Chemical Topographies

Chemical Topographies

I‘ve come out of the woods and into a clearing of sorts, though I still stand on the edges.

A year and a half ago I wrote a post about taking antidepressants. It was the beginning, and I had promised to document the ongoing journey. I have not written about it since then, even in a private journal, but I have shared it with close friends. My desire to share now has to do with the realization that, miraculously, I am experiencing this thing I have hoped for a very long time. Relief.woods
The right kind and combination of meds took a year to find. The list goes something like, Prozac, Wellbutrin, Lamictal, Abilify, Topamax, Lexipro. Prozac made me unbearably sleepy, Wellbutrin kept me anxious (with higher blood pressure), Abilify made me angry (I told the psych nurse curtly that I refused to continue taking it), and Topamax (used as an appetite suppressant) made me lethargic. Lamictal and Lexipro seem to be, literally, my happy place…

Read More

Until Morale Improves

Tenderness:
1. sensitivity to pain
2. gentleness, and kindness; feeling deep affection; devotion

~ ~ ~

There is very little silence here. I won’t let there be. Silence is too loud. I know it must be heard, heard and sorted, but it’s hard. I do let small moments leak through leaving blind spots, like those burned into the retina by something on fire. But it’s getting better, and I have more grace with myself. It takes a long time to really grow, a long time to let myself be as broken as I am, and then heal.  And begin to heal. But it’s happening.

I began seeing a therapist at the beginning of this year, and about a month ago I realized that I trust her. The main reason it has taken me so long to find some kind of counselor is the rawness of these things that burn. I’ve spent so long being hard on myself that letting someone I barely know hear about my issues, and then advise me has been too difficult. Like someone poking an open wound, even though no one has ever been as mean to me as I’ve been to myself.

So I’m extremely grateful for this little hispanic woman who is more encouraging than corrective. It turns out what I’ve needed all along was tenderness upon tenderness. And mostly from myself.

How are things with you?

Read More

Do Not Be Afraid

Fear leads us to hurt, or to reject other people. John said, “There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.” (1 John 4:18)

Because I grew up in the church, it’s easy for me to point the finger that direction, and say that the church often carries an “us and them” mentality. These are the rules, and we know who’s in and who’s out by who follows these rules. But why does this matter at all? Why do you have to know who’s in and who is out? What if you just lived in a house with a bunch of people from varying faiths, and with various morals, and you worked together like a family? How could it work, unless you loved, unless you didn’t fear what their otherness might do to you?

What will their otherness do to you?

When I was growing up, there was a pressure to not be close friends with Unbelievers. It probably says somewhere in Proverbs that “bad company corrupts good character,” but I’m beginning to realize that I am already the worst kind of company. We’re very, very afraid of becoming monsters, of being thrown out of the family, of becoming unacceptable, and unloveable, and this actually leads us to throw other people out first.

What if I’m friends with a gay person? What if (even worse in our current world) my neighbor has opposing political beliefs? What if I want to get drunk or have sex outside of marriage? How can we stop the world from becoming tainted by The Other’s ugly, wrong, oppressive, horrible view? How can we keep ourselves safe from tyranny, or keep ourselves from becoming tyrants?

Though I know very little now, I do know that one road that won’t work is the road of fear. Fear will lead us much more directly into suffering and monsterhood.

What defensive actions are we taking based on fear? How are those actions harming us, and those around us? What would it look like if what John said was true- that perfect love casts out fear? How would our daily lives be different?

Read More

Darkness, My Old Friend

Wednesday I visited the doctor and was given a prescription for an antidepressant. In spite of struggling with depression for over twenty years, this is the first time I’ve been open to the option.

Although I’ve struggled with/against/under/inside depression since the age of 16, it only recently dawned on me that anxiety plays a huge role in that depression. It is why I am often overwhelmed in large groups, or when there are sounds in competition with each other, in logistical meetings, or in crises when I must make a decision,  just sitting around thinking about intense things. Feeling overwhelmed then leads to a powerless/hopeless feeling that is what many consider to be depression. It all started with a sudden fall into despair and hopelessness as a teenager, and has aged with me, and probably shaped me in ways I cannot name.

The question of being medicated has been around since I first reached out for help (about a year after the problem began), but I always put it off, wanting to seek other avenues. Depression is very difficult to conquer, for the reason that it disables the part of a person that knows how to ask for help. Depression sinks itself in with perpetuating behaviors, and enervates the muscles necessary for getting out. Thus, my attempts to seek professional help were few and far between. When I needed it most, I was least capable of asking. When the attempts I made failed, I became further crippled from trying again. One dismissive psychiatrist, and too many hoops (including that unscalable wall of things that cost a lot of money) kept me at home seeking other remedies. This search has led me to discover many healthy outlets/helps. I don’t name anything as a Cure, but there are many worthy management tools…

Read More

You’ll Shoot Your Eye Out

I‘ve decided to act like a grownup for Christmas this year. I should have done this long before age 39, but you must understand that I didn’t realize I’ve been acting like a child until some time in the mid morning of today.

When you’re a kid, your parents make holidays- from scratch out of love, and special parent magic. When you leave the house, you transition through stages: holidays with friend’s families, holidays with just friends, one horrible New Years Eve spent alone, several happily solitary Thanksgivings. And you enjoy the freedom, thinking that one year, not long from now, you will begin your own family; you will start your own traditions. You will tap into the parent magic for yourself and start building holidays as a gift to your own children.  Your heart will be made of chocolate and your spouse will know just where (and how) to hang the stockings.

That is, unless you remain (mostly) single and (mostly) childless. If this happens,  you will one day get an email from your boss asking you to work more in December, you may briefly compare yourself to Lucy Eleanor Moderatz from While You Were Sleeping, and then start sobbing in the middle of some house you are cleaning in Bellevue…

Read More