As always, it is my inability to complete any task that drives me to tears.
As always, it is my inability to complete any task that drives me to tears.
I find that so often with blogs, the personal intertwines with the creative. I’m not sure if creative personalities are that much more vulnerable to the vicissitudes of mental health, or if it’s just that poetry or writing itself is more closely linked to the mental realm than other things one could be doing. For example, I find that my work performance is not really affected by depression or my mental health (positive or otherwise) as much as my writing is. I suppose that’s good because it means I haven’t missed nearly as much work as I could have as a result of my various brain troubles, but I digress. A few weeks ago I stopped taking my medication. All at once. For those of you looking away in disapproval or tut-tutting at me, I would not recommend this to anyone. As usual in my life, it’s a case of do what I say, not what I do. However, I do have a reasonable excuse. Let me expound. Or expand. Expostulate?
About a month ago I realized that I had lost my prescription from my doctor. Amazingly this is the second time this has happened. One would have thought that doctors would have come up with a better system than a scribbled bit of paper for getting access to potentially dangerous substances, but it seems not. Perhaps Canada is just lagging behind and the rest of the world is happily emailing their prescriptions directly to the pharmacy of their choice, or better still posting them onto some shared website for any pharmacist to access. Anyway. As a responsible patient, I did nothing for about a week. Work has been very busy, and I kept forgetting to call them during business hours. And I still had some pills left, so I wasn’t worried. Eventually I got round to calling, and of course there was nobody there. I left a detailed message explaining the situation (as this is what I had to do last time to get it fixed). I never received a call back. A few days later I went to the chemist/pharmacist just to check if my prescription had been delivered, but nothing was there. Now, being the somewhat lackadaisical individual that I am, I did nothing again. Part of this was because I was sure they would eventually call me back, but also on some level I saw this as an opportunity. Circumstance is good motivation for me, and I saw this as ideal timing. At my last appointment, my doctor and I had agreed that I was to taper off my medication gradually (one drug at a time), and in fact I had already tapered off one of my three meds. So what with one thing and another, this seemed like a good time to stop the others.
I was prepared for withdrawal symptoms (although Wellbutrin is notoriously nice in that respect) or some dramatic change in my mood or emotions. In fact, the results were rather boring. It’s now about four weeks later, and I feel essentially the same. I have a little less energy to do things, but it’s not a huge change, and frankly I would rather be unmedicated and slightly slothful than constantly questioning my own autonomy. I have also been working up to 10 hour days, which may explain why I have no energy in the evenings. I am trying to force myself to do things like reading and writing, with limited success. I went swimming today, which I am quite proud of. But overall, very little change. In fact, this experience has me questioning the usefulness of medication at all for someone in my position. I think that I am largely stable right now, and accordingly, medication doesn’t really help me. Of course it’s the first thing any psychiatrist would suggest, but perhaps some sort of talk therapy would be more useful. A revelation!
I should disclaim again at this point that I don’t advocate stopping meds without consulting one’s physician, or stopping taking things cold turkey. I am very resistant to most side effects of most medications, and the ones I take (or rather was taking) don’t have any severe side effects anyway. When dealing with the brain, caution is best I feel. Don’t try this at home, kids!
I wrote this a while ago but realized I hadn’t posted it. This was written about someone I felt sorry for…
I saw it all while she spoke. It flickered past in that space between thought and vision, the silver screen of the mind. I saw her parents never quite register her presence. She burned brighter, hoping to turn them like moths towards her. All that sound converted to a humming light. She jumped and danced and twirled: nothing nothing nothing and then. Changed. Subtly that first time, a lengthening, a darkening. Perhaps this creature they will notice. No? Perhaps this? Perhaps this? Each change more and more rapid the phenotypes blurring in their succession such that, like a film strip, only change was visible, motive, highlighted.
The creature became one of change, its only existence in its own transience. The film strip came loose, flailed against the light. I saw that boy gripped her arm made her feel safe things begin to slow like a carousel ending she could have stepped off could have but did not step off and now too tight not safe that boundary between safe and imprisoned crossed. Saw how he held her back saw that he did not stop when she said no and she clung to something safe to be in love with that could never hit back or leave. I saw her love the music and clutch it to herself as she turned and turned again in the maze. No! That way goes back where you came! She stamped and shrieked into the crosshatched shadows. I saw her get up a thousand times, saw her never leave the bed. She did not know why, just that she had to go on. Each day on and on and never why just grinding down the enamel of days. But not knowing why is somehow not going on. Some small part of her knew that she was beautiful and was sad at the stretches of blood like drying raindrops. I saw every moment fractured, turned inside-out, reflected and half-reflected, splintered and reformed.
