Upon stopping anti-depressants after nine years

The radio played Tina Turner today, and I remembered the month I spent in a Richmond, Virginia, commune at which I was the only straight male except for Lee who was dying of a brain tumor. The year was 1984, and AIDS was just becoming big news. I knew a lot of gay men, many of whom thought the disease was a government hoax to make people hate homosexuals.

Tina Turner was popular among homosexual men and often appeared on MTV. I had never seen MTV until my stay in Richmond, and I was quite taken by it. Some other gay men—in Atlanta—had introduced me to different kinds of gay bars earlier that summer, and I was quite taken by them too. I was at an age and had a body type that appealed to gay men, and I was flattered by the considerable attention I received, but I was never sexually tempted, for which I was very glad when the death toll began to climb.

I thought of all those dead guys today as I listened to Tina Turner, and I was overcome by sadness. Just then, the sun broke through the clouds and glinted off the top of a chain link fence, and I was so touched by its beauty that I had to choke back tears. I had thought my transition from Zoloft was complete since I seemed to have gotten past some hard days, but now, all of a sudden, I am so deeply touched by so many things—sunlight, music, memories, the utter strangeness of existence—that I can scarcely keep from crying. There are a lot of feelings that I haven’t felt for a long time, and I am struck by the fact that I had forgotten I had ever felt them.

If someone saw me crying over sunshine on a fence, he would think I was losing my mind. I can but reflect that normalcy is, by definition, nothing more than whatever is commonplace, and not a condition that is necessarily better or worse than any other condition.

42 comments:

The Bipolar Diva said...

Beautiful.

kylie said...

my dearest snow,
if you want to cry over sunshine i'm glad you are able to see the beauty of it

xx

Becky said...

How wonderful to 'see' the extraordinary in the ordinary, connect with it, and feel!
Wonderful post today, Snowbrush!
Love & Light~
OM girl

ellen abbott said...

They still had communes in 1984?

Anti-depressants are good things in that they serve a good purpose. but they are also bad things because while they prevent you from experiencing the lows of emotions they also prevent you from experiencing the highs of emotions. Crying over the beauty of the sunlight glinting off the fence? Welcome back.

Sonia ;) said...

That was beautiful...Hugs xoxox

CreekHiker / HollysFolly said...

Wow... it sounds like coming out of a fog! I pray I never have to take those things.

Very moving post!

Natalie said...

And one day, my heart just opened up.

To see all the beauty in this world is a gift. It is only abnormal, in the sense that not enough human beings take the time to do it.
Better watch it, you'll end up as soft as Nolly and I, before too long. *wink*.

Snowbrush said...

Thank you, everyone.

Ellen said: "Anti-depressants are good things...but they are also bad things..."

I agree that anti-depressants have their place. I can't even say that I'm better off without them across-the-board. I just got tired of taking them and fearful of the long-term consequences. Drugs are only REALLY tested when they hit the market, and the newer anti-depressants only came out in the '90s, so far as I'm aware.

As for communes still existing in the '80s, they exist even today. Most abandoned that term in favor of some other, but the idea of living together in a community in which property and labor is shared is still very much alive.

Natalie said: "Better watch it, you'll end up as soft as Nolly and I, before too long. *wink*."

Natalie, dear, a person doesn't need to believe in a spirit world or in preternatural miracles to be sensitive. Indeed, an argument might be made that such beliefs detract from an appreciation of this realm by making some other realm appear to have greater depth, reality, or perfection.

Natalie said...

So very true, my friend.
The trick is to appreciate all earthly things and stay grounded, while aiming for the stars.

Bernie said...

My dear Snow, I don't know why but I feel like I have always known you as a sensitive person....I do hope you are feeling better. Be well my friend.....:-) Hugs

The Blog Fodder said...

Glad to hear you make the break.

I've been on Citalopram for a long time. It doesn't do anything for me but when I take it, other people don't act like complete assholes all the time :). Wish I could stop but am scared to. I don't like the side effects and neither does Tanya.

All Consuming said...

