I’ve been on this medication for around nine months now. In fact, I haven’t been unmedicated in about a year and a half, which is my longest time on meds. It’s also been my most stable eighteen months all told. I’ve had only one brief stay in hospital, and I’ve only missed about eight weeks of work (which is pretty good as in 2010 I missed more than sixteen weeks). That’s pretty good considering I’ve moved across the country once (and I’m about to do it again), gone through a breakup, had some failed therapy, acquired a new position at work and also tried to be taking university classes at the same time. I’ve even started working on my book.
Of course all medication has its down sides. One of the most common is what they call ‘flat aspect’. The inability to get either very depressed or very excited about things. I’m on the highest dose of my anti-depressant right now, and I am definitely experiencing that. I find it very difficult to get excited about things. In fact, I find it very difficult to get emotional at all. Sad, happy, excited, melancholy all seem to no longer be options. This wouldn’t be so bad in general but it’s affected my writing.
It’s sort of a cliche that poets are more depressive than other people (in fact there was a study on female poets that showed they were more likely to commit suicide than people in any other discipline). In my case of course, it’s true. I write better when I’m depressed. Why? I think partly because I focus intently on tiny things. Whether for good or bad, I am able to concentrate on a tiny particle of wrongness in my world, and form something around it, like an oyster with a dead worm. Those little moments or particles are the things that I write best about.
Despite all that, last week I had one of my most productive days ever. One cup of green tea and suddenly I was off and writing about all kinds of things. I wrote twelve poems in one evening at the cafe, probably more than I’ve ever written at one time. I think in part, that’s because of caffeine. In part, it’s because I didn’t have any particular thing to say or to deal with. I just wrote. I would say a lot of those pieces are below my best, and a lot are unfinished, but I wrote them nonetheless.
That day was an anomaly though. In general, I haven’t been able to write either fiction or poetry on these meds. Which leaves me with a difficult choice. Try to write outside my best, stop writing entirely, or stop taking my meds? None of these seem like attractive options. Thankfully I have to move in ten days, so all of this will be put aside for a while. I shall reconsider from my place in the West.