From the WordPress Daily Prompt – Jan.4, 2015
Tell us about your first day at something – your first day of school, first day of work, first day living on your own, first day blogging, first day as a parent, whatever.
Years before I was officially diagnosed with bipolar disorder, I suffered from random bouts of depression. These episodes were at times very deep, dark, and suicidal in intensity. For 12+ years I stubbornly refused to admit defeat by swallowing down the pills of cheating sanity – pills that I felt were beneath me, and my exception-to-the-rule mentality. But the time came when I could no longer fight the inevitable.
I had just given birth to my second son, and things were not right from the start. Aside from an extremely stressful and emotional pregnancy, after his birth I felt only a fraction of the bond that I felt with my first son. I remember staring at my newborn through empty eyes, as I was simply going through the motions of reading his every need, while I selflessly ignored my own.
Things came to a head when, after a self-sabotaging move to a small, cliquish town – I cried myself to sleep every night with the intense sobbings of regret over leaving behind the numerous friends and beautiful surroundings that were so obviously made for myself and my family. Eventually, I could no longer drag myself out of the bed that I cried in. I had two children dependent on me, as well as a hard-working husband who desperately needed them to have a mother. The culmination of that huge responsibility, along with the grief, loss, anger, and invisibility that I felt in my new surroundings, finally brought me to my breaking point.
A well-meaning friend patiently talked to me for over an hour, convincing me to let go of my headstrong resistance to antidepressants. For her, they worked wonders, and she wanted me to experience the relief that she assumed could be mine as well. I had nothing more to give at that point, and out of sheer desperation and exhaustion (and with the small glimmer of hope that she provided), I made an appointment with my gynecologist. Since my baby boy was less than six months old, my doctor considered it to be a case of postpartum depression, and he immediately handed over that little piece of paper that would presumably fix me up and make me all better. Little did I know that this would be one of the biggest mistakes of my life.
I was put on a moderate dose of the antidepressant Celexa. Of course, my gynecologist wasn’t an expert in mental health, so this prescription was freely handed out on the basis of false assumptions, instead of an accurate patient history. He told me not to expect any improvement for around 2 weeks, as the magical concoction needed time to work itself into my resistant synapses.
The next morning, I remember opening that bottle of pills, emptying my prescribed dose into the palm of my hand, with the tinge of anxious excitement over what I was about to do. In good faith, I obediently swallowed them down, and within one hour my overly-aware senses could already feel the high that had only just begun.
I assumed that since I felt the effects of these magic pills so quickly, they must have provided the missing piece to my faulty chemical puzzle . They seemed to mend the gap in the bridge between merely surviving, to actually feeling alive. I assumed that since my constant cravings for sugar immediately disappeared, these pills were providing the perfectly legal fix that I had obviously been missing in the limited powers that sugar molecules could provide. Those pills were the answer to all of my problems, and I felt on top of the world!
The pills gave me an enormous amount of energy and focus, and suddenly the demands of motherhood – once painfully overwhelming – now felt effortless. I also began experiencing a foreign, yet freeing, lack of inhibition. Life was exhilarating and easy! Things that used to bother me didn’t matter anymore, and I developed a strange lack of appropriateness in both my thoughts and the words that accompanied them.
I lost 10 pounds within the first 2 weeks of being on those pills, and I felt I was on my way to greatness! Little did I know that very soon it would all come crashing down. Little did I know that it was a mistake to get comfortable with the freedom and ease that those pills appeared to be bringing into my life. Little did I know that I set off a vicious cycle that would eventually lead to my demise. Little did I know that the euphoria I once felt with those 2 little pills would send me on the futile path of chasing their original high – which would forever elude me.
As I’ll reveal in future posts, this was the beginning of the end to life as I knew it. The rapid-cycling that resulted from taking an antidepressant, without the balancing effect of a mood stabilizer, led me down a path that jeopardized everything I once held dear. But I will never forget that first medicinal high – with all of its superhuman powers – briefly bestowed on me through my perfect mental storm.