“Everybody’s got to lose their darkness sometime.” — Sting
A year ago today, I took my first dose of an SSRI, and it changed everything.
It changed everything, and almost immediately. Like, the very next day. I was sure it was wishful thinking/the placebo effect, at first. Then that following week was just an epic trainwreck — I mean, the timing was ridiculous. I noted that, too: I wasn’t blogging then — I wrote two posts in March, none in April or May, one in June — but I knew when I first went to therapy with The Wizard and took his advice to try the adolescent dose of Fluoxitine, that I was going to want/need to remember those details later; so I made some notes and kept track of them. Here’s what they said a week later:
Well, that was one fuck of a week — like a 6 or 7/10 in stress and awfulness. But it all felt a lot less worse than it should have, or than it normally would have.
”… it all felt a lot less worse than it should have…”
Then I noted all the bad breaks and hard grinds and soul-bruising setbacks of that first week, and… just kept going. I didn’t smolder on them like I used to. I didn’t despair for the idea that that trendline was just steadily and inexorably downward. I didn’t catastrophize every daily thing into what it would mean as a weekly|monthly|yearly|lifely thing. I just picked up and kept going.
Soon after, I realized that I wasn’t waking up every day with that crushing regret at having to plow through another day. The days… just started seeming like days again; and then I started to get a flicker of perspective on just how long it had been since that’s how the upcoming days seemed. It had been _years_. Probably more like a decade. A whole decade.
Telling a depressed person to practice gratitude, or to just be optimistic, is like telling someone dying of thirst to imagine water. It doesn’t solve the problem, because it cannot solve the problem. The problem is the problem.
For me, a discursive loop of serotonin, just a tiny amount of one particular chemical compound, recycled through my fucking brain a couple more times than it had been, was like a waterfall appearing, suspended in thin air, in that desert I’d been dragging my ass across for so long. It was revelatory. It might have been life saving.
So it’s been 365 days since then. Happy Anniversary, little blue and white pills. It’s me and you forever. [OK, not really forever; more on that another time.] And my real birthday was a couple months ago — June 8, thanks — but in my head, I’m resetting it to August 1 for a while, because a re:birthday is perhaps even more important than a birthday, especially when you luck into it at the halfway point of the trip.
Anyways, that’s all I’ve got for now. Another link in this loop chain. I can feel it speeding up, now that we’re around that penultimate curve, and I just wish I could carve out more time along the way to tell these stories. I wish these could be my re:birthday present to you — whoever you are — and a little more expensive than I can afford now, and a little more nicely wrapped, and maybe with a fancy bow on top, just because. Maybe it will be more that later; maybe not. Gotta let it be what it can be, because trying too hard to make it everything was another part of the problem.
[Oh, and also: it’s not really today. I checked; I was making detailed notes. It was actually last July 28th, at precisely 5pm, that I popped that first pill. But I’m never gonna remember 7/29; much easier to round it off and call it 8/1. Also, being a stickler for marking it as 7/29 is the kind of nonsense detail that my old brain would have insisted on. Fuck you, old brain. Re-patterning/de-patterning/anti-patterning.]
I took a walk alone last night; I looked up at the stars. I picked a star for me; I picked a star for you.