It sounds like a wonderful experience to be having Snow. It's good to shed tears over beauty every now and again, there really aren't enough people who do. xx There's something beautiful coming your way soon actually *smiles.

Snowbrush said...

Bipolar, Kylie, Becky, Sonia, and Creekhiker, thank you all so much for your comments earlier today.

Bernie said: "I do hope you are feeling better."

Well, I don't hurt AS much, but I still can't seem to do much physically without paying for it for days or even weeks, and that gets me down.

Natalie said: "The trick is to appreciate all earthly things and stay grounded, while aiming for the stars."

Natalie, I was afraid I had offended you since I didn't really know for sure what you had reference to. I only assumed that it was what you and Nolly are on one side of, and I am on the other, namely a belief in the spirit world.

Blog Fodder said: "I've been on Citalopram for a long time."

Oh, Celexa. I've only heard of it. I suppose you might want to try others if that's all you're getting out of it. I took two of the old tricyclics (actually, I'm on one now but in a smaller dosage for pain) plus Prozac, Wellbutrin...gee, it's late, I'm tired, and I've had a little more vodka than usual, so I can't even remember the rest.

All Consuming said: "There's something beautiful coming your way soon actually..."

Far out. I hope Ken won't miss you miss too much though. Oh, I get it! You're not mailing YOURSELF; you're mailing that large gift of money that I keep asking people to send. That's good too. Of course, I had rather have you, hopeless romantic that I am.

Zuzana said...

Beautiful post.
I cry every day.
I cry when I see flowers in the colours no artist can create, when I see the ocean in that kind of blue it feels magical. When clouds pass the sky on a summer afternoon and when a bird song appears out of nowhere, just when my heart feels heavy and sad.
I pity those who can see all of this and not shed a tear.
xo

C Woods said...

The beauty of nature is almost overwhelming sometimes, isn't it?

Christine Robinson said...

Snow, that's lovely. So wonderful to be inspired by simple beauty. I know those feelings--both the dullness and the inspiration--and am so happy that you can be moved. That's hope.

love,
chris

Realliveman said...

That's the thing about memories. A sunbeam, or a sound, or a flavor or a smell can bring them flowing back into our consciousness and remind us how we felt at the moment. Anyone who thinks someone has lost their mind by having an emotional response to a memory, is someone who does not know how to use their mind.

Marion said...

this post brought tears to MY eyes! Super post, Snow...quiet beauty and memories...

Angela said...

I like it so much when people appreciate sunshine, the song of a bird, a grasshopper, any "normal" beautiful thing. How can you pass by without noticing, actually? I enjoy every day of my life.
If you want to know more about my "German" experiences as a child of a Nazi father, shall I write you a mail? What is your address?
Did you ever hear that the children of "doers" and the ones of "survivors" have almost the same traumata of guilt? Have you read books by Lily Brett? (being the daughter of a holocaust survivor). I would love to have a long chat with her. And with you. Cheers from Angela

lakeviewer said...

Yes, to feel again the things you couldn't, it is a joyful moment.

Marion said...

You have a poet's heart, Snow. I'm glad you're off the Zoloft. I hope you continue to improve. I have a quote at my blog by the artist/poet Brian Andreas that I adore:

"She said she usually cried at least once each day not because she was sad, but because the world was so beautiful & life was so short."
— Brian Andreas

Love & Blessings!!

nollyposh said...

Dear Snowbrush, Welcome to my worlde... It is just your Heart~opening, all is well my Friend (((hugs)))
(Ps) You are a wonderful writer Snow, every post just reaches deeper into my Heart, and that to me is the mark of a really wonderful writer x

Snowbrush said...

Zuzana said: "I pity those who can see all of this and not shed a tear."

Perhaps, they have strengths that they wouldn't otherwise have. The sensibility that you and I share--what I will call a poetic sensibility--is a wondrous quality, but I also suspect it would make me (at least) less able to survive in some situations. I don't know that this is true, but I have long suspected that I would not have been among those who came back from the wartime concentration camps or even the fighting itself. I suspect--although, again, I don't know for sure--that I would have been among those who grabbed hold of the electrified fence.

