I'm still trying to put the puzzle back together...

You see, I had experienced my own personal "9-11" of sorts, a little more than a month before "9-11" was a distinct, iconic, gravely descriptive term.

I had gone on vacation, off to Greece with my wife and an old friend and several of his family members and extended family members and friends. And near the end of the adventure, I had my own catastrophic collapse that changed my life. Forever.

Only I experienced the trauma, every aching second, dismally and utterly alone.

There were no images broadcast throughout the world, or even to friends and family, or people in my close vicinity. Yes, others were traumatized, as I was, by what I was going through, not the least of which was my wonderful, steadfastly supportive and loving wife.

But six years... and I still grope for words. I have recollection; I remember emotions, some specific events and some horrific interpretations, hallucinations, and discomfort. I remember wild, dynamic, fantastic images of grandeur; scenarios that my mind played out, and presented to some conscious part of me. I wrestled with random thoughts, madly weaving hyper-psychotic threads into patchwork garments of broken logic. Somehow, I was there (wherever that was), experiencing these things along with my mind, my body, my perceptions... But I was also somewhere else.

All of the tools that I usually had at my disposal to assist me in assessing my well-being, my sense of self-- my very location in the space-time continuum-- were at least malfunctioning, if not completely broken. I lost track of Who I was, Where I was, What I was, What I was doing, What I had done-- all context was suspect. And thus, anything and everything was believable, somehow logical. Anything and everything was possible.

This is the hyper-astounding, thrillingly perilous double-edged sword of an experience, which was later diagnosed (much later, in fact) as a manic episode.

What would follow, after hospitalization, stabilization, medication, and a return to the familiarity of coming home, would be a deep clinical depression, lasting for the better part of two years.

So forgive me if my perspective differs from yours.

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

What of this "Tripolarity," Anyway?

For those about to rock...
It was a seemingly enough amazing vacation plan. We’d go to Greece for almost two weeks, seeing the country like no regular tourist experiences it. We’d have a native family to guide us, interpret for us, entertain us, and assist us.
It all had come together so dramatically—like a tightly written chapter in a biographer’s masterpiece. I would be ending my tenure in Engineering, one that had become increasingly more and more stressful, for the dream vacation with my wife and a friend I hadn’t seen in many years (as well as many others). And upon returning to the mainland, I’d slide into my imagined idyllic job in the Finance Department.
But just when all seemed set, and paradise found, the unfathomable, unexplainable, unplanned major fork in the road curve ball fly in the ointment outta nowhere kick in the head derailed all storylines, all realistic visions of the future.
Or so I’m told.
Yes, this is my story; but I’m still making sense of it.
If there’s sense to be made.

He and I had attended college together; we were "Dormmates" Freshman year, "Floormates" our Sophomore year, "Housemates" our Junior year, and thus, lifetime friends. We shared in the experiences of growing up, being on our own, living and studying and trying to find the ever elusive perfection of love, wherever she was.

We had many shared friends, and even more shared experiences-- Winter break trips to Chicago and Valparasio, grand drinking excursions and loud parties, both hosted and attended. We shared a love like brothers, persisting through disagreements, arguments, and the necessary mistakes which bring great learning.

But by the end of our time in Greece together, I would be left scrambling within my mind, wondering if he was one of my best friends, or the greatest foil I'd ever ran up against.

And by no fault of his. Who knows what reality was. It didn't matter. I was living inside my head. And it didn't make sense to me.

Even though it felt like it did. Fleetingly... it was a fluid lucidity; making sense in the moment. And as time passed, context was forgotten, replaced.

I'm guessing that there was just too much coming in to make sense of. Sensory overload.

So that's what I've been trying to do over the course of the past six years-- organize, rehash, vocalize, chronicle, and analyze my recollection and tell the story that I've lived through.

Get comfortable. This could be a rough ride.