As a young child I was diagnosed with a stress disorder. Simple things that would cause a mild heightening of endorphins in most people, would have a devastating physical effect on my person. I was diagnosed as a manic-depressive, my emotions were on display for the world to see and I felt like an animal at the zoo. It was physical as well. It started in mini-mod soccer, whenever I’d play goalie I’d have a horrible panic attack. They started to happen throughout my later years and would present often times with little to no real stimulation or reason.
I should specify what a “panic attack” truly meant for me. I did not hyperventilate  and feel like I couldn’t breathe, nor did I scream and cry or have a mental breakdown. Completely out of my own control, and unstoppable once it started, my body would start to feel a low tingling. My fingers would be the first to go numb, and the wave of paralysis would work up my arm until my left side was completely disabled. This stroke-like state would continue for a few hours, and as it receded it left in its wake, horrible nausea that lasted for the remainder of the day.
There came a day, when my parents and I decided that I should start to take medication for my condition, and thus, as a sophomore in high school I began to take depression medication. It was, and remains to this day, a very heavy decision upon my conscience. I suppose the pros are a great place to start, the most important of these is my ability to coexist normally in my life, and not experience literally paralyzing stress. It also has an effect on my emotions, I do not feel numbed by my medication, but I am also not a manic-depressive incapable of rationality. The cons I feel are a list less easily tackled.

My mother was on antidepressants when I was young, and they numbed her to the world. My childhood memories don’t include her, outside of background noise, and I remember that she took a lot of naps. This was the original reason I chose not to be medicated, I did not want to be like that, a numbed person who prefered sleep to the joy of life. I was an honors student and graduated as the top student of literature in my class, I was also at the top of the choral program and on the cross-country team. I didn’t want to give up on my vitality.

Depression medication is famously over prescribed to people, a combination of lazy doctors, and tenacious patients who truly think a miracle cure for unhappiness exists. If you feel depressed, if you feel stress in your life, you have no business being on a drug that does nothing for you aside from costing you money. Antidepressants are meant only for people who have depression or anxiety. Conditions of this sort exist because of a chemical imbalance in the brain that cause us to be incapable of placing rhyme or reason to our emotions, and to be completely out of control with regards to our responses to everyday stimuli. A beautiful day at the fair during summer break with your best friends and you feel broken, your life is perfect, you have no worries, aside from the constant worry that you must have forgotten a worry to stress over. I believe that I have anxiety, but my mother, was simply depressed, she did not have depression.
I finally made the choice to medicate myself, I did everything the doctor said, and I switched my prescription around many times until I was in a place where my medication was not a fog within my brain, and allowed me to live a life not dissimilar to the one I had before. There is one thing however, that causes me to pause, and occasionally convinces me to try to go without them.
There is a small part of me that wishes the world could accept me as a manic-depressive that collapses into paralysis. I believe that even though that person had no friends, was constantly unhappy and hated the highs as well as the lows of her existence, that person is the real me. My real identity is that of an unpleasant person, selfish, with little regard for others. Without medication I have horrifying fits of happiness, rage, sadness and fear, medicated I have a life, I have friends I can love and participate with, people who care about me. Crazy as it sounds, sometimes I feel like I should just be allowed to exist in that wholly negative manner and that people should care about me in spite of myself.

In the end, I am happy to have the choice, I am happy for my father’s speculation, and for my mother’s support. There are days when I ask myself why the hell I can’t be loved as the real me, but let us be honest, the real me hated being loved. I remain therefore, a medicated, happy person, who feels depressed and anxious, for real reasons, and I don’t have to worry about never being able to hide my emotions from anyone. My medicine is like paper mache for a mask, I do not wear it always, but finally, I can have a secret, I can grieve or elate in the privacy of my head. My mind is my own, and if I let you in, make you privy to my emotional state, it is because you are special, you deserve it, and I want you to know.

4 thoughts on “Medication

  1. My daughter recently publicized her childhood memories of me focusing on “depression,” and my regular habit of napping in the middle of the day.

    While there may be some truths — I do take medication for depression — I didn’t start them until the very last years of my marriage — to cope with my unhappiness, and to get me through a very nasty divorce.

    What was left out of her diatribe were facts of spousal incompatibility. A controlling histrionic man and a introverted but highly intelligent woman. Oil and vinegar. There wasn’t any reference to the fact that when he was around, I was the third man out. He nursed her, he demanded I work instead of stay home with my baby, he adjusted where she would sit at the table, he constantly took her from me — displaying to all what a great dad he was.

    The only magical times I had with my daughter took place when he was not present.

    I was lounging on my porch summer evening — taking in the full moon as it rose over the Spokane River. It had been a scorcher of a day and I had opened all the windows of my little house to let in whatever waft of a breeze came our way. My now ex-husband was away playing whatever sport du jour he was involved in and it was just my little pink two-year-old and me taking our ease, sipping lemonade, and enjoying the scent of hot sap being released by the giant Ponderosa Pines after a long hot day.

