“But I don’t want to go among mad people,” Alice remarked. “Oh, you can’t help that,” said the Cat. “We’re all mad here. I’m mad. You’re mad.” “How do you know I’m mad?” said Alice. “You must be,” said the Cat. “or you wouldn’t have come here.” –Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland
I laid in bed this early morning (it’s 4 am in my neck of the woods) thinking about the summer I turned nine.
There’s no real reason for it except I drank too much cola at supper and couldn’t sleep. Yes, sometimes I do things a six year old would do….Perhaps it’s just plain ol insomnia.
It was a pretty big year.
My little brother and I spent alot of time with my grandparents in a small Newfoundland town, doing what kids do: playing on the beach, spotlight in the forest, swimming, baseball games, it was pretty idyllic. And then it wasn’t too.
It would have been 1987 and our parents were divorcing and it was the first time I could remember visiting my mother in a psychiatric hospital.
She was moving half speed and seemed unable to keep her eyes open.
A while later she would show me the scar on her neck where she tried to hang herself and was unsuccessful. Our relationship was always turbulent, to say the least. I loved her and she suffered alot, it seemed through the eyes of her child.
Then there’s me, I was not left alone either.
My entire life, I cannot remember a time when I didn’t feel a persistent undercurrent of depression. Not just ‘blue’ a ‘funk’ or ‘the blahs’ but a persistent, to quote Melvin in As Good As It Gets, ‘what if this is as good as it gets?’
I tried so hard to run, to try a non-prescription, holistic method, then the alcohol and illegal drug method, the bury it method, the eat my feelings method, the meditation, exercise, vegetarian method, talk therapy, and the final, worst taboo for me = anti-depressants.
Some people think doctors give these meds out as though they kept them in a bubblegum machine in their offices. That’s ok. I’m not here to rail against others’ preconceptions.
For me, it was the last confirmation, I was indeed, ‘crazy’ like my mom, her mom, all the siblings, my brother, the entire clan.
I was brainwashed into believing it was a personal weakness, a flaw of character if you will. But medication…medication saved my life.
Before then, I thought the people I met saw me the way I saw myself, socially awkward, shy, weird, ugly, unlikeable, too quiet, maybe too loud, unworthy of friendship or sometimes, even respect.
This past couple of years has been the best of my life. I accepted medication, to take it daily, no matter how excellent or horrible I feel and it was the best decision I have ever made.
If there’s someone you know, maybe it’s you that’s scared that you’ll be thrown into the cuckoo’s nest or checking into the funny farm, I strongly recommend, when you’re ready, when you’re strong enough, ask for help, see a doctor, be your own hero.