“My soul is impatient with itself, as with a bothersome child; its restlessness keeps growing and is forever the same. Everything interests me, but nothing holds me. I attend to everything, dreaming all the while.” ~ Fernando Pessoa

“Fields” by Kasimir Malevich (oil on canvas)  

“I was so scared to give up depression, fearing that somehow the worst part of me was actually all of me. ” ~ Elizabeth Wurtzel, Prozac Nation

Feeling rather mellow today. The feeling that I have been strung too tightly is finally beginning to recede, due in large part to being able to take my Cymbalta again.  

Rapeseed Fields in Qinghai, China

Years ago, when a doctor first tried to put me on antidepressants, I fought him tooth and nail, as it were. I remember telling him that I wouldn’t be me without all of the intense highs and lows, that I did not want to be medicated all of my life. He told me that I may or may not have to stay on medication for the rest of my life.  

Two times I have tried to go off antidepressants, both times taking myself off cold turkey. I remember vividly the first time that I did this was after my ex had left, and I found out that my daughter was going to be put on antidepressants. I felt so consumed with guilt that she had inherited this condition from me that I wanted to show her that it would be possible not to be on medication. I also thought that if I were off the medication that I would be able to think more clearly.  

Boy was I wrong. I crashed very, very badly, but hid it from everyone. My preoccupation with my daughter’s illness overshadowed any thoughts of taking care of myself. What I realized, though, was that I could not take care of her if I was not able to take care of myself.  

The other time I stopped taking my medication on my own was when someone close to me told me that I shouldn’t be relying on medication, that it was creating a false sense of security. Again, I stopped cold, and stayed off for several months. But the fact is that I need medication. I have a chemical, biological need, which is nothing of which I should be ashamed.  Now that I know this and have accepted it, I do not like to be off my medication as it does affect me adversely. I become very snappish, bitchier than usual, and cry at the drop of a hat.  

Why should I live like that when there is a medication that evens out my extreme highs and lows and allows me to live like those in the world who do not suffer from depression? And so after a few days of being back on, I can already feel my body begin to shift. I do not feel like a violin string too taughtly wound, ready to break if touched in the wrong way.  

“All melody is a sweet echo, as it were coincident with [the] movement of our organs. We wake the echo of the place we are in, its lumbering music.” ~ Henry David Thoreau

Fields of West Flanders, Belgium

It’s very quiet here today. It’s been raining steadily since early morning, and the temperature has risen to the 50’s, which is a nice change. undoubtedly we will have more cold weather, but I am hoping that the worst of it is gone. We usually have at least one cold snap in February and another in March.  

Brett is spending some time at his friend Gordon’s house, which always does him good. He and Gordon have been friends since childhood, which is interesting since Gordon’s father and I have known each other since grade school. Yes, life is cyclic.  

Brett and I have been talking about college. It’s late in the year to be applying, but he is still unsettled as to what he should do. He is very interested in astronomy, but not many universities offer degrees in astronomy or astrophysics. The reality is that he will probably have to do his first year at ODU and then transfer. It’s probably going to take us a year—at a minimum—to get back on our feet after Corey starts back to work.  

Brett’s interests are diverse: He wants to study astronomy, but he is also interested in creative writing. I really have no idea where he will end up, but I hope that he sticks with the plan to go to college. Eamonn began classes last week, and so far, no problems. I think that perhaps all of my children may take longer to find their individual paths, but that’s all right.  

“In a real dark night of the soul it is always three o’clock in the morning, day after day.” ~ F. Scott Fitzgerald

So last night, I managed to fall asleep before 3 in the morning. What a breakthrough. I never thought that I would get to a point in my life when falling asleep in the middle of the night felt like something to celebrate, but there you have it. The downside is that I think I was probably able to fall asleep earlier because I had to take Phenergan for my nausea twice last night.  

Field of Sunflowers in the Loire Valley, France

My body clock is so backwards. I sleep the soundest in the two hours after noon. Only then, it seems, do the dogs settle into a deep sleep, and only then am I able to sleep without fits and starts, a constant awakening after only 45 minutes. If only I could turn that around so that my deepest sleep occurred at the precise moment when I have lately found myself trying to capture sleep.  

I suppose that this, too, shall find its way back to normal at some point as long as I do not fret about it too much.  

That’s about all for now. In recent days I have been suffering from bouts of unexpected nausea again, hence, the Phenergan. Corey thinks that I’m developing an eating disorder. What he fails to realize is that I abhor throwing up, absolutely abhor it. That is why I know that I will never be bulimic. Nevertheless, not sure where this nausea is coming from, so I suppose I need to make that long overdue appointment with my gastroenterologist, that along with my long overdue, breast-smashing mammogram.  

Oh joy. I’ll leave you with a passage from a writer/poet who I am very late in discovering, Alejandra Piznarik, a Russian émigré to Buenos Aires. She lived to be only 36, but what I have read so far is passionate and beautiful. I want to read more of her, but I am going to either have to learn to translate Spanish, or find more of her work in translation:  

I change the colour of paper, the colour of ink. I write laughing. I write to ward off coldness and fear. I write in vain. Silence has corroded me: some poems remain like a dead person’s bones that chisel into my frightened nights. The meaning of the most obvious word has been lost. I still write. I still throw myself urgently to narrate states of astonishment and rage. A very slight pressure, a new recognition of what’s stalking you, and you will no longer write. We’re just a few steps from an eternity of silence.  

More later. Peace.  

“Fields of Gold” by Sting, appropriate for a mellow evening.  

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Infallible, Untouchable, and Immortal?

