lexapro, day one. sept 1st.

strange and weird is an understatement for how i am feeling today.

i woke up hopeful. swallowing a doubly expensive pill because of my insurance woes at 10 this morning. in an effort to change myself and my life for the better. to quiet the noise in my head. to slow the racing thoughts. to decrease panic. to minimize mood swings. to level out. to be less overwhelmed, and more motivated to do something – anything, really.

i forgot it was the first, and i'd planned to start the medication on saturday, but decided not to put it off one more day, and to start on the first for some odd reason. seemed like a good idea at the time.

the instructions stated that it will take a month to kick in and feel a difference. the shrink is glad i'm trying it, but told me that it is a six month to a year long committment, which really almost scared me out of taking it.

but halfway through my session, i decided. i told her that i'd decided on my drive back from florida with brownies that i should do it. and that i got back and had a good week, before slipping back into bad weeks. and she said that's the misconception about depression and anxiety. you can have good weeks mixed in with bad ones.

in talking about my life events in the last month, she said that i already live a very high stress life, and have, and will. and that i've been through a lot in the last two years. and said that i need to think of this as a cup filling. all the stress of the divorce put some liquid in the cup. and then the house added to that, and family stuff, and work had taken me to the brink. and then this last loss was what it took to make the cup overflow. the drug will help drain some of the contents of my cup. and will help me get to a point where i can start emptying some of it out myself, in time. i won't have to worry about it overflowing (if all goes according to plan) and eventually my cup will remain half filled/empty, and as stress piles back in, i won't be paralyzed with anxiety while i watch it overflow.

we'll see.

this morning i took it after having about half a cup of coffee. i was nervous bellied about it, didn't get much sleep last night, and woke up worrying. but instead of letting that convince me to wait a day, it motivated me to take it, so i'm one day closer to not waking up like that.

and i got ready for work, and got back onto my bed.

i had a lot of work to do at home before leaving for the stores and delaware. it was a beautiful day out, and i was happy to be driving. until i hit traffic about ten minutes from the house. and more traffic twenty minutes after that. and still more twenty minutes after that. my thought for today was, 'sometimes you can only go as fast as the person ahead of you'.

i was feeling spacey almost immediately. and i guess being aware of the fact that you're taking a brain drug for anxiety can riddle you with more, out of fear and worry that it won't work, or that your body won't acclimate easily, or for me, that i'll be stuck on this for the rest of my life.

and i tried to quiet that stuff, to keep from panicking. it felt an awful lot like the old days of dropping acid, to immediately wonder if you're in the mindset to drop, and wait with a belly full of tangles for the shit to kick in.

i tried to positive talk myself mentally while i drove. 'it's okay. you won't feel anything for a month. you're going to feel better soon. everything is going to be okay. pretty soon, you won't worry or obsess or ruminate so much. take a deep breath. just drive. get where you're going. and keep moving forward.'

but by noon, my hands were shaking, i was feeling racy and stomach-sick. she'd told me it was okay to take an ativan if i felt uncomfortable, so i did. i'd taken an allergy pill when i got up to combat the congestion i've been dealing with for a few days now. and i think the coffee and the belly full of pills was not good for me. i don't want to take pills to combat pills, and the thought that i had a belly with pills floating in it was making the situation worse.

luckily, i didn't get sick. i still haven't eaten today. nothing sounds good. nothing sounds like it would settle my stomach. nothing looks good. not even shitty fast food, which is usually the perfect answer.

i'm hoping that it goes away soon, because i have to eat something. but i keep alternating feeling sick with being hungry. i ate enough yesterday to last a few days, but that is neither here nor there.

i had a hard time speaking today. forming sentences. completing thoughts aloud. focusing on anything, particularly driving, which is a horrible feeling, when you're stuck in three separate traffic jams, and wind up in a car for a few hours.

shaky hands. shaky legs. wobbly body. slower judgments. everything today took FOREVER. i felt very scattered, and more than once had to go back and redo something because i forgot half of what i was trying to do.

i just felt slow. getting ready, doing the work from home. getting every place i was trying to go, except, luckily, for the drive home. sorting through things in delaware. everything. or as kim is in the habit of saying right now, from hyperbole, 'all of the things'.

