by Lillian Csernica on June 7, 2013
The one doctor I truly like to go see is the eye doctor. So far, in my life, the eye doctor is the only doctor whose care has not involved some kind of physical pain. I’m not counting headaches from eye strain or outdated prescriptions on my glasses. Eye doctors have such cool diagnostic equipment. There’s the test like a videogame where the lights flash and you hit the button. That checks your peripheral vision. Seeing a color reproduction of my retina freaked me out the first time, but after the initial shock it was fascinating. I’m not all that fond of the glaucoma test where they hit you with a little blast of air straight at your naked eye. Unfortunately, I’m at high risk for glaucoma so this test is just part of the package for me.
The eye exam is always entertaining. It would help, I think, if I wasn’t able to memorize the whole eye chart on the first or second go. From that point on it’s hard to tell if I can really see the letter or if I simply know what it is from seeing it when I could see the whole chart clearly. When the eye doctor is looking to update the exact numbers on my vision, we play the “Better or Worse?” game where the doctor gives me two choices of lenses and I give the appropriate reply. On and on it goes while the eye doctor gets a really precise calibration or whatever it is of the prescription appropriate for my glasses. (I wore contact lenses a long time ago when you had to take them out every night and then once a week soak them in the solution that removed the protein deposits. These days contacts are almost maintenance-free, but you just can’t get trifocal contact lenses.)
So why am I talking about eye exams and how much I enjoy my trips to the eye doctor?
I’ve come to the conclusion that I prefer physical pain to emotional pain. Why? Because physical pain is so much easier to treat.
Last night was a bad night. My depression paid me a visit and kept me up all night watching bad horror movies while I tried to drain the emotional abscess of the moment into my personal journal. You might think staying up all night was a stupid thing to do, since sleep deprivation isn’t going to help matters. That’s a valid point. What you don’t know is my lifelong tendency toward nightmares. Sure, I could take the insomnia meds and hide under the sheets and try not to cry myself to sleep. What then? My subconscious isn’t just going to change channels and start watching the emotional equivalent of “Sesame Street.” I’m going to have anxiety dreams, anniversary dreams, and a high possibility of nightmares. So I’d rather stay up all night watching make-believe nightmares with tacky special effects and cheap monster makeup and really awful writing because I can safely laugh them off.
When I read about writers who drank themselves to death or who were addicted to opium, laudanum, cocaine, heroine, etc. I feel a deep sympathy. There’s no hell like being trapped inside your own head. There’s no pain like realizing the person you really want to break up with is yourself. And so we write. We write for distraction, for validation, for exploration, for revenge. We write because it’s the only way we can make it stop hurting, and sometimes all we do is make it hurt even worse. We can’t just stop writing, because then the emotional poison has no outlet and the works get backed up and sooner or later our heads explode. Cranial shrapnel can be lethal to bystanders, innocent or otherwise.
I’m going to go work on my novel now. The Number Two Bad Guy is about to show up, and the next two or three chapters involve my heroine getting some serious payback on him. Now that’s what I call therapeutic.