March 04, 2015:
As the first rays of the sun shone down the window-glass, I hastily sat up in my chair, wondering why I had fallen asleep at the typewriter. The table was strewn with bits and pieces of crumpled paper with words that refused to make any sense to me. After about a minute of haze, a part of it slowly came back. I had been thinking furiously the night before. And thinking too hard, for me, always leads to severe confusion. My therapist tells me it’s here to stay for a while, at least as long as the withdrawal period remains. On that note, I’m seriously glad I’m off my psych meds and getting better every day.
But withdrawal is even more difficult to handle than depression itself. It’s also gradual and there’s this continuous pressure of staying strong. Deal with the bursts of headache. Deal with the suffocating dearth of chemical comfort. Deal with regular, expected interactions with people you love (or perhaps, used to love, who can tell?) and do not fuck them up just yet. Deal with the entire day, five minutes at a time. Deal with life without any fallback options – just like ‘normal healthy humans’ do.
The only problem remains: I’m not a normal, healthy person yet – just the shadow of one; en-route to becoming one of course (thankfully), but just not there yet. Insomnia returns, occasionally. Fears return, occasionally. The shroud of black returns occasionally. The medicines can’t. That’s all.
And that’s what makes a world of difference.
I’m learning to stand back up on my legs, but they seem to be made of jelly now. The therapist smiles when I tell her this and says, “Well, at least they’re not fluid anymore.”
“That’s the point,” she says, “Hardening over time. Gathering strength on the go.”
There’s a poster in my room which says, “Vires acquirit eundo.”
Apart from giving me more than enough strength to get through the day with a smile, it also serves to remind me of Melbourne, the one place I would love to visit alone someday soon.
But at least initially, withdrawal is not going down very well with me. Just yesterday, I was out with perhaps the only three peers whose existence makes sense to me and I have glorious memories of the entire day right from brunch to a golden evening on the grass. And just today, I woke up with a chest feeling so tight, I could neither breathe, nor walk. I have issues with my temper, which is a first. I completely abhor being angry: I feel like I’m not in control of my own mind and I know I’m being horrible, mean and spiteful without being able to do anything about it. I am told that this is just a symptom of my body getting acclimatized to a drugless existence.
I often find myself wondering whether someone should have to go through this – five years of struggling with debilitating pain and loss of control over their own mind. Things sometimes fall apart, to mirror my mind – my phone, one of my computers, the water pump at home.
Someone told me this is all a panic attack. I can’t be see-sawing like this because this doesn’t let me function, let alone work.
On days such as these, I feel like such an impostor in a world of adults. Some people barely a couple of years older, are already getting married now! And here I am, in the middle of nowhere, unable to breathe well!
I went home through a gorgeous sunset today; the sky fell to the horizon in a gradient of blush and the colors made me very happy, and somehow, feel better about my life.
But then again, the night wasn’t easy; everything that I’d started being on my meds for came rushing back – the apathy, the sadness, the raging guilt and anger. All of my resolve was dissolved in an hour. But I’m also going to see if I can learn how to cope with things better; that’s what they teach at therapy too: Coping, handling, finding some degree of strength and grace in the face of a difficult event.
I just want to be able to breathe again and be in less pain. Is that too much to ask?
I read this diary entry today, after almost a year of writing it.
And I realized withdrawal symptoms never really changed after all: either from medicines, or from caffeine, or from alcohol, or from nicotine.
Or from you.
But this time around, there’s no therapy. And the want to be able to breathe again and to be in less pain will always be too much to ask for.