Tag Archives: anxiety

The Pill Problem


It’s been a little while, no?

And I see that, in my sabbatical, WordPress has gone and added some fancy new features to its editor. But I’m not here to mess with that, yet. And I’m also not here to kvetch about my time away. I’m just going to point out the current quandary, which is this:

Pills are a problem.

I want to disclaim, first of all, that I can’t officially speak as a member of a “community” or anything like that. I wouldn’t feel right doing so. I don’t have a diagnosis, I’m not in treatment. What I have is a touch of something like depression or anxiety or ennui or just a particular flavor of something like a mid-life crisis. But I don’t think I have capital-D Depression. That being said, I did go and see a doctor. And that doctor gave me pills.

And, I have mixed feelings about pills, because I’m a skeptic about a lot of things, and a cynic about even more things. On the one hand, here in America at least, I know we over-hype the focus on pills. There’s a pill for everything, and then there are pills for the side effects of the first pills, and then there are pills to level you out from the side effects of those pills. Something like 50% of the population is on some sort of medication all the time, which seems bonkers to me. We can’t possibly be that broken. So when the doctor reached for her prescription pad, I felt a certain resignation. I don’t want to be broken.

On the other hand, I also know that full-on, capital-D Depression is a real thing caused by real chemical imbalances and the way to correct chemical imbalances, in many cases, is simply to medicate. So: cynical about our society’s obsession with pills, and not happy to become part of that subset, but also willing to trust the doctor and attempt a chemical solution to what could be a chemical problem.

TL;DR, I started taking Lexapro, and have been on it for basically the length of my unintended hiatus, which is at — what — something like a month now? Maybe a little longer.

And here’s the headline. I feel better! Since I’ve been on the meds, I’ve had not a single “can barely force myself out of bed in the morning” morning,  zero “inexplicably breaking into tears when asked what’s wrong” moments, and a significant decrease in the sense of general existential dread (though I imagine I’ll never get rid of all of that because a) I’m still a self-doubting writer and b) just look at the world). Life, in short, looks brighter than it did, for whatever reason, a few months ago. In fact, things seem to have turned on a dime once I owned up and admitted that something was wrong, opened up about it a little bit, and sought out some treatment. I daresay that, today, and for the past week or two, I’ve felt darn near normal.

But here’s the thing: the medication is supposed to take time before it takes effect. Again, I’m hardly expert in such things, but I was told to expect as much as 4-6 weeks before I should expect to see results. But I was feeling quantifiably better the very next day after taking my first pill. Of course, I’m a good skeptic. The simple act of taking action may have been enough to create a placebo effect; moving towards a solution may itself have been the first part of a needed solution. But now I’m a month in, and wondering whether it’s the pills that have me feeling better, or just the fact that I got it off my chest and have managed to relax a little somehow. Or some combination of the two.

Or, who knows? Maybe my funk was just a passing funk that was never going to affect me for longer than a month or so in the first place.

The end result is, now I’m on medication and feeling mostly fine again, which has me thinking maybe I don’t need the medication anymore. Of course, going off the medication could screw up my biology regardless of any underlying issues I might be having. So I both desperately want to not be on medication any more at all because I think I may not actually need it, and desperately want to keep taking it lest I relapse.

This is the pill problem.

And it’s unfortunately a problem without a visible solution in the short term. Because as much as I want to not be on the meds, I’m not enough of an egomaniac to think that I’ll be the exception, and be just fine if I go off the stuff.

I’ll keep popping my little pill at 9 pm, even though I feel a little silly for doing so. Because I’m supposed to. And because I’m afraid of what might happen if I don’t.


It’s Like This

It’s like this.

I have this jacket.

It’s a lovely jacket. Feels good on me, looks good on. Dapper, sharp, all the good things. I feel comfortable in it. More myself, maybe. I try it on and I like it so much I start wearing it all the time.

Til it happens; I get this spot on the jacket. Not sure what the spot is. It’s orangish, brownish, reddish, blackish. Just a spot, but one I can’t ignore. Given all the things I’m into, it could be poop. Or dirt. Or blood. Or just a slimy speck of something that may once have been, but is definitely no longer, food.

And well, it’s in this really conspicuous spot. Very, very obvious to anybody looking in my general direction. Like a tiny martian on my sleeve singing Glory Hallelujah at the top of its little green lungs.And I don’t have a way to clean it. I first try to fold up my arms just so, which works to cover it, but I can’t keep my arms crossed forever, not to mention I look like a standoffish SOB. And I assure myself (because it’s true, and this I know inwardly even if I have to convince my lizard brain) that nobody will actually notice it if I do uncross my arms, it being tiny and inconsequential and all.

So I uncross, and nope, it’s there, and there’s absolutely no denying it’s there. I rub and pick at it in a futile attempt to clean it, but it’s well and truly sunk into the fiber like blood into a shag carpet. Also I’m drawing even more attention to it with all the rubbing and picking, so it’s time to take it off. Into the corner it goes, fhthump.

Except now, see, there’s a new problem, because the whole outfit I created? This entire look, entire ensemble? It doesn’t work without the jacket. I mean, shirt, pants, shoes, belt — it’s all doing a job, but the jacket was central. And now it’s not only stained, it’s also crumpled up and hoovering dust off the floor. And worse than that, now I feel like a heel because what was a simple stain is compounding thanks to my neglect and frustration. And worse than that, this is all just ridiculous. This is all because of a stain. A tiny one. A pinprick of an imperfection. A rounding error compared to the jacket as a whole. Honestly, it’s probably not even visible if you didn’t already know it was there.

