I don’t know why I’m writing this. Actually, I do. It’s 1:50 p.m. on a Tuesday afternoon and I’m trying to keep myself from going to sleep.
I’m so tired.
Over the last year and a half I have been trying to wean myself off my depression medication. After more than six years on it, I suddenly started feeling like I didn’t want to be hitched to that wagon for the rest of my life. (I also started having strange heart palpitations which I was sure was due to the meds.) I wanted to “feel” feelings and remember what the highs and lows of emotions were like again. I wanted to be more “present” while raising my son. I imagined myself as a success story: “Area Woman Learns to Live Happily, Naturally.” Many starts, stops and crazy brain zaps later, I did it. I’ve been off medication over four months. And I hate my un-medicated self.
Medicated Me wasn’t perfect, but most days she felt like she was keeping her shit together. She didn’t snap at her son or throw shade at her husband. She didn’t have mood swings in the space of six seconds. She took naps, but didn’t sleep away entire afternoons and evenings. She didn’t fear work, chores, or plans. She may have had situation-specific reservations, but not fear. Medicated Me didn’t always choose the best foods to eat, but she ate. She had the energy to cook. She had energy in general. And not boundless energy, but enough to hammer through whatever needed to be done on any particular day, with a decent and optimistic attitude to boot.
Un-Medicated Me is exhausted. She is heavy, uneasy, and constantly ill. Every cell in her body feels like its revolting. It’s sometimes hard for her to imagine just standing up. She has problems making the simplest decisions: Should I make a grocery list or not? Should I comb my hair or not? Never mind the answer, the questions themselves hang like a wet robe on her back. She prefers not to talk unless she has to and when she does, her words have an uncharacteristic and unflattering bite. Un-Medicated Me has a difficult time leaving the house, fulfilling promises, and completing basic chores. She is full of guilt and pain. She’s ugly, unkempt, and dangerous.
I am so tired of her.
Where not long ago stood a calm, mostly happy, functioning individual now lays a disheveled stranger with a gaping hole in her chest. Through it spills the blood of those I have or will disappoint if I don’t do something about Un-Medicated Me. I have to stop the bleeding.
Before I ever took an antidepressant, I was one of those people who thought depression was just “all in your head” and that if people “really wanted” to get over it, they would if only they weren’t so lazy. (I wish I could smack that girl upside the head now.) Going on medication saved me from about 27 bad decisions I was fixing to make at the time, and saved further damage to people I loved. I never hurt myself, but I routinely thought about throwing myself down a flight of stairs or driving my car into a ditch or a telephone pole just enough. It was a really terrible, messed up time of my life. Medication rescued me from those dangerous thoughts. I remember the clarity and reason and calmness coming back to me in the weeks that followed and being so happy about it that I resolved to never, ever let myself go back to that ugly place.
No, I am definitely not going back to that place. I can see what has been happening to me the past four months, how I have deteriorated. I’m aware of how the cycle starts. I know how quickly it can escalate. I remember how bad it got before I used the tools available to me to get better. Nope, this time I won’t drag my feet because I have been there, done that. It’s back to medication for me and there will be no guilt about it. I got a chance to feel the highs and lows again – it ain’t for me. Feeling feelings is a heavy burden sometimes – it ain’t for me. And given my current status, it’s hard to argue that I’ve been real “present” for my son. This wagon I gotta hitch myself back onto? It’s bound for Happiness. I’ll go back there any day.