Just say “Yes” to drugs.
*The ones prescribed by a competent psychiatrist. (Emphasis on competent).
Just say “yes” to the psychotropic ones that alter brain chemistry when they have decided to take up surfing or mountain climbing or cave exploration rather than keep their day jobs and be satisfied with instant Maxwell House instead of Starbucks.
Brain chemistry is an emerging science. I’m guessing that most people do not worry about their levels of serotonin, dopamine, or norepinephrine. It is not what they think about when they wake up or kiss their spouse or go to work or get disappointed when another crash has back up I-95 like a parking lot. Some of us do or should. When they get unbalanced, so will you.
Hence the importance of medication.
At least give them a fair shake. Find the right drug, the right dose, monitor in constant dialogue with your psychiatrist and see how your life can be.
When you are done trying to pray away your depression, or ignoring it.
When you finally overcome your “psychotropic drugs are for weak people” hang up.
Or your belief that it is perfectly acceptable to cry every single day and not want to leave the house and obsess about why everyone doesn’t love and appreciate you and see no positive future for your life, ever.
Just say “yes.”
What psychotropic drugs do for people like me and millions of others is to give us our life back. They give us our life back though we may not remember what life was like before. Or if there was a “before.”
They give us a life that is different from the one that is or was, a different life.
A more preferred life.
But not necessarily a more normal life. Psychiatrists hate that word “normal” because what is normal for you might totally suck for me and vise versa. For example, I enjoy folding laundry, butterfly gardening, photography, NPR, 60’s groups like the Grass Roots, loving my wife deeply, and buying books that I may never read. You might enjoy some of these things, but not all of them and probably enjoy other things and consider yourself normal. My normal and your normal do not have to be the same, so the term creates more problems than it is worth.
Of course, there are likely some things that we all can agree upon are either normal or not, but current reality TV suggests there is always a niche for a new normal for someone out there.
Before medication, my body which had always been a bit susceptible to poor reactions to stress, but typically bounced back after some R&R and a few months in counseling had finally, like a piece of metal flexed too many times, weakened and broken. Over the years I had suffered from a stream of health problems related to stress from burning reflux to Irritable Bowel Syndrome-like symptoms to Erectile Disfunction (just typing those last two words is so much fun for me now – try it). But two years ago even I in the midst of my own new normal of tears and darkness and fear and self-loathing and reflexive defensiveness could see that I had a problem that even a purring cat couldn’t solve (Honestly, Luna cat, it wasn’t your fault).
And as I type this now after nearly two years of medication and therapy and a second cat, I am more than ready to declare that life today is not like the life that once was. My serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine play much nicer with one another. Most of the time. Without too many side effects. Anxiety does seem to drop from the sky from time to time. Is it a “normal” amount of anxiety? A “typical and acceptable” amount? Eh. I would prefer none, but as my saintly shrink likes to remind me, I am stuck being a human being. Do I still get depressed? Again, eh. Rinse, wash and repeat what I said about anxiety. Certain things can trigger either of them, my own personal kryptonite. I know them and for the most part I still can’t do much about them short of constant vigilance and avoidance. It gives my psychiatrist and I something to talk about every few months.
There is real joy now. Moments profound and deep and rich with feeling, of being one with God and the universe and time and space and all that. Moments that I no longer fear will not repeat; lost forever, worthy of grief and sorrow and cascades of tears. Maybe now is the true beginning of faith. And honestly, I do not give a sh*t whether the drugs have unblocked them and freed me to experience them or produced them by setting some mad scientist free in my brain. If it is the latter, I owe him/her/it and their ordinary drip coffee-drinking selves, my life.