Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Lester Flatts, Earl Scruggs, and Drugs

Once long ago I heard Lester Flatts and Earl Scruggs do a song on "The Beverly Hillbillies."  The song, "Can't Have Your Kate, and Edith Too" is about a guy who, clearly, wants to be with two ladies at once.  Maybe not at the exact same time; I don't know what kind of things Lester and Earl were into.  But in its way it's a timeless song, hitting on the nature of love and relationships.

I've been having panic attacks, bad ones.  I've also been depressed for quite a while.  So yesterday I went to the doctor and she put me on Paxil.  Now, I've never taken any kind of drug to treat depression.  I suppose I always thought that I didn't need them.  Maybe I should have taken them years ago; I don't know.  In any case, I'm on them right now, as I type this.  On top of the Paxil the doctor also gave me Adivan, which is much stronger than I anticipated.  I took half a Paxil and an Adivan yesterday afternoon, and more or less lost the day to a haze.  Today as an experiment I took only the half tablet of Paxil.  I still feel spacey.  Maybe it is "hangover" from yesterday, maybe it's the pill, maybe it's just me.  I don't know.  At least I slept last night.

Back to Kate and Edith and Lester and Earl; these pill make me wonder if I'm in a similar situation.  Specifically, can I have my brain (which we'll call "Kate") and my medications ("Edith," if you will)?  Can I still be the same person I was once I've altered my brain chemistry?  I don't know.

I think the depression really took hold when my cousin Ryan died.  He was like a brother; we were raised together, often in the same room.  We went through the same crazy family and home situations.  He was only eight months younger than I am, and he died from a massive heart attack back in November, right on his living room floor.

This event changed me.  It made me sad and angry and bitter.  I was angry because he died, having never heeded any advice about diet and exercise and stress.  I was so angry that he died that I didn't grieve for him, not until just a few nights ago.  It was long overdue, and it helped me.  Not only in getting over a death, but in learning to let go of misplaced anger.  To deal with things.  I'm very slowly learning to deal with things.

And now I'm on Paxil, and my fear is that it will just bury the things I haven't dealt with yet, but need to deal with to get out of my self-imposed mental cages.  In exchange, I'll be in a better mood and not suffer panic attacks.  But at what cost?  A lot of the things that this drug treats are also aspects of my personality.  I'm quiet, reserved, almost painfully shy.  Will that change?  Will it change my thoughts and attitudes towards social conventions and behavior, between right and wrong?  I just don't know.

I suppose that it is a risk I'll take, at least for the short term.  Maybe it is an important step in learning to let go of the idea of control, maybe it is a clean solution to not allowing myself to be happy, or maybe it's a huge mistake.  The only certain thing is that I can't remain the same person I always thought I was supposed to be.

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