Sunday, September 28, 2008


I'm not sure which part of the recuperation process bothers me most, but I'm particularly frustrated by my lack of independence, my lack of stamina, and my lack of creative thought.

I live alone and am not yet supposed to drive. I must rely on others to run errands for me and, of course, nothing is ever done quite the way I want it done or when I want it done. I'm frustrated by my lack of control over my life, and by my lack of independence. Where once i could jump in the car to run errands whenever I felt the need, now I must coordinate everything with family and friends.

Yesterday, for the first time since surgery, I went to the grocery store. The trip through the store was probably the most time I've spent on my feet since returning home--despite daily walks--and I was frazzled by the time I returned to the car. I have become one of those people who clog the aisles as we toddle along, not quite sure where we're going or what we intend to purchase. I've discovered that it's just as frustrating to be one of those people as it is to be caught behind one of those people.

Although I've managed to spend some time working during the past week, most of my work has been editing and proofreading, tasks which require knowledge and attention, but which do not require any particularly creative skills. My intense desire to write, the urge to push ideas from my head through my fingers and onto the page, has abandoned me. I've had no new story ideas, have had no desire to create imaginary worlds populated by characters that spring from my mind, and have had no happy-ever-afters desperate to reach the page. I know I'll regain my independence, I know my stamina improves every day, but my lack of creative thought frustrates me most of all.

After all, I self-identify as a writer. If I'm no longer writing, what am I?


pattinase (abbott) said...

Keep the possibility of surgery-caused depression in mind and please seek help if it hits. You may not even be aware that it's there. My mother at age 83, with COPD recovered from this surgery. You will too.

Susanne said...

Michael -

Some of the "down" feelings are perfectly normal, but Pattinase is correct that the surgery (and the lack of sufficient oxygen to your brain prior to surgery because of the extent of the blockages) can indeed cause clinical depression.

It's sometimes hard to tell the difference (especially while your body is still healing.) Please don't hesitate to ask your doctor if short term medication might help you over the hump so to speak.

The creative urges will come as soon as your body doesn't have to concentrate quite so hard on healing.

In the meantime, how about starting a writer's sketchbook while some of the feelings are so fresh and vivid ... like how it feels to suddenly be the person clogging the aisle in the supermarket, what it's like to go from being totally self sufficient to almost totally dependent ... to use once you're back to writing three or four (or more!) projects at the same time.

Think it's wonderful that you're back to blogging and participating on some of the writer's loops.

KNOW it's much easier said than done, but please try to be a PATIENT patient and cut yourself a bit of slack for a while.

Kevin R. Tipple said...

You have just gone through traumatic major surgery. It is going to take some time, Michael.

Michael Bracken said...

People who know me well have described me as "pessimistic" and "fatalistic," so I'm not certain I would recognize a slip into depression. On the other hand, some of my best stories were written when I was, um, less than happy.

I don't like to wake each morning without knowing what my day might bring. I tend to be a person who lives life best when I have little time to think. I have structured my life/freelance career so that I am always faced with deadlines, and each of those deadlines provides me with the motivation to continue moving forward.

So, I have weekly deadlines, and monthly deadlines, and bi-monthly deadlines, and deadlines tied to specific concerts, and deadlines tied to specific seasons, and a few self-imposed deadlines.

As soon as I can slip back into that groove--and thanks to some great clients, I'm moving in that direction--I'll stop all the naval-gazing and "just do it."

Randy said...

Michael, I'm no expert, but based on anecdotal evidence, mental exhaustion (along with the physical) is completely natural after the surgery you went through. I know it's hard, but you have to be patient. Hey, and best of luck with the novel!