Sunday, May 15, 2011


A few years ago, I was taking medication for depression. I was on it for about six months. Then I quit. The explanation I gave was only part of the reason and since I can't sleep, due to thinking about it, I figured that two years off the meds was enough time to really be honest about it.

I've describes myself as fluctuating between a 2 and 6 on the "how you feelin'" scale. I figure I should better describe that scale:
1 -- Your brain is in total shut down. It's trapped in this dark loop that's no thoughts, just horrible, horrible feelings. You can't do anything that requires a little thought. You don't walk. You don't eat. You can't sleep. And you don't care if you piss yourself.
2 -- Your brain is trapped in a loop of darkness, but there's enough extra there so you can function on autopilot. You can use the toilet. You can eat. You can do your mindless bits at work. Hell, you can even drive. You can't, however, do anything that requires even a little critical thinking. Even something relatively simple, but that you don't do all the time, is impossible. Speaking with people is also very hard to do.
3 -- Now there's room in your brain for thinking along with all the darkness. You can pass yourself off as being in just a "bad mood," so people don't worry about you. You can lie to others, but not to yourself about what's going on in your head. The horrible things in your head seem possible to do.
4 -- A lot like 3, but you can see the stupidity in some of the things you thought about/are thinking about.
5 -- You don't give a shit either way, but there's still a weight on you shoulders or chest pushing you down.
6 -- The weight is gone, but you don't feel light. You have trouble empathizing with those who feel good, but it's easy to fall in with those who aren't.
7 -- You start to feel light. You feel the emotions of others and you start to want to share the way you feel with the world.
8 -- The world is rosy. Sure, you might see some problems and you can empathize with the guy whose dad just died, but it's not going to ruin your mood.
9 -- You feel pretty great and you can think critically about everything around you. You can learn. You can talk. You are probably the best version of you that you can be.
10 -- You feel really damn good. You function mostly on autopilot going around doing the things you normally do and knowing everything is right.

(I'm pretty sure there's a stage where you're so blissed out that you can't even function, but I doubt people can reach it without the help of some pretty heavy drugs.)

(Also, I realize that this system isn't the same for everyone. These are my numbers. I'm sorry about how short the higher numbers are, but it's been a long time since I've soared to any of those heights.)

When I was on my medication and it started to even me out, I stayed near a three or four. Those are the most dangerous numbers because you feel bad, but you can think and, during that time, you think you're thinking clearly about things.

To be more specific (and yet vague): The day I decided I had to get off that medication was the day I was going to buy a garden hose. I had it my arms and was carrying it to the cashier when I stopped and realized that maybe going for a drive out into the woods where it would be just me, my car, a full-ish tank of gas, and a garden hose wasn't such a smart idea for my family and friends.

When you are at a 2 for short or long periods of time, you think about garden hoses, among other things, but it's beyond your capacity to do anything about it. Garden hoses aren't something that you've used everyday, or even once a week, for years and years so while the thought might be there, you don't have the ability to use a garden hose, assuming that you have one.

Short forays into 3 and 4 also lead to thoughts about garden hoses, but you're not in that state of mind long enough to do anything with a garden hose. When you're evened out and spend ten, fifteen, thirty days at that level, garden hoses are all you think about and it seems like a good idea to buy one. Garden hoses seem like the best idea not just for you, but for everyone. And you convince yourself that everyone'll understand because you've been trapped in a dark place for a very long time. If they end up having a problem with it... well, fuck 'em.

And as tired as I was, "fuck 'em" just didn't seem like the correct answer.

So, I talked to my GP and the psychiatrist, at the time, and they bounced me back and forth for a couple of weeks, neither one wanting to put me on something different. I got tired of being what that med made me and convinced my GP to ween me off of it. I went back to being what I am without it and I started getting days back where the weight was lighter and my mind was more grayish than black.