I feel lower than a bow-legged caterpillar. Lower than a snake’s belly in a wagon rut. Lower than an ankle bracelet on a flat-footed pygmy. Just down right low. I’ve done the unimaginable; the inexcusable. My entire collectibles collection―the Civil War relics, antique bottles, Native American artifacts, coins and currency, and WW2 pieces―has been boxed away in the dark, inescapable confines of plastic storage containers and cardboard boxes.
I’m moving. And I hate it.
It’s been an emotional few weeks for this collector of all things old, odd, and interesting. Social isolation, lack of enjoyment, restlessness, irritability, difficulty falling asleep, muscle tension, headaches, and nausea―all symptoms of the debilitating condition known as Collector’s Hypoactive Delirium.
Science behind Collector’s Hypoactive Delirium
Science tells us that the absence of collectibles in a collector’s life acts as a brain depressant, as it suppresses your brain’s production of neurotransmitters like noradrenaline. On the flipside, when collectibles are reintroduced into your life, they act as stimulants, helping your brain produce surges of adrenaline. And it’s that adrenaline that creates the euphoria and happiness that collectors need to survive.
As my struggles grew worse, and my coping abilities began to wane, I reached out to a cadre of collectors for help. I was told that Collector’s Hypoactive Delirium was a condition one virtually never recovers from, absent of collectibles being reintroduced into a collector’s life.
While I certainly valued their feedback, I refused to believe that this was something that I simply had to live with. After all, it will be weeks, if not months, until my collectibles see the light of day again.
During a conversation with veteran relic and antique collector, Elrod Merle Gomer, he shared some sage advice that got me thinking. He said, “Son, you look like you’ve been through three wars and a goat roping. If you feel pecked by a 100 chickens now, it’ll only get worse the more you’re laid up.”
For those of you not blessed with the ability to speak, read, or understand ‘Gomerisms’, let me translate on behalf of Elrod: “Son, you look terrible. If you feel bad now, it will only get worse the more you lay around doing nothing.”
Don’t let his name or ‘sayings’ fool you, Elrod Merle Gomer is a bona fide scholar and quite possibly one of the greatest philosophers of our time.
Living with Collector’s Hypoactive Delirium
Following Elrod’s advice, I developed a few strategies that have helped me (thus far) get through a very difficult time in my life:
Go for the small wins, as they will help you feel more in charge of your life again. It’s the same advice given by Dr. Leo Marvin (played by Richard Dreyfuss) to his obsessive-compulsive neurotic patient Bob Wiley (played by Bill Murray) in the dark comedy, “What About Bob?”
Reading relic/antique/hobby magazines are a great place to start. Take note of how much better it makes you feel. Then do it again.
“Baby Steps read American Digger Magazine… Baby Steps read American Digger Magazine… Ah, I’m reading American Digger Magazine. AHHHHHHHHHH.
I consider myself a high energy, productive person; so struggling through the symptoms of Collector’s Hypoactive Delirium has been frustrating and discouraging at times. And frustration zaps your energy.
It’s important to assess how much energy you have on any given day and not to exert more fuel than you have in the tank. And the energy you do have, use it to do things that count; like visiting a local antique shop, collectible store, or museum, watching Antiques Roadshow, or reading hobby magazines. The other things in life, such as family, friends, work, hygiene, and exercise will just have to wait, as they consume too much valuable energy.
No matter how small or insignificant a positive action may feel, just remember that it’s a deposit toward healing and recovery.
Grinnin’ Like a Mule
Taking baby steps and directing the little energy I have toward the activities that count most, I’ve managed to get by (for now), while holding out hope that I’ll be able to make it to the day “My Precious” is proudly displayed again.
And as Elrod Merle Gomer would say, when that day comes, “I’ll be grinnin’ like a mule eatin’ briars trough a barbwire fence.”