Celexa, Carol King and Me.
Carol is sort of like the “tear-whisperer”.
Over 2 years ago I started taking Celexa – or Citalopram, as the generic is known.
I like saying Citalopram better – it sounds “practical jokey”. Celexa sounds like a high class luxury vehicle or a blonde socialite I would never have anything do with. “I met Celexa at the club and we parted in my Selexa 99S.” That’s never going to happen – either of those things.
Have I digressed from the real topic of being on an anti-anxiety med? (Pretty sneaky.)
For the uninitiated, this drug of choice is yet another in the class of SSRIs (Selective Serotonin Re-uptake Inhibitors) meant for depression and anxiety. This one was more geared toward anxiety, which apparently I had no shortage of and it was decided that a little inhibiting of my serotonin uptake might be in order.
I decided to do this largely at the urging, or should I say guilting, of my then-wife/soon-to-be-ex-wife/not-sure-what-to-call-her-anymore. I was really against it for various reasons, the least of which was not that I felt that in our over-prescribed society, it was an insult to those who really needed SSRIs to have those of us, like myself, who were mired in more “white people problems”. That being said, given the fact that my wife (at the time) saw this as a problem and I continued to fight against it, I surmised that it was my duty as a good husband to oblige and so I did.
Then, a few months later, I had a ball drop – my wife filed for divorce and I spent the next year unsuccessfully trying to hold onto something that could not be held onto and let’s just say, that didn’t seem like the most opportune time to get off a drug, hell, any drug. Anything that would help me continue to raise my kids, work hard and appear to have it under wraps was just fine with me.
A little over two weeks ago, I traveled to New Hampshire for a week with my kids. It was an excellent week, spending the majority outdoors and really enjoying caves, mountains, swimming and a general devolution from technology. I noticed I was having dizzy spells continually and having trouble sleeping, only to realize that I had neglected to pack the said Citalopram.
Upon realizing this on day three, I made a conscious decision that this was not a coincidence. No, it was “meant to be”. My thinking went something like this: “I am hopefully winding down 2015 with a smaller house, a new “relationship” status on Facebook and if I can squeeze it out, a more clear objective and dare I say, positive outlook on life”. And so the die had been cast.
Except the past two plus weeks have been an amalgamation of exhaustion, dizziness and feeling. Yes, feeling. I didn’t realize how many of my feelings were being moderated by this drug. Don’t get me wrong – I think it was not a bad thing. Being off of an SSRI, for me, is like tasting the cupcake AND the frosting but it is also like feeling the winter cold AND the frostbite.
It is scary for me, to be honest but also revealing that I have to accept that I am a dude who just feels things deeply, for better and for worse. In writing this blog, I am accepting myself. I am trying to be honest and not hide from some exterior version of what people need to see to feel comfortable or worse, what I thought I needed to portray to be exhibited. The shame is not that I was embarrassed to admit that I had taken an anti-anxiety med but rather in that I was too embarrassed to reveal that I am an emotional dude at times and that my struggle is also my strength. That is what I am ashamed of…not taking the drug.
On Sunday, I saw “Beautiful” – the musical based on Carol King’s songs and her life. I don’t remember crying that much since watching “Precious” on a plane back from London while sitting near an Orthodox Jewish guy that got up every 15 minutes to pray. (Man, that flight attendant had no clue what was going on in 15 D and E). But more about that later.
The music was exceptional and the words hard-hitting. I joked that they should have called it “Divorce- The Musical” (which I want to write – as a parody, by the way). I cried for Carol. I cried for the soul she poured into her art, not because she had to but because she had no other choice. I cried for myself and my kids and lost time and new found meanings. I held it in pretty well until the song came I knew was bound to be played -“Too Late”.
I had that same feeling I had while sitting Shiva (mourning) for my grandfather 21 years ago knowing that in a few days, my sister, me, and my parents would all be standing in my grandparents’ driveway heading our separate ways knowing that nothing was ever going to be the same next time we saw each other. Just standing there looking at each other trying to hold it together, knowing for days before that that moment was inevitable.
And it’s too late, baby now, it’s too late,
Though we really did try to make it.
Somethin’ inside has died, and I can’t hide,
And I just can’t fake it, oh, no, no.
The tears came down and I let them just sit there and dry on my cheek, thankful for feeling, for feeling sad – for feeling period.
It’s funny – last night I posted to Facebook for the first time in a while. I said “I’m so tired of feeling like everything has to be ok. Anybody else? Just me?” and I realized that it was taken in a depressing sort of way when really what I was trying to say was “It’s ok to feel and if you really feel, not everything has to be ok because it’s part of life. It’s acceptable. It’s weird if everything is ok, isn’t it?”
So, here I blog to you for the first time in a while, absent of infused substance, other than a glass of red wine by my side, hoping that regardless of your medical regimen, you feel something…anything because living without feeling is safe but it sure ain’t rich. And it’s definitely not too late.
Until next time,