A year ago a really smart shrink brought me back from the brink of what was revving up to be one of the worst seasons of my life with a diagnosis of Generalized Anxiety Disorder and a prescription for Lexapro. Tiny bit of talk therapy, but Dr. H is not a cheap date and he doesn’t take my insurance. And besides I’ve become a talk-therapy skeptic, at least for me. I’ve done it on and off for ten years, but these meds are like a miracle. This has been a terrific year.
Still, last summer I was applying to graduate school and oh my goodness, my anxiety flared up again — for lots of reasons that are not all that interesting, though I’m sure many other writers can relate (Who are you kidding? You’re just a housewife playing around at being a writer. You’re not even published! You can’t really write; any good feedback you’ve ever gotten was just a fluke, and now the truth will come out…. etc. etc.).
But I revised the story anyway (with insightful suggestions from a brilliant teacher, writer and good friend, who will no doubt talk me down from the ledge many more times in my career), and wrote the application essays, and sent the packages off to the top three low-residency* MFA programs. And then I figured, OK, in a couple of months I will hear, and I steeled myself for the inevitable rejections.
And because I’m a glutton for punishment, I also decided to send my application story, “Trespasses,” to five literary magazines – my first real effort at getting published. The inevitability of these rejections seemed even clearer, but it seemed time to put myself out there.
I also increased my dose of Lexapro, with Dr. H’s blessing, and doubled my visits to the gym.
And in the space of a month, my anxiety went away again, I was accepted at all three of the MFA programs, and my story was accepted for publication at The Colorado Review. Obviously, I am stunned, and shocked, and also floating on air. In January, I begin my first residency at the MFA Program for Writers at Warren Wilson College, and in the meantime I am feeling calm, and content, enjoying the autumn, and feeling incredibly grateful.
I have a good life.