on being dizzy

I am dizzy right now. As much as I would like to turn this word into a metaphor for my life, I mean it quite literally. I’m dizzy because I’m weaning myself off of my Lexapro. And by “weaning” I mean going cold turkey.

For those of you unmedicated readers, Lexapro is an anti-anxiety, anti-depressant pill. The first half of the description is the euphemistic cover for the latter half. No one wants to use the word “depressed.” It’s scary as hell. Whenever anyone asks what the little white pills are that I pop along with my birth control (which I’ve also run out of, but that’s something I plan on re-filling) I tell them that they are anti-anxiety pills. People shrug and think “ah, Prozac nation.” Or they have no idea what that reference means and they continue thinking about rainbows and unicorns.
This isn’t a pro-medication rant against bastards who think that meds are for the weak-hearted. I can and will rant this rant any time. But it’s like arguing religion: people who don’t agree with anti-depressants (those who think they’re unnecessary) will never change their minds. Rather, I’d like to acknowledge why I have decided to stop taking my happy pills.
I ran out of pills. I’ve had a prescription since junior year of high school and I guess my pediatrician decided that she didn’t want to prescribe medication for a girl she hadn’t seen in two years …so I no longer have a prescription. The only way to get more Lexapro (trust me it’s not on the black market because it takes weeks to kick in and once it does it only, like, slows down your evil thoughts–so not as fun as other prescription meds) is to talk to a therapist, maybe start meeting with a therapist, pay actual money…you get the idea. I’m too lazy to do it. When I shook my orange bottle and it failed to rattle in return, my first thought was “I’m too lazy to get more pills.” Fear didn’t grip me and shout: “But I’m gonna be so depressed now!” So I decided to try life unmedicated.
What’s it like to be depressed? I guess it’s different for everyone. For me it was a feeling of entrapment…I realized I couldn’t escape myself when I felt exactly the same no matter where I was or who I was with. Whatever was bad was awful and it wasn’t going away any time soon.
But what’s it like to be unmedicated? I think it’d be like walking through a snow storm without a coat on. Life’s the snow and the coat’s the safe, warm feeling of having a pill make everything better. And I know, I know that it doesn’t “make everything better” and that this blog and the pieces of paper “journals” I have scattered throughout my memory boxes at home help me clear my head of the things that shouldn’t be there. I know that the tiny pill is only one tiny part of helping ourselves exist in the onslaught of experiences that constitute our wonderful and painful lives. But still. It feels good to have that tiny white friend, the one that understands you better than anyone else. The one that knows how to fix you.
How will I feel now? Will the goods be great and the bads be horrid? That’s what I fear–that the bads will consume me and the goods won’t even try to combat them. The pill kept the bads from getting worse but I think it may have kept the goods from being everything they could have been. Only 10 milligrams. That’s a low dose in the world of “crazy pill popping depressed kids.” But maybe 10 milligrams of something that I don’t naturally create is enough to take the edge off my pain. And maybe enough to make my joys just a little less joyful.
Once the effects of not having Lexapro in my system wear off and my dizziness goes away, I’ll be standing here without a coat on. I’m scared. But I’m ready to see how good things can be.

my abnormal bucket list and how dying isn’t normal but living is necessary

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I only follow two blogs: one is funny (hyperbole and a half) and the other is tragically beautiful (alice’s bucket list). Can you imagine being 15 and having a bucket list you don’t know if you’ll complete? Of course not. I guess that phrase “can you imagine” is almost always rhetorical, because someone almost always has it worse off than you do.

