I am an emotional roller coaster. Not right this moment, but stay with me here. The older I get the more the twists and turns and deep dives have begun to settle into small rises and falls. Sometimes it feels like I've just crested a small hill in a fast moving vehicle, but it's not the dramatic drop that causes one to scream with confused exhilaration. I used to be the Mind Eraser at Six Flags. These days I am not exactly the Tea Cups at Disney, but I've definitely got a hell of a lot less hairpin turns. I'm like the Screamer at Adventureland (you only get that if you're from Iowa or nearby... ).
Six years ago this coming December, I had what can only be considered a bit of a meltdown. Fresh from a break up, fresh from the holiday, full of self-doubt, and one day after what had been my wedding anniversary, I woke up in a panic. Panic turned to tears. Tears turned to two days sobbing and wondering if I had finally lost my mind.
I did the only thing I could do. No, I didn't call my mom or my sisters. I did not call my friends. I called acute care. Obviously my eyes were broken. They kept dripping and I couldn't make them stop. Fortunately, a doctor was able to see me and asked me to come right to the office. By this time the sobbing was almost controllable. My face was a blotchy red swollen mess. If it hadn't been for the tear streaks on my face, you would have thought I was on a bender.
When I was called back to the inner office to be seen they ran me through the standard process. Age, medications, temperature, pulse, height, weight... and that's where I lost it again. By the time the actual doctor showed up in the room the sobbing had returned full force. He went right for the heart of the problem... "So what's going on?" (They know how to ask questions that get answers)
(insert incoherent sobbing)
I believe it was out of desperation to get me off of the table and out of the office as quickly as possible that he wrote a prescription for Lexapro. Before too long I was blissfully numb. I smiled more. I didn't cry at all. I stopped yelling when I was angry. That sounds pretty good right? After years of feeling worthless and trying to smile on the outside so that no one would know that I was dying on the inside, I didn't feel anything. It was a welcome respite.
My relationship with anti-depressants lasted about one year. It took me about that long to realize that I wasn't quite addressing the problems that led me to the doctor on that cold December day. Apparently there is a fine balance with medications. Numb wasn't supposed to be the goal.
I can't remember who died, but I should have felt sadness for someone. I didn't. When I realized I had no feelings on the matter whatsoever, I asked myself a critical question... What if it had been someone in MY family. How would I feel about THAT? The answer, "I guess I would cry? Wouldn't I? I think I'm supposed to cry, right? Holy crap.. this isn't right."
I stopped taking the pills that day. It has been a very long road and certainly not one I would advise everyone to travel. There is a place for anti-depressants and it's a choice for the individual and their own doctor who is faced with a sobbing, blubbering mess in the office. I've had to address some things in my life that I had constantly smothered. There are things that I'd buried so deeply that even now when bits of them resurface I am a little shocked, hurt, and scared. Those feelings are fewer and farther between though, so I can't complain.
This is usually about the time I begin my annual freak out. Less than two months to my birthday, and by now I've usually made a mental check list of all my short comings, things I feel like I should have accomplished by now, cataloged every grey hair and wrinkle, and every single wish that hasn't been granted me. NEXT STOPPPPPPPPP PITY PARTY! This year though, that stop has been removed from the route. I found something this year... It's a faint glimmer of peace. Believe it or not, I found it here.
So to all my survivors out there, those of you who are climbing your own mountain, those of you who have made it to the other side, and for everyone who feels like they are finally coming into their own I raise my glass to you. For those of you at the bottom of the mountain looking up and thinking you will never make it, reach up. I guarantee there is a hand reaching out to help.