It’s these cusps that are hardest — the time between feeling so awful I think I will die and feeling, frankly, kind of fantastic. Which of these states is real? Which is the real me?
It occurred to me that this is like having cancer that recurs. I know that seems dramatic, but it IS dramatic. Each bout is so awful, so dark and painful and endless, that I couldn’t be more sick if I were vomiting and losing my hair. If my pain was something that people could see, they would wince and pray and fundraise on my behalf. They would wonder if they might have to attend my funeral, and then tell a friend how bad they felt about their negative outlook. But I wouldn’t be angry if I found out, because I’ve wondered the same thing.
I read a novel once where the main character had leukemia, and she spent a lot of time envisioning her healthy cells killing the malignant ones, and her immune system growing stronger and stronger and vanquishing all comers. It’s harder to do that with the brain, because it’s essentially a big pile of goo in my skullcase, and because it just won’t let me. How do you visualize your serotonin not reuptaking successfully when you can’t visualize why you should get out of bed, ever?
This summer my sister called me every day and as I wept and railed and hyperventilated about how terrible my life is she repeated calmly, over and over, You need to adjust your meds. You need to adjust your meds. You are not seeing things clearly. Adjust. Adjust. And somehow, I managed that, and lo, my life is not terrible. I mean, thanks to Lexapro I may never have another orgasm, but as my shrink pointed out I would also never have another orgasm if I were dead. That’s a really good point.
I’m living through a repeat of 2009, when the right combination of psychopharmaceuticals gave me the bounce I needed to move into my own place, get a promotion, and start dating — all within six months. This time I bought a house. I have been filling up my social calendar and telling stories and putting myself out there every which way I can. I have a big crush on someone nice, and even if it doesn’t work out, I’m enjoying it. And look — two blog posts in a week!
I’ve been making it a point to see and talk to my friends lately. I had occasion to elucidate my support network recently, and when I heard myself rattling off all the people I love and who love me I thought, my god, what an embarrassment of riches. I have so much love in my life it’s ecologically irresponsible; I need to donate some of it.
I’m like that classic comedy/tragedy mask, black and white, a chimera. I wish that weren’t true, but then, if wishes were fishes we’d be feasting all the time. Right now I feel lucky; I have a great family and great friends and a whole new chapter opening before me. I lay awake at night and ponder color schemes for my new dining room, and whether I want a porch swing, and when I can get a kid for that second bedroom. When I do I will paint it with blue skies and just a few wispy clouds, and affix stars to the ceiling that will glow at night. It’s no guarantee against storm clouds and darkness, but then, does any such guarantee exist? All we can do is celebrate the sunny days when we have them, and look forward to enjoying them again when it’s been raining for a while.