Everybody's got problems. For some, overcoming these challenges is key to success. For the artists we've featured this past year in Adversity & the Artist, success is largely a product of simple acceptance. As for our publisher - he's just given up, and that has made all the difference...
I write this, small pools of spittle line the sides of my mouth. This is not the
anticipatory spittle one gets awaiting epicurean delight. Nor is it the spittle
of drunkenness. This is the spittle of inexpressible fatigue.
Chronic Fatigue Syndrome is a big misnomer.
It should be called Chronic Effort Syndrome since the afflicted are
forced to spend each day trying with all their effort to do the things of normal
life. If you can imagine wearing a suit of lead on both your body and your
brain, you're halfway there.
Add to this that, unlike with ordinary
exercise where one strengthens with each effort, CFS contrarily deteriorates
one's strength until they are mentally and physically sapped. You become weaker
and foggier, and your body starts welcoming further fatigue by catching every
Short-term memory troubles, difficulty concentrating and depression
combine to reduce one's productivity to nil. As with a lead suit, you eventually
find yourself in the habit of applying inertia - once you get going, keep
moving. If you are walking, keep walking, since a moment of rest threatens to
become months. If you're conversing keep conversing, and so
on. It will catch up with you. Get as much done as you can before then.
I spend my days building up the strength to
spend my strength. Memos stack loosely around me like a game of Go Fish,
awaiting the chance meeting with each day's new task list. If the tasks are
undone, the notes may double again. It's a losing battle in an undeclared war:
it is not known why CFS even exists, if it even is a single
I've heard it all - the causes, the cures,
the snake oil pitches. I've tried dozens of so-called "treatments".
After several years and countless disappointments, I simply gave up on finding a
solution and took on an attitude: I would hastily do the best I could with what
I've got. Hopefully people will understand, I
thought, and for just one day not simply assume I'm a burnt-out junkie.
I fade in and out of focus while I write
this. Pause...re-read...re-re-read...pause...write... Each fragment of a
sentence inundated with pauses to remember where I was. One would diagnose me
with "attention deficit disorder", if they didn't know how incredibly
exhausted I was. Let's go back to that lead suit.
Imagine your eyelids had a lead suit. So did your face, your tongue, your
jaw, your bladder, your ears and your lungs. Every meal an effort you can't avoid,
lest you starve. You'd smile more often - and deeper - but it just becomes too
So you cram all of your doings into one flash of movement each day. You let inertia do most of the work, whether running errands or keeping the conversation rolling. Get anything you can get done before the timer runs out. For several months this flash was about three hours long. Now there is no flash
Depression clings to the shoe of CFS,
following so closely behind that it is easily mistaken as leader or cause. But
as deep as the depression may be, and as great its impact may appear to be, it
is only one symptom of a myriad, and it comes long after the exhaustion has
taken its toll.
It takes rest to fight Chronic Fatigue.
This includes the essentials like proper diet, quiet and a stress-free
non-Microsoft environment. I've always gotten my best rest when camping, since I
simply am too far from my work, I eat well, and the critters keep me
entertained. Fire is good.
I've learned that publishing is not a
restful occupation (...and after all the good things we've heard about it, too).
Lou Grant and J. Jonah Jameson seemed alright by it, though now that I think of
it, the red glow of their faces wasn't cherubic in the least. I know I need
rest, but the Jaywalker needs me even more.
So I write. Word by painstaking word. And I
administer (oh joy!), memo by painstaking memo. And I publish, issue by
painstaking issue. I may wink out by times, and a conversation with me will
include dozens of repeats and circumnavigations, but please bear with me -
something intelligible is bound to come out of my mouth.
Back to March 2004 Jaywalker
Back to March 2004 Jaywalker