but somehow i managed to accomplish most of what i set out to do today.

i had to put off some pretty important things, cutting myself a break, because i was an overachiever this week and got a shit ton of work done in preparation for back to school traffic and business next week. i probably had worked all of my hours by lunchtime today, but kept going, and will continue to tomorrow.

had i been thinking clearly, i would have spent today working on more things from home, and had a full day in delaware tomorrow. but now i have two days worth of stuff to do, and i'm halfway done.

i drove home feeling strange. one part sad. one part nervous. one part heady. one part slower. one part cloudy. one part shaky. i'm in one of those phases where i check everything three times. i have a list. did i do that? can i cross it off? stay focused. cross things off. and keep to yourself, and try not to talk a lot. write everything down when you think it. and then don't forget where you wrote it. and then don't lose the list.

i tried to talk as little as possible today.

because when i'm quiet, i don't feel so strange. but when i open my mouth to speak, it's like i've developed a stutter or something. nonsensical things pour out. and there are long pauses while my brain matches subject to predicate.

i'm going to feel better soon. that is my mantra for september. and my optimism is telling me that, by the time aubree gets back, even if it's just for a visit, in october, i'll be up for a weekend in new york, and social outings with friends. i'll be up for housework. i'll have burned through all of the internet tv and won't have the desire to lay around and watch things in an attempt to shut off my brain, which is only ever a temporary solution and a profound waste of time. one that drops my brain right back off at the start when the credits roll.

yesterday, i came back from running work errands and popped in my netflix movie. one day, i'll think to read the little blurbs they write about movies before i watch them. i hate spoilers, so usually, i'll watch something based on who is in it, and intentionally not read the synopsis. i happen to love joseph gordon-levitt. mostly thanks to 500 days of summer. but there was a movie i watched a couple months ago that he was in, that was fucked up. and i still didn't learn my lesson. and found something else he was in. i watched 'mysterious skin'.

really really rough. and like always, i'm stubborn about finishing what i start. so ten minutes in, when i knew where it was going, i kept watching, until the end. buckle up if you watch it. two themes: pedophiles and teenage prostitution.

just awful. so fucked up.

but i finished that and sealed it up, feeling relieved that it was over, and kept working.

something really fucked up happened, right after that.

i was home from work early, i had a lot to do for work, but from home on my laptop. i didn't much feel like running errands, but didn't want to put them off, so i made myself go. came home, worked some more.

it's never unusual to hear sirens in phila. all day, all night, randomly. busier streets have more. the street i'm on now and the one from the apartment i shared with ever were frequent. halfway house apartment and the one i lived in alone, not as much.

i thought nothing of the ambulance, and plugged along.

two hours later, after the movie, mike got home from work and called out to me from the front door.

there was a sound in his voice that set off little warning buzzers in my brain.

'did you see what's going on outside?'

i said no, and dan and i followed him outside to the stoop.

a block up from my house, on my street, everything was cordoned off with police tape. crime scene units, tons of cops in cars and vans, news camera crews on all sides, one camera pointed in our direction. and of course, every neighbor trying to see what they could see for two city blocks.

the commissioner was even there.

a mother had killed her two children in their home. one block away.

word on the streets: she shot them on sunday. and they were all inside until yesterday at four, when the ambulance showed, and the flurry began.

i don't know the story. i don't like to watch the news. but i'll look it up online to see how much of what was said was true.

but how fucking FUCKED UP is that? killing children? i cannot fathom.

(she stabbed them, the grandmother came home and found them. twelve and eight. the rest was accurate)

and that experience on the stoop two short days after dan moved in led to a conversation about street smarts, and crime and violence in the city. and i'm pretty sure he was horrified.

i did my best to tell him that i only feel safe because the crime is almost always targeted. drug dealers and thugs taking each other out and the like. but mike kept saying things to detract from that.

and after we all sat outside and smoked and talked for a long time, we went back inside, making our dinners and going our separate ways. and that ill feeling didn't pass for a while.

