When I was 21 I got sober and joined a recovery program. I was terrified of drinking again and desperate for relief so I did absolutely everything that was asked of me. I took every suggestion, worked every aspect of the program, divulged all my secrets and in time, even joined other groups. About a year and a half into my sobriety I realized that no matter how perfect I was in my recovery, no matter how hard I worked or how much service I gave, it wan’t changing the fact that I wanted to die. I sought help from a psychiatrist, was diagnosed with Major Depressive Disorder and began anti-depressants. In early 2005 my diagnosis was changed to Bipolar II Disorder and I started on a mood stabilizer.
Between 2002 and 2011 I swallowed some kind of pill everyday (with rare exceptions). I have taken at various times, at fluctuating doses, and in different combinations Effexor, Lexapro, Trazadone, Seroquel, Lamictil, Paxil, Prozac, and Wellbutrin. I do believe these medications helped keep me alive.
I stopped taking any and all psychotropic medications about a year and a half ago. I didn’t have a particularly good reason for stopping. At the time I was taking 700 mgs of pills a day, and everyday for almost a year prior, I wished I was dead. It just suddenly seemed absurd. My intention when I stopped taking the medications was to see where my baseline was and be re-evaluated from there, but so far, I haven’t gone back to a psychiatrist. My therapist has mentioned it several times, and I’ve been honest about the fact of my resistance despite not understanding its cause.
I believe that psychotropic medication can and does save lives, and that when responsibly and accurately prescribed can dramatically improve quality of life for those who need it. I have no problem with it. And, I choose not to take anything right now.
Why am I sharing all of this tonight? I wasn’t thinking about it before I sat down to type this post. What I was thinking about was how it’s this life, this specific life as I have tried to live it that I don’t want. I don’t want it. I have tried so hard for so long to fit the mold. I have tried so hard for so long to be what I thought I was supposed to be.
I thought I was the problem. I bought into the myth that there was something wrong with me. I want to scream at the heavens in wrath at the thought of how long and how much I have tortured myself with a lie. I am not a disease that needs to be made better. I am not mentally or emotionally ill. I am sick to my bones from this life to which I don’t belong and have never, ever wanted.
I want more. I want to know my aliveness every moment of every day. I want to revel in the fact of being alive. I want to radiate. I want to be disgustingly and exquisitely human. I want it all to matter. I want it all to be meaningful. I don’t want to waste one precious drop of it. And it is killing me to do otherwise. That is my depression. And it’s not something that can be fixed with a pill.
I am just beginning to know this. I am just beginning to separate the truth from the lies. In this beginning, I know a tiny spark of hope. The answer to the question I so often ask myself comes so easily right now: Yes, of course it can change.