Sometime ago I was sitting in my car and heard the above song over the radio. It’s played frequently here in Southern Ontario on 102.1 the Edge, so I had some time to become familiar with it. After becoming a fan, I decided to look up the lyrics online. I’m fairly eclectic in my music taste, but what I desire most is a good sound accompanied by thoughtful and compelling lyrics. The lyrics of this song hit me pretty hard.
As most of you know, I have been on a journey. I’ve come a long way from depression, losing my job and home, boyfriend, and at one point, even my family. I divulge this personal information next in the hopes that sharing it may help others someday: I was a cutter, struggling with a sense of control, and the desire for the courage to make a cut that would end what I considered to be a miserable life. I cut my arm and even burned myself on the stove once to try and stop the feelings choking me from the inside. There are times I am ashamed of this behaviour and other times I am just so proud of myself for overcoming it. I recall the darkest days of my life with this dream-like state that feels out of place and out of time, and yet I know it was real. Days would go by without sleeping and like those days, I was drawn out. There was a terrible burn in my eyes from the endless number of tears and this painful longing in my chest that I could neither identify nor smother.
The day we lost our home.
I had half a book written, sitting and unfinished like my dreams, and lost my passion for life. Writing a book, environmental education, money, whatever, none of it mattered. I was unloved and I did not love– save for my brother and my dogs. When one of my dogs, Raven, passed away, I lost one of my anchors to reality and diminished further. Lucky I still had Faolan and my brother, Lance. Lance drove all the way from Toronto one night, stayed up with me and left in the morning to work a full day when my ex boyfriend decided to move out in the midst of my depression. Unable to cope with myself and what had happened, I had called my brother to say goodbye– and he just would not let that happen. His kindness resonated. It took time, but eventually it took root and started to grow within me.
I will love you forever.
Looking at my dog, Faolan, one day I decided I wanted to live. I thought about what would happen to him if I died and I couldn’t stand the thought of it. Weird, I know, choosing to live for a dog, but then I don’t expect anyone to understand it. It was not just him of course. I thought of some of the people I’d leave behind, though I honestly figured they’d eventually get over it and be fine without me. That’s what happens when you don’t value yourself, but a dog’s love is timeless and I knew I would be taking two lives, not just one.
When I decided to live, I realized I made the harder of the two choices. I needed to get up off the couch, get a job, and take care of myself and my dog. First thing was first, I had to get off the medication I had been put on by my family physician. Apart from tranquillizers and sleeping meds, I was put on antidepressant medication. I am not sure if any of my readers can relate to this, but I was prescribed a medication called Efexxor. While it may have kept me from killing myself and put a stopper in some of my anxiety attacks, it also dulled me. I wasn’t super depressed, but I wasn’t happy either. There are entire websites, forums, and even youtube videos on how terrible that medication is, so I don’t need to go into too much detail, but I knew I needed to get off of it.
Efexxor comes with a host of side effects and withdrawal symptoms. If I was off by an hour I would start to get a headache, then a series of neurological zaps would start, until my entire body ached and my vision began to blur. I was more bed ridden on that medication than I ever was during my depression. It destroyed my libido– I couldn’t stand to be touched, and it made me sweat like a rice-worker working the dry season.
|Image source: http://wendy-nielsen.com/tag/effexor-xr/|
When some time had passed after the break-up, I attempted to socialize and date, but I honestly felt so isolated from human beings and their generally accepted reality, that I pulled away until I weaned myself off the meds. It took me a year. From the forums I read, many people have tried to come off the medication and failed, afraid they’d be stuck with it for life (I know I was), but I want those people to know it’s possible to be free of it. It’s sucks and it’s painful, but it is worth it. I spoke with my Dr. at first and she agreed to bring me down, but she would not take me off completely, so I worked with what I had and did it anyway. We dropped every three months, then a month, until I finally started to open the capsules and empty out the beads. When the last capsule ran out, I never went back to fill the prescription. I wont lie, there was a month where I was literally a vegetable. I couldn’t feed myself, sleep or stay awake, but slowly it got better. One day I woke up and I knew I was free.
When I had originally expressed to my physician that I would like to come off the medication, she was against it. It was based on her experience and coming from a place of concern, not some evil conspiracy. She told me I had a 50% chance of a relapse and yeah, that terrified me, but there was no way I wasn’t going to try. I refused to believe that in order to live I had to be half of myself. Sure, nothing upset me anymore. I didn’t get hurt when someone yelled at me nor did I care if I was being taken advantage of, because everything just rolled right off my chest, but I didn’t get excited and I never laughed. My mind was vacant of happiness, vacant of the pure joy only a med-free human being that fully accepts themselves can feel. I was literally Christian Bale in the movie Equilibrium, minus being female and not trying to survive in a post-WWIII society.
The first time I smiled, truly smiled, in a year, I was watching Faolan with his head out the window. Tongue flapping and his big coyote grin… His pleasure in that simplest of moments gave me the greatest joy.
|I tried to capture that moment, but he turned to look at me|
I was off the medication and living with a girl who’d taken me in after I was turned away by my ex-boyfriend and family. Her kindness sustained me through those months. I am very lucky to have her as a friend. After a few months of rest (thanks to her charity) it was time to get up and get a job to help support myself, my dog, and my writing. It was good to care about things again.
I looked for work and couldn’t find anything in my field. I toyed with idea of going back to school, but the idea of another year without writing was too painful to think of. In time, I found a job at a gas station. An author and environmentalist working at a gas station, I highly doubt I need to elaborate on the irony of the situation. Despite that though, I am taking care of Faolan and I am writing again. The rough draft of my second book is almost finished and I have an audiobook on the way.
So, here I am, off my medication, no relapse, and the happiest I’ve ever been. I’m poor and I’m not some big-shot, best selling author, but I’m writing and I’m trying. I have a place to live, food to eat, and I have friends and I am very, very lucky to have found love again and be loved in return. Like Moulin Rouge, “The greatest thing is to love and be loved in return.” There was a period there where I figured this was it, I was on my own and I was going to have to learn to accept that, so I made do and attempted to be happy anyway. Luckily my temporary lapse into romantic pessimism was wrong and someone beyond even my imagining came along. He expands my heart in a way I never thought possible. He fills in the pieces I didn’t know were missing. I can honestly say that I would do it all over again just to be with him. I could very well write an entire series of posts about him, so I shall stop here, but Goddess am I lucky.
This, all of this, comes to me in the four minutes of that song, because everyday I look to find the beauty, laughter, and joy in the small things in everyday life. I do it to stop my mind from slipping back into the rabbit hole leading to the dark wonderland of my mind and it is a dark place. It’s full of fear, sadness, and anger, and an empty endlessness without equivalent or measure. I was trapped in it for almost two years and I never want to be there again. So when she says, “Nights like this, I become afraid of the darkness of my heart, hurricane.” I think I know exactly what she means. Though for me, while my mind would see the worst, my heart never stopped hoping for the best, and I am very thankful for that.
I must have listened to that song several times a day for a week to come to this conclusion. That’s why I think we need artists, musicians, and writers, because they help us reach a level of ourselves we may not have realized was there. Whoever wrote that seemed to have gone through a similar experience. I had to process it for two years and then I heard her song and was inspired to write about it.