Just Plain Nuts

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?


13 thoughts on “Just Plain Nuts

  1. Terry,

    Since you have all those letters and photos and have learned so much about our family history – how about a book about the Sullivan’s? There’s got to be at least 30,000 words about this clan and all the stories you already know. I for one would line up to buy that book!

  2. I usually avoid making “me too!” comments, but I have to break my rule this time. Me too. I would love to read a book about the Sullivans.

    I would pay full price for that book at a real bookstore, not a discount one or online, because you deserve the maximum amount of financial compensation for the wonderful gift you give to all of us who appreciate your words and your heart.

    1. Oh thank you Molly! It is quite a family story – see my comment above to cousin Suzanne (early death, buried babies, false insanity plea, choking to death attempt etc) but your kind heart is what encourages me here!

  3. How about your own web site with lots of advertisements to help in your retirement years. At least it will keep you out of trouble with the therapist. You’ll be so busy, you would forget to go and you could spend the time entertaining us. We are a selfish lot aren’t we!
    We just would die to get our our hands on more of what Molly has very aptly put, as your heart and soul, which we truly think it is a precious gift that you have! Don’t lose track of what life is all about; sharing…I’d buy a few and give them to people who need a shining light in their life to guide them along way…

  4. Ah Frank my kind-hearted champion!
    I actually HAVE a website with a very secure shopping cart. If you weren’t kidding you can buy all five of my self-published books right now (sorry you spoke) That very-expensive-to-me “boutique” is open 24/7 at ready?

    there is also some audio from the pieces I have recorded for Public Radio if you just want to hear another nice crazy Boston accent!

  5. Why are there so many forks in the road of life? What are all the other utensils doing?…lol

    T, you have a gift for writing never give up…something will tip your hand as to where you should go with it at this juncture in your life – some little thing, take my word. “For everyone who’s gone astray, someone will come to show the way”.

  6. if you don’t write an awe-inspiring memoir of the women you were raised with, or the family you’ve been blessed with, you could always write a dark, political saga of the treacherous dealings of the foam industry, blending the nefarious real life charcters until they are unrecognizable to themselves, centering around some kind of industrial espionage, starring our husbands as the protagonists, others to be fleshed out later as story invents itself……LOL

  7. Maybe like at Weight Watchers, you have hit a plateau and need to be patient until the right inspiration hits again. I think you are too hard on yourself. And I like Dan’s take on forks in the road–pretty clever! How about a column dealing with the news that the stimulus plan was handled all wrong and that Pres. Obama’s signing into law a 20-week extension may not happen for those of us losing UI benefits at the end of Dec. I’ve been working on cleaning out my condo to get it ready for sale but if this is true, I may be forced to make a quick sale and lose any possible profit or face foreclosure by the bank. Tain’t fair, Terry. Maybe if you wrote a column about it, people going through all this will write in many responses!

  8. Thanks, Terry. I know you care. Spent an hour with a Shine counselor this morning to pick a better health plan;am now waiting for a hgh school English teacher to come and pick up 5 bags of books – donation for library for her seniors. She is going to be pleased with what I have for her; a psychologist might enjoy some books, too since that is another subject I enjoy and so bought books, books and more books. Also got a message from Senator Joyce’s office saying “it’s all good” and will call later to explain. Tune in tomorrow for the next episode of “As the Stomach Turns.” Hugs, sweet friend. Andrea

  9. Ter, I like Molly’s suggestion that you write a story about the Sullivan clan, up to and including the present generation. An historical novel requiring research into late 19th and early 20th century manners, customs, attitudes etc. It would be replete with your inimitable descriptions of life’s miss-steps, utilizing some of the wonderful similes and metaphors and laugh out load humor of your columns. And your wonderful photos.
    It could be based roughly on your family, but you could fictionalize the plot a bit, no?

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