Victor Frankl seemed to reflect this sentiment when he said that (what he called) the "best people" died. When you look within yourself at your own strengths and weaknesses, can you relate in your imagination to what I am saying?

Marion said: ""She said she usually cried at least once each day not because she was sad, but because the world was so beautiful & life was so short."

I wonder, Marion, if anyone ever cries for joy in the presence of beauty without also feeling a degree of sadness--what one might call poignancy. I do not mean to say that such tears are unfortunate--quite the contrary--but simply that they are not altogether free of grief. In the case of the person quoted, the grief comes from the knowledge that that which is of inestimable value ends only too quickly, and when it ends, it ends forever and ever.

I can find no occasion for joy in such a thought. I can see how it might make the moment more precious, yet that heightened appreciation comes at a very high cost. I would offer the unalloyed joy of a child by comparison in order to illustrate my point. THAT is what joy would look like if heaven were a real place. Instead of being so horribly conscious of time, it would stand aside from finitude.

Snowbrush said...

Nollyposh said: "Welcome to my worlde... It is just your Heart~opening, all is well my Friend (((hugs)))"

I appreciate your affectionate reaching out. Yet--and please tell me if I am wrong--you, and I think Natalie, see me as progressing along a path that you have traveled ahead of me. I vigorously deny that this is the case. It is discouraging to me that you and Natalie and I try so hard to communicate, yet so often misunderstand one another despite our best efforts. But I am also encouraged by the fact that we have never yet become angry much less given up on our friendship. This is extraordinary in my experience.

I took antidepressants for a total of nine of my 61 years. They, especially the Zoloft, helped me immensely in ways that I didn't even expect. However, such drugs both also reduce one's ability to feel things intensely. Now that such feelings have returned, I welcome them, and I am not at all afraid. Neither do I feel that I am progressing in some way. My feeling is more akin to that of someone who had a few drinks and afterwards felt the effect of those drinks go away. He has not changed at a deep level, rather a chemical that was altering his outlook has worked its way out of his system. This is all that I see in the experience.

Marion, Christine, C Woods, and Lakeviewer, thank you so much for your kind and understanding hearts.

Angela said: "I enjoy every day of my life."

Oh, my goodness. Such a statement. I have days when I am overwhelmed by negativity. If they were any worse, I would stay in bed. I envy you. Yet, I can't say that my own sadness is totally regrettable.

I will be touch about your experiences as the child of a Nazi. I had hoped you might blog about them as I can all but promise that you would be telling the children of those on the other side things they didn't know about or had even wondered about, yet things that they would find fascinating.

Realiveman said: "A sunbeam, or a sound, or a flavor or a smell can bring them flowing back into our consciousness and remind us how we felt at the moment."

I have read that the olfactory sense (though weak in humans) is the strongest at reviving memories.

Angela said...

Snowbrush, I answered you on my blog, at least in short. Do you think I could blog about my own experiences as a child? The tornness? The loyalty to my family? The dawning knowledge that things were different from what my parents said (and clearly still believed)? I wonder if I can find words. By the way, my father was not a "high" Nazi, just one of those who were part of it all, a volunteer for the armed SS, proud to be one of the elite - never giving a thought to those who were "on the other side". I could never ever haven an open talk with him, so how can I write about it?

Just_because_today said...

it feels good to "feel" the normal things. To appreciate beauty and to feel sadness.
Beautiful post

rhymeswithplague said...

I cannot speak to the stopping of anti-depressants after nine years or otherwise since I never started taking anti-depressants in the first place. Still, I would say I have had high highs and low lows, a regular roller coaster of an existence (I'm exaggerating just a bit).

Re your saying that the unalloyed joy of a child is what heaven would look like if it were a real place, somebody once said "you must become as a little child"...and I think he was serious. There is a difference between being childish and being child-like.

Snowbrush said...

I write after taking a sleeping pill so am punchy. Hopefully, I can carry on here in some rational form.

Angela said: "Do you think I could blog about my own experiences as a child? The tornness?"