    As we sat relishing that sacred mommy and me time suddenly, out of nowhere, we were being accompanied by Cajun music that was coming from across the river. The channel made for perfect acoustics — placing the party in our front yard!

    What was a mother to do? I grabbed her into my arms, ran into the house to put on our dancin’ clothes and Nawlins beads! (I had made matching hippie sundresses for the two of us earlier that week — not knowing where we would ever wear them, but was moved to make them nonetheless.)

    There we were, the two of us, twirling to “Twist and Shout” on the cool green lawn in our matching dresses — under the light of the summer full moon. And, it really was Mary Chapin Carpenter and her band performing across the river at a small college — something that never happens.

    Then her dad came home, talking about his victory, asking why in the world we were wearing sundresses at night…not waiting for the answer…

    Mothers love their daughters with intense complexity — probably because they see themselves in their female offspring. All of the obvious and frequently chronicled feelings and emotions exist. But — as we experience when we look into the mirror — there is also a mixture of confidence and lack of confidence, high self-esteem and low self-esteem. Worry. Wonder. Whether right or wrong, our own hopes and dreams become wishes we we bestow upon them.
    She is 22 now. She doesn’t remember our moonlight dance — or many of our magic moments.

    But they are in there…way back in the dark recesses of her mind. I hope she is lucky enough to find a compatible partner. One who celebrates her for who she is — not who they think she should be. And when she has a precious daughter, perhaps she will have an inkling of sorts that will compel her to take the babe into her arms and dance to a little night music under a full summer moon.

      • There is so much going on here, I don’t even know where to start! I do like the way you tried to troubleshoot your condition and trying your best to avoid any long term medication, but you are doing the right thing by using it to bring out the best in you for everybody to see. I get your point about not feeling “genuine you” by taking them, but come on, you also have people you love and things to do in this wonderful life. You do what you gotta do to maximize whatever good this life has to offer.
        I think it’s pretty cool your mom comments on your blog 🙂 What a sharp contrast from my I keep mine a secret from everybody around me; I use my blog as a way to express how I really feel about controversial issues and topics. I know, I know, I should really be genuine to myself and to everybody else, but why make enemies needlessly? Lot of the stuff I blog about will probably offend most of my wife’s friends, especially if they use a I FULLY enjoyed your mom’s perspective on everything that was going on while you were little. All the issues she had are everything I’ve been thinking about. Family politic is a big pain in the butt. It wasn’t too long ago when I was at a fork in the road. I was really bothered by the fact my wife gets to spend all the time with our kids, while I’m the guy that utters simple, “good bye, have a good time, see you when I come home from work…” to “I’m back, what is that delicious aroma coming from the oven?…”. I wasn’t happy with this arrangement. I wanted to stay home and hang out with the kids, I wanted to be more involved with them and have more 1:1 time with them, I wanted to be Mr.Mom and start competing against my wife. My kids are so attached to my wife, they are inseparable. I knew if something terrible ever happened and I couldn’t be with my wife any more, I would have to make sure both my kids go with the wife. This sad thought is up there with one of the most depressing moments in my life, maybe an anti-depressant would have helped. But all kidding aside, I had to figure out a solution, it’s never a good idea for a bad thought to just boil up inside. I’m always seeking good logical solutions to offset any bad subjective feeling that rears its ugliness. I can go on and write another 20pages of random jargon on this, but I’ll go straight to the conclusion. After some heavy soul searching and contemplating I came to following solutions to my complicated equation on family. 1. I love my wife more than anything in the world, 2. Anybody who harms her will pay a heavy price. By going back to the basics I am able to prioritize my order of operation. My wife is my highest priority, followed by my kids at a distant 2nd and 3rd place. Once I realized this, everything became crystal clear. My wife is my #1 and our kids are my wife’s #1s. I’ve been brainwashing my kids to defend and protect mommy whenever daddy is not around. One time my oldest boy started acting up and started to punch and kick my wife. Without going into details, I put the smack-down on the boy and made sure he NEVER ever hit mommy again! So far, this new rule in my life has been working out great. Kids grow up knowing how much daddy loves mommy, and my wife doesn’t have to feel threatened by her life partner when it comes to getting our kids’ affection. And because my wife cares about me, she tells my boys what a good father I am, even when I only get to see my kids for about 2 hours per day. At the end of the day, I think it’s more important for my boys to grow up seeing how daddy treats mommy, than competing with my wife to be the coolest & hippest parent in the household. It’s definitely tough being the “bad guy” in the family but, as they say, “it’s a dirty job and somebody has to do it”.

  2. Pingback: The versatile blogger award « Chris9911's Blog

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