Why You Might Be Surprised on My Feelings About Drug Use

I know that I have mentioned my use of prescription drugs more than once in some of my entries, and I have admitted to inhaling as I was no angel in my younger days. I liked to get high, and for about a year of my teen years, I did it quite frequently, but then I decided that that was probably enough playing around, and I got my act together, stopped getting high all of the time, stopped skipping school, and still managed to graduate with honors, and that’s something of which I’m proud, especially since I know that if I hadn’t had a lost year, I could have probably ranked higher (absolutely no pun intended) on the list in my graduating class.

As to prescription drugs, yes, I have a dependency on muscle relaxers. I wish that I didn’t. I don’t take pain pills unless I absolutely have to, but I cannot get through the day without muscle relaxers. My back, shoulders and legs simply will not allow it. I have spasms that are so bad sometimes that I feel as if the side of my back has moved into my shoulder. I get knots in my shoulders that are the size of walnuts, and they have to be massaged out, or I have to get trigger shots to release them.

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"The Scream" by Edvard Munch

I also take preventive medication for my migraines, which I feel is a miracle drug. Before I started on the preventive regimen, I used to have migraines that lasted for weeks. Now, a bad one might last for days. I once had a migraine that was so bad that I could only eat jello, and I lost 12 pounds. I looked mah-velous, but what good is that when you feel as if you can only live in a bat cave?

And then there are the anti-depressants. These are a way of life for me. On occasion, I have convinced myself that I am all better, and I have thrown them away. For a while, I feel great. Life is great. The air is great. Everything is great. The birds are singing. La la la la la. And then comes the crash, which isn’t great. People who are clinically depressed do not enjoy being that way, believe me.

People who have never had any kind of clinical mental illness simply cannot understand it. They believe that you can snap out of it. Or will yourself to be better. Or pray yourself out of it. Or take vitamins. Or (and I love this one, my mother used to say it to me), think happy thoughts. Okay. Sure. That works for a while, for some people. But for those of us who are truly, clinically diagnosed, you may as well be chewing sweet tarts for all of the good that it will do you.

The advances that they have made in psycho-pharmacology are really incredible. I mean, I remember when everyone was handed Prozac, and it was declared a wonder pill, capable of curing everyone’s ills. Well, I’m here to tell you that it didn’t cure mine; it made me worse. It took trial and error and time to find the right medicine for me. But now, pharmacology has advanced so far so fast, and even though it’s still trial and error in getting to the right medicine for an individual’s body, there are so many more roads to try so that your medicine doesn’t end up turning you into a zombie.

No one should ever feel ashamed to need medicine for being depressed or anxious, and any sect of society that still imposes that kind of stigma is living in the dark ages. Many of these conditions run in families; some are caused by hormones, others by traumatic events that have occurred in life. Some last a lifetime; others just months. With the right medication, some people who are diagnosed with a mental illness can continue to function in society without major issues and without having to announce to the world that an issue exists, because after all, it isn’t really the world’s business. Is it?

But the kinds of drugs that I’m talking about having a problem with don’t come with a prescription. I’m talking about pot and cocaine and meth, or prescription drugs that belong to someone else that are being used for something other than that for which they are prescribed. That kind of drug use bothers me and is weighing heavily on my mind right now.toking

Let me clarify. You’re probably thinking that I’m being a hypocrite about pot because I just admitted that I smoked in high school, and I didn’t turn out horribly, and everything seems to be fine. However, I’m talking about excessive pot use, as in getting high every day, sometimes, a couple of times a day. I smoked pot once or twice a week, maybe. I still went to school, turned in my assignments, took care of my chores, you know, basic things.

What I’m seeing is getting high on pot, and then abusing prescription drugs, too. The result is a crappy personality, full of smart ass retorts, no respect, and manipulative behavior. An incredibly narcissistic person whose dysfunction is being exacerbated by the drug and alcohol abuse. And I cannot even believe that I am writing about this because it violates his privacy. But how about how he has violated my soul, my essence?

Am I to continue to allow this personal pummeling on my morale without responding to it? Each time feels like a new violation on my spirit. Each time I wonder where the boy has gone that I knew, the one that I rocked to sleep every night the first year of his life. Do I love him less for what he is becoming? Do I beg and plead internally in this ongoing argument with myself to wait patiently, that things will turn around, that this is just a phase, that all parents go through this, that the boy I love is there beneath this arrogant, selfish, man-boy? Do I remind myself that all youth are self-centered, ego-centric, narcissistic, wholly wrapped in the concept that they are infallible, untouchable and immortal?

When I was 17, I was already going to college full time, working, paying for my own car insurance, gas, clothes, and expenses. But I was atypical, and this goes back to my belief that I have already lived a hundred other lives, and this one is but one in which I am already an old soul. I wanted to have these responsibilities at a young age. I was already beyond where he is now. Not everyone is like me.

So how do I keep my expectations realistic? I know that he is not me. That much is certain. But to be on the receiving end of so much disdain, such a lack of common courtesy is unacceptable. My children were not brought up to be heathens, barbarians. That is intolerable. Perhaps the wildness is youth, but the rude temperament is not a matter of age. I can cloak the wounds to my soul for now in the hopes that he moves past this phase, but I will not tolerate shunning the teachings of basic human decency that he has heard since he had ears to hear and a mouth to speak.

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Cover from French Lieutenant's Woman

So, it comes to this now. I wait. I will put into action the plan to remove the drugs that I have access to from his access. I will try to find within myself some of my father’s stalwart patience, the kind he used on me during my rebellious years.

I just had a fleeting image of The French Lieutenant’s Woman, who went to the edge of the bluff each day to look out to sea, no matter what the weather, even though she knew that her lover would not return. It was an open-ended story, but I always saw her time on the bluff as a way for her way to gather her strength to face the day and all that it held for her, for she knew that it would not be easy. Funny how the doors in the sand castles of your memory open and release something for you to hold onto when you need it most.

There will be more later. Peace.