But there’s the rub, innit? I see the speck. And the wrinkles. And now, the dust. And how long has that speck been there, anyway? For that matter, is the color of this jacket really as bright as I thought it was to begin with? Does it even tie the outfit together like I thought? Maybe the thing looked terrible all around and I didn’t know it. Chroist, probably it’s just as well the jacket got ruined. Now it looks outwardly like crap, to go with the fact that it was always crap from the get-go.

I should probably just chuck it. It’s ruined now anyway. Can’t believe I ever thought I looked good in it, to be honest.

All that?

That’s what my particular flavor of depression looks like … or anxiety or malaise or seasonal affective disorder or whatever the hell it is that’s going on with me. Except substitute for the jacket my job, my role within the family, my creativity, my entire sense of self.

So… um.

I’m taking Lexapro now, so there’s that. Have been for about two weeks.

And I know I’m being a little bit silly. Even a lot silly. And I know that the jacket can be cleaned. And even if it can’t, there are other jackets.

But that stain is still pretty large in my vision right now.

Simmering my Brainmeats in a Fragrant Crockpot of Creative Doubt

My Flash Fiction from last week is enjoying a bit of success over at terribleminds.com.  So good, in fact, that I stand to win a free e-book off the back of it (yay free stuff!).  That thread is here:  Three Sentence Stories.  And it got me to thinking, which is a bad habit I have.  Because I love these little Flash Fiction challenges; I take great pleasure jumping into them with both feet no matter how difficult or ridiculous or outside of my comfort zone they may be.

If you’re going along with this post, you might want to check out my series of stories from last week, because I’m stewing over them right now.  Simmering my brainmeats in a fragrant crockpot of creative doubt.

Writing the last one — I should say the last set, since I expanded on the topic and wrote way more than I perhaps should have — was instructive, because the development of the stories was so strange to me.  With only three sentences to tell a story, I agonized for the weekend over what story I could tell, what characters I could bring to bear, what possible development and twists I could effect within such a short period.  My first story was good but fell into my typical vein of the dark and somewhat horrific account of a more or less mild-mannered somebody taking part in senseless violence.  It’s a little bit of a motif with me, I’m afraid, and I’m just not sure how effective it really is.  It wasn’t bad, but the moment I wrote it, I realized just how much of a step into an old shoe it was, which is why I decided to write another one.

So I rebooted, kept my central idea and parameters, and brought in new characters, new conflicts.  New perspective, new story, new twist.  And v2 was better, I think, though it still fell in the same dark, depraved vein of the first.  But twisting the idea in my brain felt refreshing, so I tried again.  If the first story was a cruise down a familiar highway, the second was a short detour on a quaint exit ramp for a franchise burger.  A bit different but nothing incredible.

So for the third go-round, I decided to take a hard left into the ditch.  Rather than characters, I characterized inanimate objects (more or less), let them talk and explore human emotions and ideas, and … end up at the same dark murderous place.  Hmm.  The new take on characters was like a fantastic little food truck discovered set up around the corner from my office.  Totally new and exciting food in a familiar and comforting setting.  I knew I was getting warmer.

On the fourth go-round, I struck gold.  I re-imagined the central idea once again, personified an inanimate object and used my scenario to describe a situation that happens every day.  Not an earth-shattering revelation about everyday, just a little thought experiment on what might be happening when the vending machine at the end of the hall rejects your dollar.  Somehow, it felt like gold.  An ostensibly ridiculous premise with an endearing (at least, I think so!) character whom you don’t expect, giving an unexpected perspective and staying light and upbeat.  So it was a bit out of my comfort zone, a bit funny, a bit ridiculous, and very much me.  As I was writing it, before it was finished (yeah, that quickly, even before I could finish three sentences), I could tell it was the best one.  That “magic” was happening, that crazy feeling where you feel like you’ve tapped into the magical mind-juice of the universe and your pen (okay, your keyboard) is acting as a conduit for the timeless universal stories that speak to everybody.  You know, a good writing session.

The fifth attempt felt a little forced, so I pulled the plug after that one.

So, to reflect, I wrote one story in my usual vein, a second with one foot out of the vein, a third with an eye on a different horizon, and a fourth that struck out toward that horizon and — by all accounts — seems to be resonating with folks who read it.  So now, I’ve got another prompt in front of me for the weekend, and I’m all in my own head, wondering if I need to write three junk stories before I get at the “real” one.  For that matter, I’m working on an extended short story and boy oh boy, does it feel awkward and forced.  Like I’m in touch with the central idea, and I’m enjoying the premise, but I can tell as I’m writing it that I’m not telling the story the right way.

Do I need a few crap attempts at the topic to “clear the pipes” so that I can get down to writing the story that I want to write?  If so, how far do I have to carry those stories out?  When I wrote Rejected v1, it felt like a pretty good story to me, but in retrospect I can see that it’s awfully derivative.  The current version of Powdered Chaos, at about 30% completion, already feels crap.  Do I need to carry it to is conclusion before I take another stab at it?  Or, having written about 4000 words on it already, can I legitimately realize it’s crap and start over without crashing my creative process?

In short, just what the hell is my creative process anyway?  This is seriously bugging me, and it’s bogging down my writing hard while I’m trying to carry my momentum through this lull before I jump into editing Accidentally Inspired.

Need to figure this out.  Anybody else have anxiety like this about your drafts?  How do you attack it?  Do I just write the crap to clear the pipes or do I resist the urge to waste time on the crap and hold out for the good ideas to strike?

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