Recently, NPR set off an epiphany in me. A key turned and part of my brain was unlocked. There were so many questions answered. Questions that I didn’t even know I had. There is now a new set of questions to ponder.
“Wait, Wait, Don’t Tell Me” tried to Bluff the Listener. It did not work, not for me. I knew the answer, inherently.
Each week “Wait, Wait” offers up three stories, two false, one true. There is a theme. This week it was me: strange but real side effects of medicine. The anti-seizure medicine that I take (and have taken for a decade) is Lamictal (lamotrigine). It has been shown in real actual case studies to have the side effect of compulsive rhyming and writing poetry. Really? Really.
It is sublime to rhyme.
I am drowning in poetry.
Is it a compulsion for me?
Of course, you see,
It must be.
As I mull this over, I searched out the original study online. I came across the term hypergraphia. Since it was highlighted and unknown to me, I clicked on it. My entire life was revealed. Everything makes sense. Everything.
The term hypergraphia describes a condition seen in people with temporal lobe epilepsy. (Me!) Wikipedia describes it as an intense desire to write. The Latin is simple: hyper = too much, graphy = writing.
Time slowed down a bit as I read this. I read it twice. I read it two or three more times. It is found in people with the same type of epilepsy as me… I cradled my head in my hands. My brain felt heavy. The signs and symptoms of hypergraphia were so clearly describing me. I have an intense desire to write. See? Proof.
Another one of the signs of hypergraphia was writing lists of random things, like favorite songs. I kid you not, I was writing a list the most influential books I have read only the day before. The day before! I was organizing them in chronological order. (The Diary of Anne Frank is #1) Umm, I guess that’s kind of weird? Not everyone does that?
I looked at the pictures of writing samples of hypergraphia. The second one stopped me cold. I write and doodle just like that. I looked at the paper next to me, covered in various writing and doodles. Whenever I am bored or on the phone for a long time, I start to doodle. I almost always have a pen with me. There is a pen in my hair as I write this. (Pens make great hair chopsticks.) Clearly, this was describing me. I have always wanted to be a writer. I feel terrible when I don’t write. I have hypergraphia. I wrote it in my journal several times.
I made a list of all things that applied to me. I do get angry when my writing is interrupted. I keep a diary. I make notes and write haikus about housework and menial things. I hate it when people make inappropriate rhymes (ie. Katy Perry). My friends know me as a bibliophile and a grammar Nazi. I read Roget’s Thesaurus. I write down homonyms for future writing use. I have an intense desire to write.
I told my kids about hypergraphia. My daughters eyes grew wide with belief. I asked my son if it explained a few things. He said, “It explains everything!” I’m not just on-line self-diagnosing. Everybody in my family agrees.
All my temporal lobe energy is just oozing out of me. I must rhyme, I must write. I’m not alone. There is a name for this: hypergraphia = too much writing. Of course, there is no such thing as too much writing. Not in my mind anyway. It explains so much. I have always been this way. And I’m not the only one. I am just like Dostoevsky: an epileptic who wrote too much. I think I’m going to read “The Brother’s Karamazov” and commune with the man who wrote it; a man who was just like me. It could be worse.