She had forgotten my name. From something so small it came like a lash. I realized that she hadn’t meant it, she hadn’t seen the shadowplay, the marionette all tangled in its own string. But that was just it. It was unthinking. This glass creature so focused on not breaking, every moment created and destroyed, eventually is bound to leave fragments in its wake. Stark sparkles they attract us like sharks to blood. So much blood. None of us ever mean it. We never think at all, any more. And that is how.
new year’s day
the mites patrol the halls
the beetles shudder in the rafters
all things silent
as our footsteps over old snow
it is the season of barbiturates
of totality archived
be it silence or noise
and never looked up again
the snow tears at my skin
this pale etymology of power
flows off the edges of me
the way that only winter can believe
a broken hammer lies on the kitchen table
an expired ticket
a fierce disease
this seasonal decline, unresolved
slips in as easily as a needle
we on that long walk
from nowhere to nowhere
collapsing with each footstep
we cannot take
I am so forgotten. The only real thing left in me is some existence which can feel itself existing.
Jean-Paul Sartre – Nausea
Well, from the UK actually. That vacation bliss enveloped me for about 12 hours, then I had to go back to work and it all disappeared. I find myself back exactly where I was before. Not that I was expecting a week of vacation to change my life, but at the same time I was surprised not to have more energy or enthusiasm, at least temporarily.
Today is a day for a sad song, and I can’t think of one better than this.
To write about depression. I once wrote somewhere… and I’m paraphrasing myself… ‘The problem with writing a book about depression is that when you’re depressed, something like writing seems impossible’. This is as true for me now as it was then. Not that I’m writing a book any more. Remember that? Once upon a time I was able to work on my book. That seems far out of sight now. For me personally, I find that when I’m super depressed, I just lie there in bed looking at the ceiling, virtually unable to move. So I figured I’d write about the things that are preventing me from writing, possibly before that leaden depression closes in again and I’m unable to write anything.
1. Drugs – no not the fun ‘blue monkeys coming out of your nostrils’ kind. This is the psychiatric kind. I am now up to taking six pills a day. They are all white, which I find sort of pleasing on an aesthetic level. They are also different shapes, which is interesting. I’m not sure if they help me or not. I wish I could travel into a parallel world where I’m not on medication to find out if I’m more or less depressed. I may stop taking my meds in a month or so (after I get back from the UK). I do keep saying that and putting it off. i have been on at least some form of medication now for over a year. In fact it’s getting close to a year and a half. And I cannot face the idea of being someone who has to be medicated for their whole life. I would rather be dead. Much rather. Anyway, one of the side effects of the drugs is a sort of… general plateauing of mood. And this means that I can’t feel the emotions that I usually use to write. It really takes a lot to make me laugh or cry.
2. Depression – despite what I said earlier, I have had some of my most productive times when I was depressed. No it’s not a contradiction! Let me exasperate… extrapolate… explicate? Just non-depressed enough to write, but just sad enough to appreciate the dreadful poetry of the world. But recently my depression has been the even lower kind. The kind where you’re ‘too depressed to kill yourself’ as a friend of mine put it.
3. Inspiration – living in a new city is full of challenges. For me, meeting people has been the biggest challenge. I’ve now been here just over seven months, and haven’t made a single friend. I used to write a lot about observations of the world and situations that arose in my life. But my life right now is lacking experience. If my life were a colour, right now it would be a kind of grey. If my life were a food, it would be spam. If my life were a bird, it would be a grey grey pigeon. You get the idea.
So what has been depressing you so much, I hear you fail to ask? Well let me tell you. I hate my job. I don’t care if anyone I work with gets to read this. I hate it. It doesn’t challenge me, and yet there’s so much information to remember and my depressed brain keeps forgetting things, which makes me feel like I’m useless.
So why don’t you get a new job, you ask? Well I have been looking for a job on and off for two years, but I have yet to get a single job offer. Yes my qualifications are that impressive. I am overqualified to start at the bottom, and underqualified to start anywhere else. For the most part, I haven’t even got call backs. Nope, nobody even thinks highly enough to bother rejecting me!
To make matters worse, I recently got passed over for a promotion at work. This prompted the worst episode of depression I’ve had since the last time I went to the hospital, which was January 2012. They wanted to admit me to the psych ward this time, but there were no beds in the city available (thank god for health cuts). I have been sorely tempted to try and drink my troubles away, but so far I am resisting. I would make the worst alcoholic ever. I have two bottles of wine in my fridge. They call to me, so they do.