September 8, 2010
Better Living Through Chemistry? Moi?
In July and August I was de-pressed. Really really down. In June quite by accident resulting from bug that flew in my eye, I found out I had a serious case of ‘ago=e-related wet macular degeneration.’ I had a case of irreverseable blindness in my left eye, the kind that usually affects folks I consider ‘really old’ in their 80’s or 90’s (*#!+*!). I had literally nothing on my ‘to do’ list. That’s something my type-A-spinning-six-plates-at-once self often dreamed of; but the reality of being ‘re-tired’ early by budget cuts and no teaching hit me hard.
On some of those dreary cold foggy summer days on this mysterious Monterey Peninsula I didn’t even want to get out of bed. The usual intensity, enthusiasm and energy my friends remark about, seemed gone. Yes, I had thoughts about death. I didn’t come even close to thinking about taking my own life … but I wondered what would happen if I did. You know, who’d come to the funeral and all that. I began to lose faith in my writing dream. I surmised my contribution to the planet was done. I’d taught sexuality and women’s health for years, and amassed plenty of tales from former students of how I’ve changed their lives. Wasn’t that enough?
In late July I got a ‘sort-of’ rejection letter from the NYC publishing strategist/cum agent, about Invisible Grandparent that almost paralyzed me. She complimented my writing skills, the concept & my ability to promote it; but said it needed stories besides my own to be sold to a ‘trade market publisher.’ Aaaah, that hurt. After the six months of grueling work I’d done to get the website and book proposal in shape; I was tired. Tired of being poor. Penniless. When my lovely wonderful sexy talented 61 year old techy HUS-band got his 99th and final unemployment check near Labor Day, it threw me further into a tailspin. I’d heard enough of his ‘just keep praying baby, we’re always taken care of.’
I was sooo profoundly tired of dancing the edge of financial poverty that I was pulling what little hair I do have out. Tired of knowing what it was like to wonder where the money to fill the gas tank would come from. Way tired of not shopping, even for food, and having to total what I did/could spend when I did. I was barely able to put one step in front of the other, but I made it to Tai Chi on Tuesdays, and swam most others doing the mantra I’ve done for ten years with each stroke: “I am centered in spirit, rooted in faith, grounded in god, and supported in style.” Was I? I kept doing my ‘service,’ seeing hospice clients once a week because it felt better to focus on someone else’s problems … but I needed help.
Help as in therapy. So god-bless being 65 and having Medicare: my new doctor suggested a woman MFCC that took it. When I saw her I liked her enough. She seemed a peer: East coast born and bred, suggestions of books I could read or had read, familiar with Charlotte Kasl’s work in 16 Step empowerment solutions to codependency and addictions, she even hinted ata history of hallucinogenic experiences in the 60’s herself. She suggested that I might be ‘mildly bi-polar,’ and medication might help.
Me, the feminist anti-pharma/medical-industry health educator? Me, take one of those SSRI anti-depressants that I consider the opiate of the masses, or worse, something else to handle problems rather than ‘do it myself?’ Nah. Though I knew some people who truly were chemically imbalanced and needed prescription drugs in order to survive, I didn’t need anything did I? Did I?
I just needed to get away. A road trip to a women’s conference in sunny Albuquerque was what I needed, not drugs. I remembered the’93 Datsun 240Z in my garage. That car was rusting thin while waiting to be restored anyway. Larry’d never get to it. It had been a reckless purchase I’d made in my forties, closely connected to an old boyfriend who has since left the planet. I actually sold the car for $500 to get myself to Crones Counsel. Nah, to get away was the answer, not medication.
But when the new shrink asked what the resistance was really about, and whether fighting things like this was a pattern, I made the appointment with what she said was an ‘old guard’ MD psychiatrist “to explore the issue.” Maybe I was ‘mildly bi-polar.’
“Old guard?” I said, “or did you just mean old?”
“Both,” was her reply.
“At least it’d be good screenplay material,” I told myself.