* * *

i don't know. the last few hours since i started this felt normal. and now? back to weird. uneasy, but not bad. it's all in my gut. that sinking feeling you have when you get bad news. i hate that feeling. i live with that feeling often, because of all the worrying, panicking. but this is that feeling without the panic. it's like the aftermath. calming down, and feeling drained, depleted, empty. but still sick.

in an effort to not be a complete retard, i had one beer when i came home, with dinner. i really want another, because that is my habit. but if i want this to work for me, i'm going to have to save two beer nights for weekends and special occasions.

i thought today about trying to quit smoking. it was fleeting. i know it's awful, and expensive. but, like my ramen dinners, it's comforting.

today, all that driving, i'd normally have killed a third of a pack by the time i got home, maybe more. today i had half as many, because of the feeling in my stomach. it's not uncommon for antidepressants to accidentally help people quit smoking who didn't set out to.

and what's more, after a day of not being able to eat, one beer would normally set me a little off-kilter. but not tonight.

it's most likely in my head, but i am wondering if reuptake inhibitors keep alcohol and cigarettes from achieving desired effects.

maybe that long list of side effects will include some positive ones as well. cutting back on things that have exceeded beyond most people's idea of moderation for me personally won't be a bad thing. it's something i have known i wanted to do for a long time, but just couldn't.

having a few drinks to relax and fall asleep at night, smoking and thinking, smoking and trying not to think, they became my comforts when i left ever, and during all the rough patches since.

but i think that as long as i'm taking such a drastic measure to make myself feel better, knowing the things that don't make me feel better, and trying to ease up on them a little, seems like the right accompaniment.

smoking might be a little harder to squash. and i'm not by any stretch of the imagination saying that i'm trying to quit.

this entire process is going to be about breaking associations. taking back all the things that i experience daily, that have made me sad enough to cry when i happen into them, is the start of it. today i hit a few songs on the road that normally would make me skip them, because i just can't sit through them. because of where they make my head go. and call it my psychology background and training, but i made myself sit through them today, some little version of exposure therapy. and my mind went there, but i didn't cry. baby steps.

next will be baseball games on tv. i've missed quite a bit, in an effort to not think about who i'd rather be watching or attending them with. mike said last night that it's ridiculous to let someone take away an entire sport. and he was right. it sounds absolutely asinine. all the things like that, i need to start taking them back. the drives past the exit, the cars i'm stuck on the road with.

one day it won't matter anymore that once they stood for something very different. once they made me smile while i passed them. and i'll be better when they don't make me sad anymore. it will take a long time to get there, and it starts with averting my eyes now, which i've been doing for a few weeks. eventually, i won't even see them. i know this from my past.

all of the music was different just a few short months ago. and in a little while longer, they won't make me embarrassed and sad anymore. they won't make me feel such strong regret for getting swept up in things and carried away before i was so violently dropped.

they won't make me want to waste time. they won't make me wish time away. they won't make me feel the desire to be un-alone. and they won't make me sad to be alone.

the shrink said this is, at a minimum, a six month commitment. that she'd prefer a year. and that most people, after that time has passed, don't want to live without the drug, because they don't prefer their life before it.

and despite the fact that i knocked the dust off of my dating site profile today, maybe three months is a smart window to tell myself that i will not actively pursue a relationship of any variety. six months would probably be better, but i don't want to set myself up for failure.

because it turns out that i crave that attention. that interaction. i want to curl up with someone so badly. in three months it will be much cooler than it is now, and i think that six would just mean another unbearable winter. and at the risk of picking up where i left off with some other undeserving guy, i don't think it's safe to play in those waters right now.

things are starting to make a little more sense to me, when i step out of the cloud of that boy, and just put him aside. i was drowning in there. i have been. past tense isn't even appropriate, because several times a day, i go right back there again.

but to know that it is over, and that i can't imagine a future where it doesn't stay that way, it's giving me a little clarity, and i'm grateful for that.

i fell hard and fast. and i fell after being persuaded to jump. i'll be smarter next time.

because, really, that's all i can ever do.

with new scars and bruises. rebuilding that wall that i so smartly built for a year. i learned it the hard way once already, so the second time around should be a little easier.

is that optimism? i'm calling the placebo effect. but there it is, regardless.

happy pill. day one. done.

i survived, mostly without incident.

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