Yes. You have a view that most of the world is unaware of. By contrast with what your men came home to, former soldiers in the US had no bombed-out buildings to come home to, so there was the desire to plunge right back into normal life by going to school, building a career, and owning a house, a car and all the latest appliances. I imagine in this an attempt to refocus away from the horror of war and onto creating a peacetime land of milk and honey.

During the '60, the children of those warriors denounced them as having "sold out" by overemphasizing the importance of acquisitions over spiritual values. For many of these warriors' offspring, war came to be seen as a failure of people working together to solve their issues, and they resolved to devote their lives to peace.

Rather than see their parents as heroes, they saw them as people who didn't try hard enough to find peaceful solutions. Then when Vietnam came along, and students resisted the draft, it was their fathers who fought in WWII and Korea who were outraged. To them, being a good citizen meant answering your president's call to arms, but to their children being a good citizen meant doing everything in your power to make war unnecessarily.

Rhymes said: "somebody once said "you must become as a little child"...and I think he was serious."

I think his goal was for grown people to trust him (Jesus) with the same unexamined trust of little children. This would have meant checking their brains at the door, so to speak, and allowing him to take charge of their lives in the same ways that parents take charge of small children's lives.

Just because today said: "it feels good to "feel" the normal things."

Yes. To simply be present in my life.

julie mitchell said...

Snow, what a beautiful dialog you have opened here...(you do make a difference)...First I need to say I know anti-depressants help many and they did me...but I really believe the way they are advertised is an effort by the government and pharmaceuticals to keep us in the dead zone...that said..
I cry a lot...over the beauty of things...relationships and nature...Glacier Point in Yosemite, which is pretty close to me...always brings tears..makes me feel small in the scheme of things, but also brings me hope and excitement about what life has in store. The feeling that there is something bigger than us..a promise. When I do cry over all the possibilities in this world, I cry because life is too short. I don't think people seeing you cry over sunshine would think you were losing you mind...I think instead they might be jealous that you are able to feel...many don't.
hug, hug

Putz said...

sunshine on my shoulder makes me happy

Angela said...

I just posted a blog post just for you!

JOE TODD said...

Great post Snow. I guess I'm a drug expert in more ways than one. I have experienced similar feelings to what you express. Today for the most part "things" have leveled out in a good way. At one point of time in my life I would call it boring but today I call it a measure of serenity. Have a great one. Yes I golf today. I started about 7 years ago and really enjoy it

Natalie said...

Snow, i certainly don't think that I am one step ahead of you. Quite the reverse, in fact. I was merely meaning that when off anti - depressants,the world is perceived differently. I likened it to a heart opening up, because that is how I experienced it, when I went off them in 2005.
The reason that we don't get angry with each other, is because we all recognise the INTENT behind the language. I think this a sign of a mutual 'sense of humanity' or compassion, which is always a treasured thing.
None of us should leave home without it. :)

Kerry said...

Is it possible that there is a tearful place where joy and beauty meet up with grief and tragedy, and the two are indistinguishable? The sun glancing off of a chain link fence as you listen to Tina Turner might be just such a place. It sounds like you were able to handle it, but I'm sure there are those who can't.

Aleza said...

Sometimes, when I'm down, the sun cheers me up and I know something good is about to happen :)

And memories can make me cry too. Smallest things can make me all teary eyed like looking at smiling babies :)

This is a beautiful post, made me smile (:

Have a good day! :)

Snowbrush said...

Julie, thank you for the beautiful thoughts.

Putz said: "sunshine on my shoulder makes me happy."

I take it that you like that song too. Wrecks me every time, especially when I think of how young John Denver was when he died.

Angela said: "I just posted a blog post just for you!"

I'll be over soon.

Joe Todd said: "At one point of time in my life I would call it boring but today I call it a measure of serenity."

I guess we can all remember how boring our elders once seemed. Our need for stimulation changes though.

Natalie said: "I certainly don't think that I am one step ahead of you."

