Making a Little More Peace with Myself

December 11, 2010 at 7:15 pm (Uncategorized)

I take drugs to help me deal with shitty moods. With the new addition made last month, I take 4 prescription medications on top of  3 supplements. I hated the idea of drugs when I first dared to enter a therapist’s office. I was strong-willed and high functioning – I could kick this depression thing in the arse!

And I did.

For awhile.

I took an antidepressant and was stunned at how normal I felt. But I’d read Listening to Prozac, I didn’t need to change my personality, just get a little boost. So I quit the drug. And I was great.

For awhile.

The pattern repeated an appalling number of times before I finally admitted to myself that I may be taking antidepressants for the rest of my life. Becoming a mother was a huge factor in that realization. Because while I am quite good at convincing myself that I deserve to feel awful, my children will never deserve a depressed mother. They’ll get one anyway some days; depression is wily beast, often popping up just when you think it’s gone forever. But it will not be because I was too proud to take a pill.

A few days ago I was chatting with the neighbors, enjoying the sunny day and a cup of tea. The wife has terrible anxiety issues that we’ve talked about before, and she asked me to tell her physician husband about the new drug I recently started. It occurs to me that at my age, it’s quite possible I will never learn.

His judgement curled his lip and tilted his shoulders; his whole body radiated, “Oh, you poor, little, misled child.” The wife had already informed me that he didn’t want her taking anti-anxiety medication, wanting her to focus on cognitive/behavioral therapies. I will never learn. But instead of telling him calmly and letting it go, I launched into a tirade of The Overshare. I needed to justify my choices to this man I don’t know so I told him things I’ve only told a therapist and my husband. I may have been loud. I may even have been shrill.

I needed to justify my choices. To myself.

Even here, as I write, I keep veering off to divulge details of my illness. I want to spread out the stories like a mystical map pointing out my obvious, internal flaws. When I’m depressed my mind often feeds me the line, “I’m broken.” I want you to see that I really am broken,that I really do require all these medications to feel normal.

But it doesn’t matter. Yes, it’s my body and my mind, and these decisions are between me and my doctor (and in my case, my husband because he’s the master of detecting my shifting moods), but it’s more than that too.

The moral superiority inherent in the judgement my neighbor makes when he disapproves of my taking antidepressants, suggests that I don’t deserve to feel good. I’m weak-willed, lazy, of poor character. If I could just suck it up and work a bit harder (like him I suppose?) I wouldn’t need medication.

I need to prove that I’m not lazy, that I’m truly ill, that I’ve already done all the hard work so I deserve my drugs. So I trot out all the ugly, embarrassing evidence. But.

What if he’s right? What if I am weak-willed? What if I am just going for the quick fix instead of doing all the heavy lifting myself? Does that mean I don’t deserve some sort of emotional equilibrium? Would he also deny me antibiotics if he found out I didn’t wash my hands the proscribed number of times? Would he deny a woman birth control pills if she hadn’t given condoms a chance?

Cognitive/behavioral therapy is a life changer, no argument. Also a life changer? Drugs. Not a life changer? The smug judgement that burns me with shame. So from now on, let’s just assume you’re right, Neighbor Man; I am going for the quick fix. Because I am too old, too tired, and too damn busy to do all the work you would require of me to reach your level of superiority (if getting to your level is even possible for someone like me). Go ahead,  judge me. Just don’t expect me to waste anymore time feeling ashamed of my choices.

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2 Comments

  1. Tori Nelson said,

    Ok. Number 1? I think Neighbor Man might just be Tom Cruise, which is good news because he obviously thought you were Brooke Shields and she is gorgeous. And Number 2: What makes life work for you isn’t for someone else to label right or wrong. If I found that walking around pantsless made my day go by a little easier, you best believe there’d be a whole lot of disgusted folks at the grocery store…(this was supposed to be an uplifting example, but it really is gross and not so inspirational)

    • queenofantness said,

      Well I do have really thick eyebrows! And if I saw you walking around the grocery store pant-less, I’d just know we were meant to be friends. Pant-less and walking around like it’s totally normal? Just my kind of kooky!

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