Withdrawal

The pills helped for awhile. Then they started increasing my anxiety. Then the brain fog came back. When I stopped being able to focus enough to read or write, I knew it was time to either increase the dosage or wean myself from the pills.

I decided on the latter. I was only taking 20mgs, so I did 15mgs a day for 4 weeks or so. Then 10 for 3 weeks, then 5 for 2, then none. Each time I decreased the dose, I spent 3-4 days experiencing dizziness, “brain zaps”, (my Doctor’s name for the aforementioned Tesla coil in my head) and general malaise. I felt it was worth it if I could get off the drug slowly enough to avoid an extended period of brain zaps. But at the end, there were still another several weeks of miserable symptoms.

But, I’m writing now. My hands have forgotten how to type fast enough to keep up with my brain, which is frustrating, but I’m writing! I’m reading too, which leads to writing!

At around week 5-6 of the withdrawal process, I noticed the old feelings of pressure behind my eyes, as if there were something to cry about, but I didn’t know what it was. But I had learned while on the pills that it was only a sensation, an emotion, one that I could welcome back with gratitude and allow to pass. I also started to experience that dread at the thought of going out, or of “having to do” anything. What I had learned about that was that it’s okay to want to stay home, to feel safe and secure. If I didn’t let it be okay, it would turn into a morass of anxiety that would paralyze me. I could decide the next day whether to go out or not. My friends would accept my boundaries. I could say no. I could accept all the sensations in my body, and even all the thoughts in my brain, and allow them to make me cry, make me postpone, make me feel pain. I could experience them without judgement and then let them go.

Of course this is only my own journey. I don’t have an opinion about whether or not other people should take medication for their depression/anxiety. If it helps, go for it. If something else helps more, do that. As for me, the meds helped until they stopped helping, and left me with some idea of how to cope without them.

I had not had a good cry since I’d started the pills, so I welcomed the tears and the sobbing. I felt more alive that way, as long as I didn’t think of any of it as permanent. It was actually a gift. It was authentically me, and it got me writing again with all the flavor that goes into being me.

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Pills With My Coffee

After six months of feeling giddy all the time, needing a nap right after breakfast, and my brain doing an impression of a Tesla coil every few minutes, the pills are starting to work. That is, they’re contributing something to my life besides side effects. I can tell because I’m in love with my cats again. I adore them in fact. I’m still pissed off about every minute of my life, and at myself for having lived it, but at least I’m keeping the cat box clean. Sometimes I even leave the house, and I’m taking showers more frequently.

Still, if too many obligations pile up, obligations to perform a thing, no matter what it is, a thing I cannot find a way to get out of or postpone, then I start wigging out completely. Then it’s not just naps anymore; it’s being paralyzed in bed for the duration, trying to ignore the fact that I have a body; curling up in fetal position among soft surfaces and staying as still as I can, until I get hungry – the one thing that will motivate me to move this hated meat puppet that I drag around.

As you can imagine, this has played havoc with my work life, and forget getting through four years of school. So, I’m broke all the time and I spend too much time imagining what my life would be like with money. The money would have to fall from the sky, though, because jobs tend to require a commitment to performing those aforementioned Things.

I’ve always thought someone should take care of me, and so far no one has, not even during my childhood. That’s probably at the core of my depression, at least as far as a shrink could get, but who can afford a shrink? And even if I could afford one, I’d still have this wonky brain chemistry that instructs my other systems to respond to stimuli that are not there. I cry for no reason, laugh because I’m hungry, and fall in passionate, horny, soaking wet love with a strange man half my age whose picture I saw on the internet, I eat voraciously when I’m not a bit hungry, and then cower in terror because I’ve promised to do. a. Thing.

So, this is what I have to work with; this is the raw material with which I’m supposed to carve out a life that doesn’t piss me off. Depression, I’m told, is mostly self-directed anger, so it looks like I was born angry. But I was also born creative. I hear love in colors that form musical phrases; my body is a drum; the inside of my eyelids is an abstract painting of the hand of a deity blessing itself. Most importantly, or at least more usefully, I can change the courseĀ  of my reaction to stimuli sometimes and redirect the energy to an easier flow.

For instance, I know that if I can find a way to deliberately interrupt my anger with gratitude, I can create some moments that do not suck. I also know how to notice my thoughts and choose different ones.This stuff works for me sometimes. Then I become an artist who creates my own reality using fluid light, and the outcome is feeling happy for whole minutes at a time. I want to teach other depressives how to do that. I want to get paid to teach/share those simple skills that can help a depressive’s day work out a bit better.

That’s what I’m creating now. Let’s see what happens next.