Antidepressed: How Drugs Changed My Thoughts

Flickr / Alice Popkorn
Flickr / Alice Popkorn

Depression is a relationship. That’s why there are two voices here: my voice and the voice of my depression.

Zoloft:

Life is so real. Senses are good. Why don’t I ever notice? Ears are strange. I can wash them if I get in the shower. I can pretend my finger is a car on a winding mountain road. Hot water on my skin makes it smooth. The taste of steam.

What if my boyfriend is unhappy? He’s been pretty high-strung lately. It’s my fault. I’m not doing right by my family, either. I should take my brother out to lunch, or else when he’s older he’ll hate me, and I’ll regret it. And my friends – how long has it been since I’ve seen Erica? She’s pissed.

Geez. I’m doing fine. If I weren’t, these people would tell me.

But what if –

I’m not going to finish that thought. How about a swim? Holy shit, I have the energy to exercise. That’s really cool. Zoloft is a good drug.

Gimme that Z-o-l-o-f-t… Gimme a grip, make me love me…

Ween really hit it with that song.

I’m worthless.

No, I’m not.

Three weeks later:

The sounds of humans. 47,000 in this square mile, a million and a half on the island. I couldn’t count them all if I tried.

But even that would be a better use of my lifetime than the air-wasting trivialities I’m making it into now. So many other people I’m too self-absorbed to care about. Might as well not even be here. Cave, that was quiet. That was silence. The crunch of my eyelashes blinking. Crunch against the silence. I want to be dead. I want to be dead. I want to be dead. I don’t want to die, but I want to be dead. God, make it stop!

Cymbalta:

I think today is going to go well.

Is that optimism? Weird. Seems like the Cymbalta’s working.

A bullet to a skull – does it fracture into a million pieces? There was some TV show about gunshot wounds. They’re messy. But what about THIS GUY’S skull? God, I want a gun.

Whoa there, that isn’t normal, even for me.

Lexapro:

Sleep sleep sleep sleep. I wonder what it would be like to sleep on my desk. On my toilet? Ugh. Nine straight hours last night, still exhausted. I’ll have more energy tomorrow. I promise. If I don’t, I’ll fake it.

Gabapentin:

This can’t be a chemical imbalance. There must be something I’m not doing. Why can’t I just control myself like everyone else? I’m arrogant and my problems are stupid.

This is silly. I’m just tired and grumpy.

Isolated – I have so many friends. I feel like the refuse of society – I live in the richest metropolis in the richest country on Earth. All of these can’t be real at once.

My heart is going to explode, or maybe drop. Pulpous pile of heart somewhere in my left heel.

I love him.

I’m bad at it. Too afraid of intimacy – don’t really even know what I’m supposed to do. Easier to fast-forward to the sex.

Gabapentin + Wellbutrin:

I used to think my depression was what made me special. So many great minds were depressed. “I’m like them,” I thought. “My downswings are just the price for the immense focus and creativity I’m capable of. My best ideas all come during depressive phases. My emotional depth, my capacity for introspection – I have my depression to thank for that.”

This is how my depression, like a cruel lover, convinced me that if I left, I would have nowhere else to go.

The surest way to make someone helpless is to convince her that she is in control. That is what my depression did to me. I believed I was choosing to remain who I was; actually, I was letting an imposter speak for me while I suffocated.

Treatment is hard because you don’t know who you are without depression. When Zoloft allowed me to bat away anxious thoughts and irrational guilt, I thought that was as good as it could get. No one could have told me that “capable of not being sad” isn’t “happy” – that happy people can not only discard sad thoughts, but they have an entire arsenal of satisfying, ambitious, curious, relaxed, and loving thoughts. Depression will do anything to prevent you from knowing that you have that arsenal, too. It’s just self-preservation.

Depression thinks love is about worrying for another person’s safety and comfort.

Love is about time. It’s about time stopping. And it’s about wanting to see someone else’s future. TC mark

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