She’s great for even more reasons, this primary care doc I talked about the other day. During my annual check-up last week I told her I thought I was losing it a couple of months ago. A guy I met at the plant store told me he had ADHD and by golly he suffered my same symptoms. He didn’t find out ’til he was almost 50 he said but now with the right meds he feels focused with a wonderful time-release calmness.
I sure wasn’t calm anymore, OR focused. I who since the age of 15 have eaten an early breakfast and taken my time making a beautiful daily list and writing cryptic amusing entries in my diary. Suddenly I couldn’t sit to those tasks, and often didn’t have a bite of breakfast until 11 in the morning, which may be normal for most people but sure isn’t normal for me. I read a checklist that helps you see if you have attention deficit/ hyperactivity: “Do you veer into people?” was one question. “Do you leave cabinet doors open?” I asked David if I did either of these things and he gave me deadpan look, gestured at our own yawning cabinets in mock horror and said,“ AND, you’ve been veering into me for 40 years.”
So I got the referral for the Psychiatric department at Mass. General and went to see someone who after 40 minutes ruled out ADHD and said, right to my face, “I think you’re depressed.”
“WHY would I be depressed?”
“Because your kids are gone.”
“They’ve been gone since 2002! “
“Still.” she said and gave me a second appointment which I ended up having to cancel. And now in the closing minutes of my annual checkup with my awesome Primary Care Doc it occurred to me to mention all this. After listening carefully she put down her pen and said something I wasn’t expecting to hear: “I think you ARE depressed.”
Again! “Why do YOU say that?”
“You just told me that you’ve lost twelve newspapers that used to subscribe to your column and that many of the rest can’t pay you.”
“Well that’s true.”
“And you’re not sad about that?”
There was a shocked pause on my part. Then, “I’m really sad about, that though I never talk about it with anyone! I feel terrible. All these years I’ve never made a profit and now I feel like I’m ….disappearing! I feel like all my life I was trying to give the world a gift that it just didn’t want!”
“Listen to me,” she said, sitting forward in her chair. “I know you. You’re really smart and you have tons of energy. You could have been a judge. You could have been a CEO. Instead, you became a writer – an artist – and artists…. struggle.
Another long pause from normally-glib me. Then, “I’m not sure but I think you’ve just saved me a year of therapy.”
“Write a book that isn’t a reworking of columns and sell it to a real publishing house!” she said, walking me to the door. “Forget doing another one yourself.”
“I’ve thought of that but how does anyone write 20,000 or 30,000 words? I’m just writing 600 a week and it’s practically killing me!” But going down in the elevator of the Wang Building I got to thinking. ‘Could’ve been a judge,’ she’s said. ‘Could’ve been a CEO.’ I was never all that smart but I do have a lot of energy, even now. Maybe I should just begin, and see how many 600s it takes to reach 30,000.
So my next question is to you, you dark-of-the-night, early-morning friend, if you are out there at all: what do YOU think a book by me should be about?