Old Diary Entries Resurrected

I go to my doctor's office. It is a small eight-by-twelve room with a couch and a desk. It's downtown on the top floor of an old building with an elevator operator who recognizes me from my monthly visits. Like my doctor, he has seen my mercurial mood through these last eight years in the expression on my face, the presence or absence of tears, my posture, and the tidiness of my clothes. He treats me warmly and kindly...but does not intrude upon my emotional space with loaded questions like, "How are you today?"

I sit on the leather couch and clutch one of the throw pillows to my chest. I hug it tightly. "How are you feeling?" asks my doctor. "Not so great," I answer. We go over the checklist of my eating habits, my physical functioning, my social capabilities, my sleep patterns, my exercise patterns, my inner weather. Being the high achiever that I am, I want to score an "A" on this checklist, but it is soon pretty apparent that I am failing miserably. I have many reasons for wanting to succeed. Success means no medication changes.


He frowns and consults his chart. We both know that my current anti-depressant has been more and more undependable over the past three years. And I have been dreading a change to the most effective drug for atypical depression...the MAOI's. Because it will mean that I must jump through hoops to monitor the foods I eat - no wine, no beer, little chocolate, little caffeine. No yeast - which means yogurt is out. No aged cheeses. Uortunately, together these make up most of my dietary staples. But mixing them with MAOI's can lead to an aneurysm.

Taking anti-depressants also means that I think about a future pregnancy with both longing and fear. I've wanted children of my own for as long as I can remember. However, getting pregnant means withdrawing from all medications, trying to go it alone without drugs and dealing with the consequences. The literature says that I could try Zoloft throughout the pregnancy...that there are studies that suggest that it doesn't harm a developing baby. But I still think about putting drugs in my body while a new life is developing inside of me and quake with fear.

"I'd like you to consider the MAOI's," he says slowly. I clutch my knees with panic. Along with my fear of new meds, I also have to face another period of withdrawal and change. I'm so tired of withdrawal, of side effects, of depression. I can't help it when the tears spill out of my eyes and wash down my cheeks. "I can get you in touch with a nutritionist," he offers gently. I nod and look down at my notes.

"How long will the withdrawal take?" I ask. He looks serious. "About six to eight weeks as we take you off of these drugs. And you will need to be off of everything for a week before starting anything new." I thumb through my calendar slowly. Six to eight weeks of impaired functioning, of constantly shifting through exhaustion and unexplainable rages and teary, despairing stretches of time. I think, "How can I do this again?"
"I'll have to ask my husband," I hear myself say through a foggy blitz of white noise. Then, I get up and go home.


What did I miss?

Oh man! I missed one of the most fun memes of the last year during this blogging hiatus. Rats. Well, hmmm. I'm going to plunge in anyway, late as usual, just because I'm so intrigued by the question.

Ten Things I've Done That You Probably Haven't

1. Worked my way through college doing PG-rated bikini grams, many in public places.
2. Hung out of a train crawling up the mountains to Chamonix, France and sang at the top of my lungs.
3. Accidentally dropped my metal train ticket down the toilet on a train between Guiyang and Kaili in China, and then had to try to explain to the porter in Mandarin what I'd done.
4. Ate lunch while sitting on a 12" wide ledge and anchored to a cliff face on Cathedral Ledge in North Conway, NH.
5. Experienced a perfectly improvised performance with a jazz quartet in Chicago as I slipped into the "zone" that every vocalist dreams about. It was like floating.
6. Drove stick shift for the first time on the autobahn near Kaiserslautern, Germany.
7. Co-wrote a corporate improv show with one of the founders of Second City.
8. Built a HFH house in the mountains of Costa Rica with an interesting and dysfunctional team, where our most rational and helpful member was the actor, Julia Stiles. I was going through a med change at the time and was very sick, as well as experiencing a spirituality crisis, so chalk me up with "Team Irrational".
10. Rehabbed houses in the projects for Cabrini Green in Chicago where we had to go in under armed escort.

It's been an interesting life so far.

I thought about mentioning the self-initiated and intriguing 4 day stint at the Stone Institute, wishing I could tell the nurses where they could stick their "sharps". Or sleeping under the auditorium stage for most of high school but still managing to graduate as a member of the Honor Society (in training as a survivor.) Or just putting forth the enormous amount of energy it takes to get out of bed each day and plunge into living when you feel like curling up in a ball, in a corner... but I would suspect that a lot of people who cruise through this life battling depression WOULD have done that, too. So, list those under "Ten Things You Might Have Done That Not Many People Talk About".

Oh man, what a trip that was.

so. I'm back. After an ALMOST successful attempt to slip the bonds of 3 meds I'm trying to switch from...Neurontin, Parnate and Ativan. I kicked it all except for the last .25-.50 mg of Ativan. And that is kicking me. I'm giving my body a much deserved rest from w/d hellishness (and giving my DH a break too.) Now I'm on Zoloft and missing Parnate (oh, Parnate. Please come back.)

I've spent the last few months feeling like the poster child for some freaky "Just Say No!" campaign fueled by a sadistic Nancy Reagan. Children everywhere have turned away in horror as I roll in the gutter, mumbling to myself, in front of the Walgreens on Lincoln Avenue. Lurking around and waiting for the pharmacist to come out.

Well, that COULD have happened if I had actually managed to LEAVE the house at this time.