Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Laying it On The Line

I am back on anti-depressants.

Some of you may not know that I was ever on them in the first place. Well, not in the first place. The first place was an apartment on Dale Avenue, and we moved out when I was three months old.

No no, I went on anti-depressants when I was nineteen and in danger of flunking out of college (which, eventually, did happen), and at the time I was willing to try them. It worked a bit. It helped. But after a while, I didn't like how I felt. My range of emotion was diminished. In the depths (but I don't want it to sound like they were very deep depths, because my depression was classified as "subclinical"), I was churning out between two and eight pages of writing a day. And looking back on some of it, it was emotionally raw and laced with irony and pessimism. Anger, too. Baffled confusion at a world gone mad, and me without a place in it. The medication killed the feelings. And the pages.

This time, I have not been very prolific in my pages leading up to this moment, this opening of the container and washing down the first pill moment. I've just been stressed and unhappy, but erratically so. Manic, they used to call it. Bipolar some people would say. No. Not that far. I went to the same doctor. He didn't remember me, and I remember his accent being not quite as thick. He classified me again as "Subclinical" which is a term for depression that is borderline, easily manageable but often more disruptive than full blown depression. I think last time he hit, this time he may have missed. Maybe he hit, just less solidly.

Why would I tell everybody something so personal?

A year ago last week, a good man died. He once said "There's no freedom unless you're vulnerable first." This is me being vulnerable. Being free. I just took my third pill (no no, no...I didn't just take three in a row, I got them on Monday), washed it down with the last of the Tropicana OJ, the healthy heart with Omega 3 (so I don't have to take fish oil pills), and sat down to compose this post. My cat is drinking water from his bowl, and it's time to feed him for the evening, take the trash out, and settle into bed for a little Silverblatt Chapters 10-11, Media Literacy worksheet, cuddling, and eventually, sleep. The most sought-after side-effect that I remember having from taking these the first time was that I could sleep at night. I'm looking forward to that. That's about it though.

I keep my antidepressants together; in fact, the first pill I took on Monday got washed down with my other antidepressant. I keep the pills behind the canister my coffee beans are in. I find it hilarious, the juxtaposition of these two things, but yet the power. My coffee is whole bean, organic, fair-trade. Grind it up, brew it, drink it. My pills are processed to the hilt. Developed and manufactured in a lab. Do not crush. Take whole. Yes, I started drinking coffee. A habit I am comfortable picking up. I tried smoking again. Go ahead, Mom. Call me out on it. I already called myself out. Stupid thing to do. Won't happen again. Coffee I can handle. Cigarettes belong in a fantasy version of me, the one that gets to stand in Humphrey Bogart's trench coat and punch Peter Lorre in the face with his own gun. Coffee I can handle. I have a flask. I've never used it. I don't plan on it. Cigarettes give you a light-headed buzz because they deprive you of oxygen. Alcohol impairs your ability to drive, rationalize, think, and is also a depressant. Seems like a bad idea to supplement antidepressants with booze. The drowsy eye alcohol warning should not be misconstrued as a winking eye alcohol suggestion (anyone? anyone? reference?). But makes you jittery and gives you energy. It elevates the heart rate in an overabundant quantity, which I have not done since the day I found out the coffee stand in the St. Paul student center accepted flex dine (I drank FIVE chai tea lattes that day. the big ones). It is a vice that is acceptable. And, like the alcohol I restrict myself to (mostly), I have standards. That is why my coffee is organic, fair trade, whole bean. It meant I had to buy a grinder. It means I will eventually want to buy a new coffee maker. But it's there. And I use it.

To close, I will give you the lyrics to a favorite song of mine.

My antidepressant
Hope-giving Holy Mud.
If I only, if I
Only drink enough!
I can see clear my escape,
I can see into another
Into another state.

From Coffee Girl by MK Ultra (you should totally check them out, along with John Vanderslice)


marty/bridget said...

glad you're back to writing. sorry to have given you trouble about me auntie depressant! b.

marty/bridget said...

oh, by the's the play coming along? do we get a sneek preview? b.

McGrath said...


I'm really blown away by your honesty. I love it! It takes a great deal of courage to be that vulnerable when you don't always know how people will react. It took me a long time to be okay with talking about things that are not always fluffy and yellow and wonderful. In fact, I find myself a little bored by the sameness of life's expectations. Your kindred spirit and auntie-in-law.

Lisa said...

I don't know what to say exactly...I mean it IS personal, so what to say... I really appreciated your honesty. This is probably one of your best writings that I've read just because it's so honest (not that your other ones weren't) but this just strikes a different chord of the heart I guess. Love you.

Annie said...

I hope they can help you, Elliot. I don't understand depression, no matter how hard I try.

Also, I want to know how the play is coming along, too!

Christopher G said...

The fantasy version of me smokes cigarettes, too, but instead of Humphery Bogart, I picture myself as John Travolta in Broken Arrow.