I like how simple Alice’s blog is. She doesn’t try to wax poetic, she just writes about what she wants and what she does to get it. She isn’t trying to be quotable; she’s just trying to record her last moments. She recently blogged that she was afraid about what would happen when she’s gone and no one is promoting her charities the same way she does. She wants people to donate bone marrow to a fund in the UK. I’m sure there are other charities she supports but that’s the one that she seems to talk about the most.
A dying girl supports charities. And here I sit (lay actually because I never just “sit” in my bed) truly supporting one charity: my self. What can I donate to my body and mind today? Relaxation, exercise, chocolate, endless time with people I love. As scared as I get sometimes about my future, I still know that it’s there. I never see my sister or mother or brother or father going anywhere. My good friends will be standing around my apartment’s island countertop forever. My life is a perfect cycle of take shots, go out, wake up go to class go for a run drink lots of water do homework go to bed early and maybe go out again in a few days. It’s like I know what I’m looking forward to. My big plans include going to Europe next summer but that’s about it.
So could I possibly create a bucket list? Even now, at the invincible age of 20 I don’t know if there are big things I want for myself. I’d rather not skydive. Meeting someone famous would make me too nervous. Traveling thousands of miles to see one of the “wonders of the world” doesn’t really seem practical.
But what if I didn’t have long to live? It’s not really a fun game to play with one’s self. In fact when I have dreams that I’m dying or dead (my dreams are never rainbow and lollipop oriented) I wake up and cry, for the thought doesn’t inspire action, it triggers dread and stagnation: I go back to sleep to avoid the thought. Creating a bucket list is not fun, but maybe it’s necessary. Maybe if you thought that you only had a few months left, all the silly stuff would come off the list. Meeting Lady Gaga wouldn’t seem so urgent but hanging out with your estranged father could become endlessly important.
When I was little I used to get these feelings–these intense moments of euphoria that would make me feel light-headed and tingly all over. I think these were unrecognized moments of the literary kind of ah! that even Proust can’t capture. I haven’t had this moment of past-present-future fulfillment in many years. Sometimes, in a split-second I feel complete and satisfied and happy with what has happened, is happening, will happen. And inevitably the split-second passes and the next seconds and minutes and days are normal. There’s nothing wrong with normal, but if your life had a time limit don’t you think you’d want a little abnormal thrown in there?
So that’s my bucket list: abnormality. Not like a physical deformity or a visit to a circus, no: simply the opposite of normal. If I didn’t have much longer to live then I would want to feel life at least a few more times.
I had this phase when people would ask me what I wanted to be when I grew up I’d say: “happy.” Yes, I want to be a writer and a lover and a reader and an eater and a runner but I can’t really be any of those things if I don’t, at least for a split-second, feel myself wholly a part of them.
Alice’s blog is not quite as abstract as this; she is pretty sure that she knows what she wants before she dies. She knows that she will not accomplish all of her goals and in her final days she seems okay with her pieced-together and incomplete mission. Those tiny moments of fulfillment that I hope (eyes squeezed tight, hands held out waiting) for so fervently have expanded into all of the seconds of her days. I can never say how she feels but I think her bravery glues all of her desires together and creates the most whole person I’ve ever encountered from afar.
To Alice I would say: not accomplishing everything on your list is not a failure; having a list at all, in the face of a ticking clock, is accomplishment enough. To let your desires and your dreams overcome your fear and your young life’s end is about as much living as anyone can do.

henry


I should never be lonely. I have a boyfriend with whom I can selfishly share myself, and he himself, and us ourselves. I have friends who always want to talk, to analyze, to live their lives out through their words and to hear me live mine out for them. I have a mother who texts me, calls me, visits me even though I live two hours away. And I have someone with the same DNA who can’t technically read my mind, but who said that we can’t understand through feelings?

But I’m lonely a lot. I feel isolated in my mind. Stranded. Swimming around in brain fluid that’s too thick, so that I can’t always pull myself up to the top, so that sometimes I’m drowning. I act cold towards my boyfriend. I ignore my friends’ calls. I send my mother too short emails. I try and try but can’t react to my sister’s stories. I’m too caught up in myself.
And then someone plopped in my lap and nestled in and settled down and by God if he didn’t make everything ok, for a moment, for a minute, for a day and most importantly–for right now. His name’s Henry and yes, he’s a puppy.
I bet you thought this would be another woe is me piece about my brain and the stuff it can’t do. There’s time for that later. That stuff isn’t going anywhere. But oh how quickly Henry will grow! There are a million reasons why he makes everything better, but one of the important ones is his size. He’s small and dependent. He needs me. Whatever pressing concern I may have crumbles, disappears, evaporates when I see him stumbling around. You hold him and he lets you know that he’s ok. I made him ok, so that makes me ok, right?
Someone might say that babies are the same way–they give you love unconditionally and in return all they need is your attention and care. But here’s the thing about babies: they grow up to be humans. We inevitably have expectations for humans, even the small ones. But dogs–dogs simply are. We don’t expect them to be loyal, innocent, mind readers.
So here’s Henry. I’m pretty sure he could care less about my brain fluids, he just wants to curl up next to me, as long as we’re touching. As long as neither one of us is alone.