the silver linings pixlet: therapeutic levels redux;

Twenty years of medication that alters my brain chemistry, and I can no longer remember all the words to “American Pie”.

Sure, this was just a witty aside, shared on a popular social networking platform one Saturday afternoon at the hairdressers, the music so low I could barely make it out over dryer sound and head underwater, leaving me to the bass line and an imagination that couldn’t make it past helter skelter inna summer swelter, something something fallout shelter (is that even it?!). But behind it was a serious point and one that, honestly, was probably behind my latest attempt to ditch the meds: how much of this is girl, and how much of it is sertraline?

Coffee and journalling at Singl-end Merchant City, Glasgow

My shitty memory is a great example. I can remember what legal concepts are ones I’ve written about before at work but none of the books I’ve read; I know if I’ve heard a song more than once but few of the details of my wedding day (all the more reason to write everything down?). Maybe I’m just one of those people whose memory is a garbage can. Maybe I wouldn’t be, if I hadn’t been on anti-depressants pretty much straight through since 1999.

By this point, medication is as much a part of me as my hair colour, or my favourite base products. It’s good to have a routine, but I’m also down to mix it up a little every so often (bearing in mind no more purple until after my sister’s wedding). And so I gave it a go; cut back so much I’ve spent the past two months alternating days between a low-dose pill and nothing at all. And for a few weeks, it was fine. Until, of course, it wasn’t.

Here are some of the things I’ve been feeling these past few weeks:

  • super paranoid/convinced nobody likes me;
  • unable to drink a single alcoholic drink without severe hangover feels within 20 minutes;
  • intense body hatred;
  • taking at least an hour to get to sleep every night despite being super tired all the time;
  • alternating panic/despair when I’m not doing things (but too tired to distract myself with anything other than Cooking Mania and episodes of Brooklyn Nine-Nine);
  • unable to concentrate on work

Chuck in an etc. or two, and that about sums it up.

Now, some of these things are all me. In an ideal world, for example, I know I’d sleep 2am-10am and wake up feeling fresh as a daisy. I have to work at keeping standard hours, particularly now I only live that #OfficeLife four days a week. My inability to put that work in, though? That; that’s new.

French toast, halloumi and coffee at Singl-end Merchant City, Glasgow

I did wonder for a while if I was maybe just too scared to come off anti-depressants, but I don’t think that’s true. I wouldn’t say I’m proud to be on them, but I’m certainly proud of the person I am on them: I’m determined, motivated, a good listener and a supportive friend and big sister, and I usually have a little bit of money left in my bank account. I have tonnes of time for others but none to clean my house. I get to show up for work, and go through life having those “good days and bad days” that people who do not live with mental illness delight in telling us that “everybody” has. Putting words to paper does not (always) feel like climbing a mountain in too-tight jeans. I can sometimes even make it all the way through “A Better Son/Daughter” by Rilo Kiley without bursting into tears.

and sometimes when you’re on
you’re really fucking on
and your friends, they sing along
and they love you

My doctor says we’ll try again in the spring. I’m not all that arsed, really.