It’s a common phrase, and you may have heard it.
That which nourishes me, destroys me.
And oh, how accurate it is. There are many ways to interpret the phrase, and I don’t think any single way is right or wrong. Part of the joy of language is that you can garner an array of meaning from the most random of words based entirely on your life experience and thought process. This single phrase has haunted me since I was sixteen years old, when I read that Angelina Jolie had it tattooed on her lower abdomen in Latin (quod me nutrit me destruit). I was too young to really understand what it meant back then, but now I know. For me, for the way every potential meaning applies to my life, I know. I won’t bore you with every single connection, but these top three I think sum it up pretty accurately.
I’m an author.
Or, well, sort of. I’ve written and published a children’s book, which makes me an author. But ask me how I’m doing on my novel, and my connection to the word vanishes. As far as my epic fantasy series is concerned, I’m a struggling woman who dreams of writing one day.
And here’s where the phrase comes in: writing nourishes me. I live to write and write to live. I love my stories, the characters in my head, the wondrous worlds begging to be set free on the page. Before I began writing, I had an emptiness inside me that no amount of hobbies could fill. But I get so paranoid that I’m going to do it wrong. I’ve got such high hopes for my work that just trying to write a single scene tears me apart. What’s worse, I’m an editor. I tell people every day that no matter how you wrote it the first time, you can always go back and change it up. You can add, subtract, move around, revise, reword, redo. The first draft is not the be-all and end-all of the story. But try telling that to my inner critic. It’s the reason I haven’t got a single word down toward this series. The reason I haven’t even sat down to plot it out. I’m worried I’ll do it wrong. And that fear is tearing me apart.
And there’s no “sort of” to it. I have to take Wellbutrin every morning to make sure my brain chemistry keeps steady. Those meds are the reason I don’t break down laughing and crying simultaneously (which is hands-down the most confusing feeling in the entire world) and the reason I am able to accurately determine exactly what emotion I am feeling at any given time and know exactly why I am feeling it. I see a huge difference in who I was before and after therapy and medication, and I never want to go back.
And here’s where the phrase comes in: Wellbutrin, for all intents and purposes, nourishes me. It is what keeps me feeling sane and keeps the edge off. My emotions stay within normal ranges and my reactions stay within reason. I never thought it would also destroy me. But since November, I’ve been falling apart. I haven’t talked about it much and am only just recently beginning to mention it. I have developed a facial twitch. It started below my eye and was visible to others. Then it gradually spread down my face, until it became a muscle contraction that pulls at my mouth and makes me look like I’m smirking. Thankfully it doesn’t do it’s quick-and-constant twitch anymore (at least not visibly; I can’t quite explain the way it feels) but this unintentional smirk is driving me insane. When I spoke to the neurologist, she said she’s pretty sure it’s Hemifacial Spasm, and although no one seems entirely sure why it develops, Wellbutrin tends to lower the seizure threshold.
I know, I said the same thing. “Wait, what?” Yeah, apparently, the very medication that nourishes my mental health is destroying my physical health. My seizure threshold is lowered and surprise, facial tremors. I can’t—and won’t—stop taking the Wellbutrin. What’s done is done; it’s not reversible. There are treatment options, which I will follow up with as soon as I can, but seriously. Eight in a hundred thousand people get this condition. Do any of you have it, too? Anyone? Bueller?
I am an introvert.
It still sounds strange when I say it. I used to be so outgoing and friendly. I’m still friendly, I promise, but I’ve become so secluded that my personality has adjusted to accommodate it. But just because I prefer the comfort of my own home and the safety of my laptop doesn’t mean I don’t enjoy company. I actually crave social interaction and feel more fulfilled after spending a day with other humans.
And here’s where the phrase comes in: I need social interaction just as much as any Sim. (You know, the video game where you play a simulated human and get to play out the life you wish you had. Or maybe you just enjoy playing God to digital humans and get a kick of watching them burn down their kitchen. Not that I’m speaking from experience…but I digress.) Engaging in just about any conversation or activity with another person (preferably an adult) just makes me happy. It fills my social meter and I can function properly. It’s a good idea for a writer to be around people anyway to help with writing believable dialogue, realistic personality traits, and accurate reactions and emotional behavior. But my goodness! The mere thought of coming face to face with someone gets my heart racing and my hands shaking, and my facial twitch goes insane. It’s stressful. A thousand questions and worries run through my mind simultaneously:
What do I say, what do I do?
How do I respond when I didn’t hear something they said?
Do I laugh at their jokes even when they weren’t funny?
I think I need to sit down. It’s all so overwhelming.
Too many people too close together—are they all staring at me?
They don’t want me around, do they?
I don’t think they like me. I think I’m too weird for them.
I’m not changing for anyone. I’d rather just go sit alone.
Crap. Now that I’m alone they think I’m antisocial! Now I really am being too weird!
So there’s that. It’s all one big ball of anxiety, a lasting panic attack that doesn’t stop until the door closes and I can breathe again. Mental destruction at its finest.
This phrase has become as much a part of me as the very things it encompasses. And, of course, I prefer it in Italian because it’s my ancestral language. No wonder I’m so skeptical of any good things that come my way—I can’t help but wonder how they too will destroy me.
What phrases or quotes do you connect with? Do they have deep meaning to you?