WARNING: excessively melodramatic post, but I’m fine 🙂
It’s 7:30 AM here on the East Coast, and the birds are singing like our forests are on fire. It’s that time of year when if you’re good at waking up early (I’m not … shoutout to Wendy!) you get to see the sun rise. My new apartment faces East and I can see the sunlight gradually sweeping over the windows of the people across the street, behind the trees. The trees are orange and red. The people are nowhere to be seen. Everything human is quiet. It’s bird time.
I fed my cat, whose favorite activity is to torture humans by meowing like she has been starving for months and it’s all your fault. She’ll eat, then ten seconds later start begging for more. Entering the kitchen has become a dance of willpower: who will be the first to give in? The vet said: be firm, and ignore. Just ignore. Ignore the urge to repair, to take away suffering. A wonderful exercise in wrathful compassion. Just say no. How did we humans end up in control of such things when we lack internal control ourselves? Giving in to all forms of urgent pleading -internal or external, human or animal-, is not always the right thing to do. So I ignore, and sing her little made up songs in which I am really also singing to my internal cat. I sing like I would to a young child, to feed the nonbiological starvation with sound, and distract myself from the guilt of saying “no”. To delay, in the name of the long term and its primacy over immediate satisfaction. To know and do the right thing, and stick with it. Just ignore.
Yesterday something strange happened. On an impulse, I booked an appointment at my university Health Center to inquire about smoking cessation resources. I walked into the MD’s consultation room and said I wanted to know about Chantix: my meditation group instructor recommended it, as it worked for her. The MD said no: she doesn’t know anything about Chantix and has never prescribed it, and is uncomfortable doing so, especially as she doesn’t know my psych history. I said I tried patches and losanges and it hadn’t done it for me. So she went to plan B.
And here I am, sitting with a bottle of Wellbutrin on my table. One every day for three days, then two a day, for three months. I have’t done it yet. Instead, I’ve been reading, and some of the side effects are scary, but rare. Some sad humans have tried crushing the pills and snorting or injecting them, earning it the label “the poor man’s cocaine”. Most of them ended up in the ER with tonic-clonic seizures. Wellbutrin is prescribed for smoking cessation, but is also an antidepressant, which acts on dopamine levels, not serotonin. Wow – dopamine… that’s my thing.
From this little bottle, memories start flooding out. My 2015 breakdown. Alone and overseas. Clueless as to the avalanche of unaddressed shit suddenly hitting the fan and spraying me in the face. Telling my mother I was suicidal over Skype. My little sister crying, worried to death. Psychiatrists. SSRIs. Losing the use of language for two weeks. Saying “I can’t drink” for the first time, “I’m on antidepressants”. Feeling like a walking wound. Having trouble crossing the street. The first human on earth to ever had suffered. Snorting addrerall. Snorting Cocaine. Therapy, for the first time ever. Writing the worst collection of poems, ever. Putting myself back together, slowly. Finding resources. Finding strength. Building self-esteem. Discovering the human community of sufferers. Offering to help. The tremendous growth of the last five years.
And now I sit and stare at this little bottle, these little things, which tap into the mysteries of the human brain -which are also prescribed for seasonal affective disorder-, and think about how easily meds get prescribed in this country. How so many opioid addicts start out with a simple toothache. How I have been a kind of covert anti-psychiatry advocate for a while now (for those who are able to do the work with psychotherapy), with all my rambling about psychodynamics and hypnosis and meditation and yoga. Yet here I sit, facing a bottle of antidepressants, after several years of learning how to cope without them. The irony.
And then a thought creeps up: maybe this will do me some good? Maybe I should seize the opportunity? So I bargain with myself: if it’ll help me quit smoking. I can always stop the meds after a month. I can let go of my pride and desire to make it through the winter with “no crutch”. Some crutches are healthier than others. A seizure probably won’t kill you [LOL]. Etc. One possible side effect is it can give you crazy dreams: good material for your journal. You can also keep smoking – if you want- for a week when you first take them. I can work with that. Slowly, I give in.
I take a pill. It is purple, larger than I thought.
I guess I’m back on antidepressants. This was unexpected.
It is now 8:30 AM and the humans have awoken. One lady stands on her front porch in her nightdress, screaming angry obscenities as her partner walks away, head lowered. They don’t turn back. A car whizzes past, blasting equally angry rap music. Sigh. May all beings be happy. 🙂