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On Anti-Depressants–Part 2

Anyways, so, me and quite a few of my folks. Our brains don’t deal with Serotonin properly, and so, we use a class of drugs known as SSRIs. Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors… just what it sounds like, in other words. It inhibits our dodgy neurons from reuptaking all the Serotonin they make, so some can actually get to the next neuron, and we can actually *use* Serotonin inside our brains.

Serotonin’s an important one; it’s involved in mood, appetite, gauging social situations, sleep, and loads of other things that matter less, to me. For me, it’s good to finally understand why, even as a child, I often got 5 hours of sleep per night, or less. It’s nice to understand why, when everything is right in my world, I sometimes feel no pleasure or joy at all; just emptiness. It’s nice to know that my obsessive thoughts and depressing, terrifying fixations were the product of a chemical imbalance, and not just me, not trying hard enough to think positive thoughts.

It’s even nicer to take the damn pills, and get some sleep once in a while (at night, and everything!) and to not have dozens of full-blown panic attacks in the same day. (I counted once–30 is more than 2 dozen, ergo, “dozens”, although I grant you that’s getting by on a technicality… I was sleeping 3 hours a night, then, and having terrible nightmares, and waking up every hour within those hours… where were you then, Serotonin???)

Anything’s better than that. Death would have been better than that. I was planning death, actually; but since I was half out of my mind, convinced I would go to a fiery Hell and burn for eternity, AND my kids, growing up without me (their dad doesn’t believe in anything) well they’d be doomed to the same fate… in the end, my boyfriend took me to the doctor, and they put me on meds, and within 2 weeks, I was happy again. I thought maybe I was a little TOO happy, after a lifetime of watching my dad (he’s bipolar)… but the headshrinker said not. So, here I am. On my meds, and grateful every day of my life that I didn’t do something unforgivable, when I was going batshit crazy.

But taking the meds has its challenges, too. I take something other than what they started me on, because on the first SSRI, I got to the point of sleeping 14 hours a day, and still being too tired to do anything. My sex drive (a rapacious, excitable, excessive drive, or so I’ve been told) utterly disappeared–it’s hard to have a sex drive, when you can barely feel your genitals, and having an orgasm has become an impossible goal. I was also getting fat (fatter, really); too much Serotonin makes you hungry, and I was eating for England and America combined. So I swapped my meds, and the one I’m on now gives me less of the same type of trouble; reduced sexual pleasure, as opposed to non-existant; sleeping patterns that are erratic, but I can live with them; days where I’m starving and days where I hardly eat at all, but it sort of balances out.

My current medication also occasionally puts me in a scarily high mood–if I were bipolar, for example, being on anti-depressants and regularly going 36 hours without sleep, and wanting to have sex a dozen times a day and switching between deliriously happy and angry enough to punch someone in the face might be considered signs of mania–but hey, they told me I’m just depressed, not bipolar, and who am I too argue?

And really, who AM I too argue? Just a whackado who almost killed herself–and was wondering whether or not she should take her kids with her, because why should they have to stay in a world that’s so horrible I can’t bear it?–and who, no matter what, is going to be on some kind of medication for the rest of her life. I’m a firm believer in modern medicine, and better living through pharmaceuticals, and I can live with the fact that the drugs probably do a surprisingly high amount of damage to my internal organs.

I’d rather die of liver failure when I’m 60, than of tying a rope around my neck when I’m 30.

So I take the meds (plural, because as well as my daily dose of happy pill, I have a tranquilizer for short-term use, if and when my anxiety gets out of control) and I deal with the side-effects. I took my pill before I started writing this, actually, and I can feel a hint of fuzziness around the edges of my mind–what WAS that final point, I wanted to make?–but it’s of no consequence.

The final point is that I’m on anti-depressants, and I always will be; and although it was the thing I feared most, when I was a teenager (after my dad got his diagnosis of bipolar) I have lived through something that was worse. To ensure that, if I ever have a repeat of that experience, I live through it again, I will stay on the meds… even at their sometimes astronomical cost.

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