Adventures in Depression
I'm Jamie. I'm a jobless musician currently lying in bed naked at five in the morning, laptop sitting on my lap (ow, btw) and devoid of any will to sleep. This is likely because of a lack of melatonin in my brain, something which controls sleep regularity. For years, I've had this problem; I don't get tired at night, and I can't wake up in the morning. This was normal in my late teens/early twenties, because hell, that's what teens/early twenties do. Stay up and sleep in. Anyways, the older I got, the worse and worse this problem got. One day, I just spontaneously realized that on top of my fatigue, I was entirely ambivalent to everything. It went entirely beyond exhaustion, and turned into something else. All of a sudden, I had no will to do the things that I had to do, and didn't care about the things that I liked to do. It was like my soul just drifted off without saying goodbye properly. For a long time, I thought that i was just in a rut. I thought, well, my feelings are a consequence of my actions. I feel shitty because I'm not doing anything great in my life, and I'll feel better when things turn around.
So I quit smoking and drinking, decided to go back to school, and got an absolutely stunning and brilliant girlfriend. Okay, truth be told, I quit smoking and drinking, and went back to school, because I got an absolutely stunning and brilliant girlfriend. No matter, that minor fact isn't important in this part of the story.
I finally felt like I had the chance to turn things around, and that I was in control of my own happiness.
Well, I was close to being right, but I was way off. After a few months, things got worse than before. I was sleeping all the time again, drinking heavily, having panic attacks, and all that fun stuff. Eventually, my beautiful and brilliant girlfriend left me, and then things got even worse. The heartbreaking details of our relationship aren't really important, as much as I might want to pour it all out, but I cracked a little when she left me. It was pretty rough, but ultimately I can understand it. I have a hard enough time dealing with myself sometimes, and I can only imagine what is must be like to be around me when I'm like this. That is, cripplingly depressed. Eventually I dropped out of school for the third time, got an apartment in a horrible part of town, and tried vaguely to get a job, before landing on welfare and giving up almost entirely on trying to be a productive human being. I felt like my job was just to keep myself alive from the point of waking up until I went back to sleep. My overtime was taking two-hour long showers and crying loudly, not having a clue why I was doing so. I stopped eating regularly, eating one meal a day at random times, and sometimes not eating at all. I tried constantly to not be such a Debbie Downer, to tell myself that I had no real reason to be sad, but it just didn't do anything. On top of these feelings, I was now confused, because I couldn't figure out what I was crying over, or staying in bed for, or trying to drink away. You know when you listen to a sad song, and you remember something really sad, and get totally into the music and have this really satisfying sad feeling inside you, and you think "oh man this song is totally how I feel right now" and you try to cry a little bit and it makes you feel even better for some reason? Well that's the complete opposite of depression. Depression is listening to a sad song and just tuning it out. You don't have any use for that self-coddling swill when you're depressed. Being sad isn't an escape, it's a reality that you're stuck in.
It should be mentioned that I was on a low dosage of some anti-depressants up to this point, but I secretly suspect that my family doctor had prescribed me such a tiny amount as a placebo. Eventually things got really, I mean, really bad, and I went to a walk-in clinic, where me and my nice new doctor upped my intake massively.
So that's a brief little history there. I'm still not sure why I'm writing this out. It's mostly because I can't sleep at all right now, but maybe I can make something out of this yet. All you need to know about me is that I'm depressed, and trying, optimistically, and with much difficulty, to get better. Hopefully, these little snippets will help whoever you are understand the burden and difficulty of depression, and better understand the difference between being sad, and being sick.
So the side effects from these pills make me vibrate. It's this really fine tremor that goes all over my body. Sometimes, when I need to challenge myself, I stare at my hand and try and keep it still. I haven't won yet.
So I'm coming down off the Zoloft, changing from an SSRI to Effexor, an SNRI. So far, it's been pretty hairy. In addition to a euphemism, I'm also convinced that the Zoloft has literally made me grow more hair on my chest. SNRI's are more aggressive than SSRI's, so the side effects are going to be, well, shittier. This is something I'm not looking forward to, but I'm willing to deal with if it seriously makes me feel not so terrible anymore. Maybe, if I have the energy, I'll get to explaining what all this SSRI/SNRI business is all about.
Strangely enough, one of the side-effects that I'm experiencing from Zoloft withdrawal is EVEN MORE SHAKING. Well, that's just perfect.
So as I was saying, I'm coming down off of the Zoloft right now. I'm tapering off of 100mg down to nothing in a week. The problem is, I only have 100mg pills. So for the first 36 hours, I didn't take the pill at all. After almost two days without it, I starting having those brain jolts I used to have when I was coming off of the Ciprolex (my first anti-depressant). Like little electric charges that just spark in your brain for a tiny moment, as if you've time traveled somewhere and back in an instant. This proved to be pretty unnerving, so I decided that I needed to get some Zoloft back into my system. Having only 100mg pills, and knowing that I need to ween off it, caused a problem. I only wanted about 50mg, and the pills are sealed capsules. Thinking myself to be clever, I try and open one up, only to have it explode, revealing a surprisingly large amount of very fine white powder, which laid heavy in the air before setting onto my desk. My room now looked like either a successful anthrax attack, or a failed cocaine party.
Determined, I took a sharp knife to another pill, slicing off the top of it carefully, and spilling as little of the fine white powder as possible. I emptied the capsule onto a CD case, and proceeded to divide the pile in half with a credit card. Needless to say, I was happy no-one was around to see it, because surely someone would have misinterpreted my situation, looking like a crazed junky as I leaned over the emptied pills and divided up the substance with my shaking hands.
Zoloft in its generic form is a chemical known as Certraline. Now, I am no expert in chemistry, but from what I have devised, certraline is a powdered form of concentrated acid which deals with depression and anxiety by physically burning the bad feelings out of you from the inside. I learned quickly to follow the directions on the prescription, and to take the pill with a full meal, otherwise I had an hour of chemical burning to deal with in my throat and stomach while the pills did their magic.
I had forgotten that Certraline is just-add-water-lava as I scraped the stuff into a spoon. It hadn't occurred to me that the stuff was safely contained in a time-release capsule for a reason, as I put the surprisingly large pile of atomic dust into my mouth. I salivated into the dry stuff, and swallowed it. At first, nothing. I felt like I had found my solution to my 100mg pill dilemma. But then, the foulest, most acidic taste enveloped my very being. A taste that I couldn't rid from my mouth with anything I put in it for three hours. I still need to find a solution to this problem before the week is over.
One of the worst side effects of Zoloft is sexual disfunction. It really isn't fun. Today, I realized that I hadn't even thought about sex for over a week, which is not normal for anyone, really, if we're being honest to ourselves. I won't go into the details too much on this one, but I will say that nothing makes you feel like a normal, happy, functioning human being than failing at the only activity that we're really on this earth to perform.
As terrible as this is, I made the even sadder realization that I'm willing to be chemically castrated just to make all of this weight go away. That should really be a proper indication of how terrible and dismantling depression is. It should be how people explain depression to people who don't believe in depression:
"I feel so horrible that I'm willing to give up sex just for the slight possibility of feeling marginally better."
That pretty much sums it up, I guess. But right now, I'm in the process of switching over to a different medication, that hopefully won't be as soul-crushing. The worst part is, though, even if I gain back my libido and prowess, I'm sure there will be a cost; possibly a much worse side effect. Like, oh, Chronic Pain, Anal Leakage, Burning eyes, extreme vertigo, nausea, stigmata, spontaneous combustion, etc.
Stay tuned, as I've got a lot more coming. But for now, I'll try and rest my eyes again, and struggle to wake up tomorrow.