I've been off my antidepressant completely for a little over two weeks now. I know that many of you think that was ridiculously stupid and irresponsible, but it was my choice and I made it. Things may go to hell and I may spend the next however-many months regretting this, and if that's the case you are all free to point and laugh and say I TOLDJA SO, YOU BIG DUMB LOSER. But for now I've made my choice and that's that.
I don't want to make this a post about the pros/cons of psych meds. I think medication is a miraculous thing. My psychiatrist made a believer out of me after months and years of me refusing to take anything (see this post and this post). And in many ways, Celexa made me functional after crippling anxiety had turned me into this unstable, miserable, unrecognizable shell of myself. But I do want to write about some of the things I've noticed since the drug has gotten out of my system.
I've always heard people say that they felt "numb" on antidepressants, or couldn't feel anything, or were totally zoned out to their emotions. That was never my experience. What Celexa did for me was cause the underlying hum of panicky/obsessive thoughts to ease off. And that hum has reemerged a tad, although not unmanageably so. But what I've really noticed since coming off the drug is that I am feeling more. Not in a bad way; just deeply and more viscerally.
I find myself welling up with emotion more frequently. Again, not in a bad way. Mostly in a good way. Just intensely and meaningfully. Like I have so much capacity for emotion inside of me that has suddenly been awakened and needs an object.
For example: one of my old friends recently sent me a link to a violin recital I performed in high school, and I was completely overwhelmed. I forgot what it was like to have this purely artistic outlet. I forgot how much I loved it. There are videos of me playing all over YouTube so this wasn't anything new, and this particular performance wasn't anything special (intonation was a tad off...) but it struck me somewhere deep in my heart and my gut, and suddenly I couldn't imagine how I had survived the past four years without playing music. I forgot what it was like to have this creative, passionate pursuit that had no purpose other than providing beauty and joy.
Also: watching the World Cup, I couldn't make it through the national anthems (no matter who was playing....) without my eyes welling up and a giant lump forming in my throat. I couldn't watch teammates celebrate and hug and cry without instinctively wanting to reach out and hug them myself To put this in context, I DO NOT FOLLOW SOCCER. I pretty much had no idea who was who, which color went with which country, which players were stars, what counted as a foul, anything. In fact, I didn't even know the World Cup had started until about two weeks in. More importantly, I did not care. I had no skin in the game, no money on the outcome, no particular sense of national pride in the US team (although I did develop a liking for Brazil). But just seeing how much those guys cared made me care, and deeply. I realized that I wanted to care; I wanted to want something that badly, because that sense of intense, motivating emotion felt new and important and meaningful.
I had never thought Celexa made me numb, but now I'm wondering if it did. That's not to say it wasn't worth it, because that drug probably saved my life. But suddenly everything around me seems to have more meaning, and my emotions seem more powerful and physical.
Maybe I'm just bored. Maybe this is just what it is to be 23 and single and needing a hug, my whole adult life ahead of me without a clear idea of where I'm going. But something seems to have shifted in the past few weeks, and suddenly I feel awake, like I've remembered what it is to feel, and what it is to care. And now I want something to care about. I am realizing it's been a long time since I've felt truly passionate about something, and have been able to pour my emotions fully into something. For so long I've been thrashing and kicking just to keep my head above water; just to survive the day-to-day. I feel like this deeper, emotional part of me has been lying dormant, and I want it back.