NaBloPoMo: Kryptonite

Wednesday, January 16, 2013
If you were a superhero, what would be your kryptonite, draining your energy?

Kryptonite is a fictional material from the Superman mythos — the ore form of a radioactive element from Superman’s home planet of Krypton. It is famous for being the ultimate natural weakness of Superman and most other Kryptonians, and the word Kryptonitehas since become synonymous with an Achilles’ heel —the one weakness of an otherwise invulnerable hero.[1]  kryptonite

When in doubt, go to Wikipedia right? So …heroes tend not to be so invulnerable these days. So perhaps kryptonite – metaphorically – has helped society adust our expectations of what a superhero is or who a superhero is or how all a superhero can fall?

I can’t really think of anything interesting to write about this topic. My kryptonite is pretty mundane – myself, my self-doubt, my anxieties, etc. Learning how to live without waiting for the other shoe to drop – I spent a lot of years thinking that the “other shoe” was the problem, not realizing how much I missed gazing into the sky looking anticipating that radioactive element.

From a more practical point of view, my kryptonite is being smart. Smart kept me alive in junior high and high school. I bartered homework help and cheating on tests to avoid being bullied or at least reduce it. Smart kept me on my toes, resourceful and always a half step away from disaster. I pulled it off. Until I didn’t. Then I pulled something else off. Being smart was a blessing and a curse because – like many adults with mental illness – I could outwit a lot of people. From being a survivor.

But I also knew it was more than simply being intelligent – it was a survival instinct that taught me to be crafty. And I shied away from the obnoxious snobs – I had a friend who used to brag about how we read Aristotle in high school. No, we did not. We read Harlequin junior romances. I’m not sure I even heard of Aristotle until college. And even then – confusing! But that’s another thread.

When I was 28 or so, my doctor put me on a new mood medication. I took it for a year and felt less smart. It was very subtle – per my friends whom I confided in at the time – moments like missing a word or not quite picking up on the irony or taking a few more reads to understand a graduate school assignment. It was frightening because, irrational or not, I thought I was losing the most important thing about me, the thing that made me worthwhile, that helped me have value. I panicked and begged my doctor to switch my meds. He did, I regained my wits (and the ability to taste Coca-cola) and all was right in the world.

When I was 41, I had a serious episode and experienced a lot of cognitive impairment for months. I had trouble concentrating, remembering words, absorbing information. I stopped reading because it was … hard. I stopped reading magazines and the daily paper. I stopped blogging. And I eventually began to heal.

Now I bang my head and I’m back to square one in terms of the cognitive stuff. Sigh.

It has never been about wanting to be the smartest person in the room – it has been about needing to be smart enough to be valued. I’m sure I’ve had my obnoxious moments <eye roll> and I once had a performance evaluation that said I used too many big words for the workplace. Another boss told me the semicolons had no place in a business letter.

I am very drawn to smart people. Like my Ledcat who is brilliant. And my Dad who is also brilliant in his own way. I struggle though to realize that people value me for more than the fact that I have this blessing – I worry that if i become “dumb” then all of my value goes out the window. It doesn’t matter if I’m funny, devoted, patient or good. When I sat in my therapist’s office tonight and struggled to remember the word “Herculean” (how’s that for irony?), I started to panic – what’s wrong with me? will she report me? am I becoming stupid? am I insane? am I demented? will people still like me? will they ask me to have coffee? for advice? read my blog? Then I remembered the word and laughed because who uses Herculean during a therapy session?

Really? This is my kryptonite – I’m afraid people won’t think I have value, a thought that is in direct opposition to my belief that all people have value. Except me. Sigh.

So. I started to read the rest of the Wikipedia entry about kryptonite but my eyes glazed over. Onward and upward to the next NaBloPoMo.

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