Sunday, January 29, 2012

A Rambling Philosophical and Mental Health-Related Aside

At the core of life is simplicity. Everything else either works fluidly with it or adds complications which seem important, but are dramatic and unnecessary.

Something I've been thinking about as I examine some of the reasons why I went on Lexapro in the first place and whether or not those reasons still apply.

I have always had a terrible irritability, and when I was a kid it was seen as very troubling and abnormal but no one was willing to call it any kind of mental or emotional problem. To this day, I remember very vividly punching my plastic pencil case to pieces in the second grade, and then using a broken shard to stab another kid in the arm, simply because my teacher had yelled at me and that turned me into a live wire, and then Derek repeated the instructions and it made me feel stupid and annoyed (even though he was just being polite and didn't realize I already knew), so a sudden fury came over me and I hurt him. It wasn't even really a stab; I pulled myself back at the last second and just poked him really hard with the edge, but I'm sure it still terrified him, because it was sudden, unexpected, and seemingly out of character for me. At that point, people still liked me. It wasn't until the summer between fourth and fifth grade, when I began to put on a lot of weight, that people suddenly hated me. Back then, girls thought I was cute, guys thought I was funny, I was skinny and really good at soccer, and I was creative and people liked to play with me at recess because I made up games to play. This sudden moment seemed unexplainable and scary. I was immediately, deeply sorry for what I'd done, and terrified by it, and when the teacher asked me why I'd done it, I told her I didn't know, because I honestly didn't. I didn't know for a very, very long time, until that kind of problem started to be taken more seriously and I finally had the strength to accept that I needed help evening out.

I think I really became numb after Ellen died in 2006. That's sort of the moment it felt like everything broke. Even then, I was pretty much afraid to go out into the world, but I did it because I had to: classes, work, etc. There was no way I was going to miss Ellen's funeral. I was her big brother, her godfather, and that day, her pallbearer. An atheist ever since high school, I had prayed for her the whole year she had cancer. I begged to be taken in her place. Of course it didn't happen. If God is real (spoiler alert: he isn't), then he decided it was more important to take a teenage girl a week before her 14th birthday than it was to take a 30 year-old who was increasingly feeling like there was no direction in his life. What an asshole. And the people who told me that God works in mysterious ways... I thank you for trying to say something sympathetic at a time when I was inconsolable. But for me, it's not a statement that makes it better that the world is nonsensical and unfair.

A lot of things happened at that funeral and afterwards that I still have a hard time dealing with. The one thing that still, for some reason, sticks out at me is that my Dad told me later he wasn't speaking to one of my cousins anymore because she took the centerpieces without permission, and I thought, wow, your 13 year-old daughter just fucking died of debilitating bone cancer and even-more-debilitating chemotherapy, and the lesson you're going to take from that is that there's always time to hold a grudge against a loved one? Really? I mean, fucking really?

Life is meaningless. It's just existence. Although I fought vehemently against the notion, maybe people were right when they told me that free will is just a construct that doesn't actually exist. Maybe it's just like instinct, but we're self-aware enough to analyze our choices and their outcomes. The universe is unordered. It's a notion that doesn't scare me and never has. I believe people can be moral without a bible. Being good to people can make you feel good on its own. I'd rather my daughter did something for me because she loves me rather than do something for me because she thinks I'll punish her if she doesn't. I'm actually perfectly okay living a life that really has no meaning or point or divine moral order because curiosity, enjoyment, the love of others, and the Muppets are good enough for me. Life is fine. I can make do with what I have. Even the struggles don't get to me anymore, because I'm resigned to the struggle, so I might as well just enjoy my life as much as I can even with the struggle instead of spending so much time lamenting the struggle that I can't see past it.

Life is eating, sleeping, breathing, and moving your bowels. It's existing. And then you add the things that make it better, and you endure the things that make it worse. But at it's core, it's just existence, and I think it's a comfort. And I think feeling this more clearly and making peace with it is something I can do without an SSRI to keep me numb to it. I think I've learned not to panic because of it. Before I went on Lexapro, I said  to the doctor that I felt like I was living on a thin precipice above a giant, sucking whirlpool that I couldn't get past. I don't feel like that now, haven't in years, and maybe the drug helped me get past it and I need instead to focus on controlling my anger for myself, by myself, instead of just letting the drug numb me to it.

Next stage, I hope. Lexapro helped me stop getting wrapped up in my bad feelings. Now I need to keep that happening on my own, and with the help of people who love me. Next stage.


Cal's Canadian Cave of Coolness said...

I really admire your honesty and your ability to self analyse yourself. It really is all about perspective.

Roger Owen Green said...

I've managed to muddle through without anything. This is not to say that there weren't times when I thought that I OUGHT to be on something. I fake my normalcy so well that I'm surprise that the melancholy is still there, just below the surface.

I too wish you good luck, though I have no profound words of wisdom. Other than what someone wrote in my HS yearbook, which will only really make sense to someone older than you: "Keep the baby, faith."

Kelly Sedinger said...

I honestly know very little about depression and mental ailments, but it seems to me that your handle on the traumas that caused it all and the things that helped you put aside various issues in the past has to count for something, right?