“How do you know when it’s time to go on antidepressants?” I found myself typing into google the other day. I’ve been hearing about people going on them more and more—dear friends, partners of friends, “half my mom’s orchestra,” and pretty much every one of my pandemic podcast mentors: Sarah Silverman, Glennon Doyle; Martha Beck and her Partner Rowan Mangan in their AMAZING podcast “Bewildered.” They all talk about meditation, and therapy, and the importance of just ALLOWING yourself to feel whatever crappy piece of shit emotions come through; but then in the next breath they’ll be like “BUT I WOULD BE HANGING OFF THE SIDE OF A BUILDING HURLING GARBAGE AT PEOPLE IF IT WEREN’T FOR MY LEXAPRO!!”
So like, how much longer do I keep trying to power through the hard way, when everybody else seems to have gotten on (what appears to me from the outside) a high-speed train to sound mental health?
I mean, here I am in pandemic spring #3, wearing my winter flannel pjs all day long even though it’s WARM now because they feel kindof like a hug. My friend brings her 10 year old kid over and I get jealous when they cuddle up together under my gravity blanket, one of the things I bought in the spring of 2020 to help with anxiety and loneliness. “EE hee heee!” They giggle. “We should get a gravity blanket!! We could cuddle under it with dad!” And I think, WHY DO YOU GET TO HAVE EVERYTHING?!?
Every time I have more than 1 alcoholic drink per 4-5 days, I feel like a totally depressed sack of shit for the next day or two, playing broken stories on repeat in my head about how there’s not really any point to anything, so why bother. Was it always like this?? I can’t remember. Maybe I was too busy to notice before?!
I get sad when I hear of friends hanging out without me, or when I see posts on social media of people who seem to be THRIVING, getting asked to be a guest on Jimmy Fallon because one of the scouts saw their viral harp videos on TikTok. Like, can we just let the good news be enough of a gift? Must we post about every amazing thing that happens to us!? I think there should be a rule, that for every piece of good news we want to post on social media, we must also post AT LEAST 3 pieces of the mundane or depressing AF. That way, we can fully celebrate with you in the good news, because we now understand the subtext: “I was struggling for a while there, but now something really great has happened!!”
Anyway, all this to say, I’m not feeling like myself these days, and I’m not sure what to do about it. For sure I could wait it out, things always change. Maybe Jimmy Fallon will call ME up next week to come on his show! (Will I post about it on social media? Probably.) I could keep taking 5000 natural supplements every day and hope they just magically start kicking in at some point… Every time I go in to see my naturopath, she’s like “Okay so on top of zinc, magnesium, vitamin D, B6, and probiotics, I want you to take 60 drops of chasteberry, 45 drops of St. John’s wort twice a day, and 25 drops of dandelion root twice a day on an empty stomach. No gluten, no dairy, and eat lots of seaweed.” Every time I have to travel anywhere, half my suitcase is filled with this shit. Could I just replace it all with one little pill?
The thing is, I have always had this stubborn idea in my head that to go on antidepressants would be like cheating somehow. I have spent my entire adult life slowly and methodically healing from the side effects of inter-generational trauma. And the slow route can be really beautiful. Like hiking to the top of a mountain for the jaw-dropping view, rather than barreling up it in a car. Every so often, I look back on the person I was 5, 10, 20 years ago, and I can’t believe how much I’ve grown. BUT IT’S NOT HAPPENING FAST ENOUGH GODDAMMIT!! I mean, cough. Our joy-obsessed culture, manifested through social media, has this sneaky way of making it seem like everybody is doing SO GREAT RIGHT NOW, and I need to catch up!! I have no new exciting job to speak of, no love of my life, no baby who is suddenly making my heart burst with joy—but I do feel like I’ve done a HUGE amount of healing and emotional growth over the last 2 years. It just feels more like 200 years, when you’re doing it alone. Would a magic little pill make the healing process feel a bit easier?
But then there’s all the side effects. The trouble sleeping, the reduced sex drive, the emotional numbness… Who even AM I if not someone who cries every time I see something beautiful, like a 5-year old girl giving her lunch to a homeless man in the metro? (Glennon Doyle calls this “brutiful,” when we acknowledge the ache that goes hand-in-hand with everything beautiful. The deep sense not only that everything we love will one day disappear, but also that these moments of beauty show us a world that is possible—but doesn’t yet exist. Listen to her talk about this idea in this episode of her podcast.)
So, I don’t know. To pill, or not to pill. That is the question. I think I’m going to ride it out for a bit longer, and maybe try boxing classes and flamenco dancing. I didn’t exercise all winter which umm, may have something to do with the depression. I’m going to try micro-dosing psilocybin, which is known to increase seratonin just like SSRIs (antidepressants); but full disclosure the last few times I did it, I almost felt like I had TOO much energy, like drinking 5 coffees. I’m going to keep working my muscle to ask friends to hang out when I’m feeling lonely, rather than waiting around for someone to reach out to me. I’m often surprised at how excited friends are to hang out when I initiate—in my depressed state, I just assume everybody has forgotten about me—but the reality is, many people are beyond busy right now; and the pandemic has really fucked up our way of interacting with each other.
Maybe most importantly, I want to keep writing blog posts that are the opposite of social media—I will share the good news, but I will also share EVERYTHING UP UNTIL the good news. I haven’t written in a few months, and at first it was because I got completely absorbed into the magical world of music creation in Ableton Live; but then it just kindof morphed into my being depressed and not wanting to bum people the fuck out. But I think that writing in my true current state is actually the key to bouncing back. It allows me to embrace what I’m actually feeling, and it connects me to others who are also low-key feeling the same shit. I think all we really want when we’re feeling low, is to be witnessed. I don’t need help, I don’t need solutions; I just want somebody to be like, “I see you, all the emotions you’re feeling are normal, I love you just as you are.” I think these words could neutralize a hell of a lot of conflict.
But you know, if I get to a point where I’m doing all the things and I still have the sense that I’m not myself—I’ll talk to my doctor about the dang anti-depressants.