For those of you who don’t know, I started taking depression medication last September. I’m very happy to tell you that after seven months we finally found the right kind and got the dose adjusted to what I need. This took such a long time because when the medications took care of one problem another one popped up. I cycled through depression, severe anxiety, and even OCD a few times before my moods finally smoothed out. (It was a lot like playing Whac-A-Mole, only I was both the whacker and the whack-ee. Ouch.)
I tried these kinds of medications several years ago too, and it was lousy experience. I was working at a factory and had decided to take a quality control position that required me to be very vocal and deal with people all day long. In other words, the job required me to be someone I am not. I don’t know what I was thinking, but I do remember the extra money sounded awfully good at the time. Anyway, I thought my shyness and social anxiety were the only things standing between me and that good paying job, so I decided to try taking anxiety medication.
One after another, each drug I tried caused side effects that I couldn’t live with or else didn’t work at all. My doctor finally prescribed one, out of exasperation I suspect, that made me extremely sleepy all the time. After a few months on that drug, it seemed like the stuff was suppressing my creativity and even though I was willing to do a lot to be successful at that new job, I wasn’t willing to sacrifice my joy of creating art.
I quit that job, stopped taking the drug, my creativity woke up again, and my life went along pretty well as long as I didn’t have to do a lot of talking, or be around too many people, or deal with too many new situations. Until last summer. In the middle of that lovely warm season, a huge wave of depression rolled over me and would not leave. I was not that familiar with depression, but I found out that it’s a crushing soul numbing monster to live with.
Eventually I was too depressed to even pick up a pencil and it became apparent that my creativity was at risk again. I had to think long and hard about if it was riskier to try medication again or to wait and see if the depression would lift. Either way it seemed like I was gambling with something very precious. I compromised and tried St. John’s Wort. It didn’t work. I was out of options.
This time around, thank the Powers That Be, we found a medication that works well and the seven months of effort to get here was worth it. Looking back, I think the sleepiness caused by the last drug was the creativity killer and not the drug itself, because this time my creativity has enthusiastically and joyfully increased. Constantly dealing with depression or anxiety takes a huge amount of energy – it’s a lot like trying to run a race while carrying a bag of bricks – and now that I don’t have to deal with them all the time, my creativity has all the energy it needs. My shyness and OCD have improved too, because all these things are related. My load truly has been lightened, and I feel a lightness of spirit that I haven’t felt in a very long time.