Thank you, Natalie. Even if you had, I didn't take it that you meant it in an arrogant way. I do think that you--and Nollyposh--often wish that I could see the world through your eyes. I must confess that the same is true of me. You would like for me to get out of my head and into my heart more often, and I would like for the two of you to spend more time in your heads. If I read things into your words that aren't there, it's because other people with a similar orientation to yours often do look down upon scientific types. Of course, the reverse is also true. It is hard to find common ground when people's basic orientation is so different.

Kerry said: "The sun glancing off of a chain link fence as you listen to Tina Turner might be just such a place. It sounds like you were able to handle it, but I'm sure there are those who can't."

Well, I value such experiences highly, so it's not a question of handling them. I suppose though that most people handle whatever they have to handle. For example, people often tell me that they don't think they could bear up under chronic pain the way I do. Well, I don't see myself as being even close to a shining example of handling pain, yet when a persons' only option is death, what can he do but handle a situation to some survivable degree?

Aleza said: "Smallest things can make me all teary eyed like looking at smiling babies :)"

I hope you won't mind, but I got the funniest image reading this. I pictured all these babies smiling at you, and you boohooing to beat the band. Then, of course, the babies would all start boohooing too in regular cryfest. I do understand though. There's just nothing sweeter than new life.

Snowbrush said...

I would encourage everyone to read Angela's post about life in post-war Germany. She shivered as she wrote it, and I could scarcely get through it for crying.

http://lettersfromusedom.blogspot.com/2010/05/post-for-snowbrush.html

KC said...

Dear Snowbrush,
Just a note to say hello and let you know I read every post with interest. I wish you well. KC

nollyposh said...

(Ps) Snow nothing could be further from the truth (re) Me believing that i am spiritually ahead of you in some way, actually that goes against what i believe in completely, so i am sorry if i have come across that way (But hey i seem to be doing a lot of mis-communicating lately sighhhh)...
i sometimes feel intimidated by you Snow, but mostly i feel honored that you bother...
The one thing that i do believe in though is that we cross each others paths for a reason (There i go again!) to teach each other perhaps and this you do so well my Friend x

Snowbrush said...

KC said: " I read every post with interest. I wish you well."

Thank you, KC

Nollyposh said: "Me believing that i am spiritually ahead of you in some way, actually that goes against what i believe in completely..."

Are you saying that everyone is no more and no less spiritually advanced than everyone else? I hope you will see fit to address this.

Since I'm no sure you saw what I wrote to Natalie about that, I'll paste it here.

"Thank you, Natalie. Even if you had, I didn't take it that you meant it in an arrogant way. I do think that you--and Nollyposh--often wish that I could see the world through your eyes. I must confess that the same is true of me. You would like for me to get out of my head and into my heart more often, and I would like for the two of you to spend more time in your heads. If I read things into your words that aren't there, it's because other people with a similar orientation to yours often do look down upon scientific types. Of course, the reverse is also true. It is hard to find common ground when people's basic orientation is so different".

dana said...

Due to a lifetime of horrors visited upon me, I didn't know I was "depressed" since it was the only gear I had. I was given PROZAC and had to use a back scratcher at work, digging at my itching flesh, yet living in WONDER at my new-found inner peace. When I was told I was allergic and had to stop taking it, I answered "Please don't. I'll just get a larger back scratcher" lol.

When the depression returned, I truly knew how much I had, and would continue, to miss in my life.

It is also disconcerting to realize that chemicals in our brain can control how we feel and how we comprehend those things around us.

It leads me to further believe that those who have faith, or have peace believing that god exists for their benefit/ in opposition to those who analyze the available information, are nothing more or less than brain chemicals that allow, or disallow, certain actions, beliefs, and introspection.

If these things can be traced back to chemicals and neurons firing (or mis-firing) in the brain, there HAS to be different "camps" of people always at odds with each other.

Personally, I'm not one to be regimented to the constraints of weekly Bingo, bowling, or attending church: while others are programmed to live for the weekly benefits of others who enjoy similar activities.

Sparx said...

I hope the trip off the Zoloft is a long one. My brief experience with anti-depressants was magical for a moment but then quite a lot of things went dead and I didn't like it.