Well, I’ve returned from my trip out west, finally, and had a decent time. I haven’t written here in a while and life has been a bit hectic with jetlag and unpacking and getting into the swing of studying again. For those of you who don’t know, I’ve been at the required residency for Goddard College, where I am studying for my MFA in creative writing. I was away from February 9th until the 19th, and I picked up lovely Puzzle on the 20th. Before and during the residency I was full of worries because I’d been depressed. I was concerned about how my low mood would affect my ability to function fully at the residency because of the rigorous demands of the residency schedule and the demands that the program places on students over the course of that time, but I managed okay, with some difficulty here and there–nothing major to speak of. I was also worried about my studies over the course of the semester. I’m still worried. But I’ll put those worries aside for now.
NOW THAT I’VE THOROUGHLY BORED YOU (SKIP TO THIS PARAGRAPH IF YOU WISH) I’ll talk about something entirely different–
–Meds. I feel like I’m totally dependent on these chemicals to have a decent life. I’ve worked closely with my psychiatrist to combat the depression I got myself into and worked out a plan for the residency but it took a while to tailor it: I took an off-label dose of the antidepressant Cymbalta (120mgs) for the duration of the residency, which kept me above water in terms of the depression, more or less, and also took extra Thorazine, an antipsychotic, beyond my usual daily dose (700mgs instead of 600mgs). I survived nicely.
Insurance (Medicare, Part D) wouldn’t pay for the high dose of Cymbalta but I had extras, just enough for the trip.
At any rate, my old problem came back with my eating, which I found rather disturbing–not that again–before and during the residency. I found myself unusually drawn to food. In the last couple of weeks before I left I was bingeing on whatever was around (one day at home I ate about three pounds of chocolate all at once) and at the residency I ate indiscriminately with no regards to common sense–at least to my perspective that was what I was doing. When I got home it felt like a magnet was pulling me toward the kitchen and something supernatural was causing me to force-feed myself.
Then, as planned, I lowered the Cymbalta from 120mgs to 90mgs. Magic. It felt like an ugly curtain had lifted. No more problems with food.
From 1980 to 1984 I had trouble with bingeing and I found it extremely disturbing to the point of attempting suicide because of it. In the summer of 1984 my doctor put me on Lithium. The bingeing suddenly stopped and stayed stopped. Magic.
And so on. So I truly don’t believe this crap about bingeing being caused by this “psychological need to comfort oneself” or out of loneliness. It’s not a fucking bad habit. It’s a very serious psychiatric problem and you don’t poo-poo around with it. At least in my case, it comes from a chemical imbalance and no amount of therapy could “cure” it. And I do believe that for a lot of people that is the case, and they don’t realize it or haven’t considered medication (or haven’t tried the “right” medication) to combat bingeing. If you binge it doesn’t mean you’re weak. If you’re depressed it doesn’t mean you’re weak.
Which gets me to this point: I feel like I’m this organism that responds to chemicals.
Still, the meds haven’t changed my personality. I’m still the goofball I always was. I still put my foot in my mouth at times. I’m still sort of slow at things. Like at the airport. Took me forever to get my stuff into the bins at security. Don’t you feel intimidated by all that crap they put you through when they make you walk through the metal detector, etc? I’m glad none of my meds are in liquid form.
No, but seriously, I wonder what life would be like if I never got on meds. I think I’d have died a long, long time ago. These drugs are life-sustaining. Believe me.