Tomorrow it will be eight weeks since I started on antidepressants. Since then I’ve cycled through three different types, found one that seems to have manageable side-effects, and stuck with it long enough that I’ve actually had to go back and refill a prescription. This is, apparently, a good thing in terms of seeing the effects kick in and…well, yeah. While I’m not conscious of things being different, every now and then I’ll look up and realise things are different.
I also spent a lot of time catching up with friends I don’t see often over the weekend, which meant I found myself talking about the depression and the meds a bit more than usual. And I discovered that I’m extraordinarily bad at it, in a lot of respects, because I keep describing things that sound kind of terrible and being all, actually, it was awesome.
Case in point: there was two-week period at the beginning of July where I was on a set of meds that made things considerably worse rather than better. I started having panic attacks. I became very aware of self-harm, suicide, and property damage as the potential solutions to problems. I ceased to be in control of my internal monologue. For eight straight days a part of my brain would whisper things like: you cry every time you drive somewhere; this would stop if you didn’t have a car to drive anymore – you should set the fucker on fire. You keep curling up on your floor and shivering like a crazy fucker – if you put a knife through your palm, at least there would be reason. You forgot to do any writing today, and feel a little worthless – good thing you live beside a train line, huh?
I knew this wasn’t normal. I knew these were crazy solutions, induced by the meds, but my brain would loop back to them over and over. That line of thinking was the first cab off the rank when trying to deal with…well, anything. I knew better than to act on them, but finding myself back at those solutions over and over got tiring.
I spent much of that week desperately trying to hold conversations with people via the internet just so I didn’t have to listen to my subconscious suggest shit anymore. Or avoiding conversations with people, because I didn’t have the resources to hide the fact that this was going on in my internal dialogue.
And yes, it was horrible and not a lot of fun to go through, but…look, in hindsight, it was a useful thing . There was a part of me that still wondered if everyone around me had overreacted a bit, up until that point, and suddenly it was very clear that things were really not okay. I stopped fighting the idea that I might be depressed, and started putting the energy spent wondering look, what if it’s just mistake into well, this is a thing and I do not want to be back here. How do I start managing this better?
And that meant my habit of using work and writing to try and run away from the faulty wiring in my skull wasn’t really any viable anymore. There was no chance of running away anymore. The crazy had caught up. Amid the panic attacks and the desperate conversations and the quiet evenings where I’d remind myself not to go near the knife floor, there was also a sense of relief.
Over the weekend I got asked if antidepressants had affected my writing any. It’s probably too soon to say that for sure, given that I’ve only just hit a month on an antidepressant that isn’t fucking with my head or causing ridiculous amounts of side-effects.
But the last week and a bit have been kinda awesome, now that I’m settling in with my current meds, because it’s the first time in years that I feel like I’m working towards something with a writing project, rather than running away from something.
It seems like a small distinction, but it’s bigger than I could imagine eight weeks ago. I’m kinda curious to see how things come together in the coming months.