Rowlandson The-English-Dance of Death detail

Coming off the meds

A not quite journal about trying get through a time of ups and downs with no chemical assistance for the first time in several decades. The laughter, the tears, the bewilderment and the hope

The author at the Prado in Madrid looking over metal slab, on his face is visible. It is in black and white, the rest of the room in colour.
The author in Madrid at the Prado.

I’ve been off the depression meds for a week now while I wait for the new ones to be prescribed. It’s the first time since about 1994 that I’ve not been anti-depressantly assisted.

Just to clarify something before we get going: I’ve been on many and varied forms of anti-depressant since the early 1980s. Everything from lithium (my first brutal coach)to Prozac all the way forward Prozac again but this time under its original cool 80s name of Fluoxetine. That’s the fella who’s being retired because I need a change, I need some rest.

Apparently the fluoxetine isn’t conducive to sleep. What is though these days, reader? In these days of sourdough starters, Covid-19, and Brexiteer madmen, what helps sleep to come? That’s a serious questions by the way, from this bent, old mind to you lovely, med-free civilians.

The chronic insomnia of the previous 18-20 months (average 2 hours per night) hasn’t been ‘helpful’ to the old mental state or the physical girth, or the mood.

The problem is that I’ve had to completely come off the old med and now I’m waiting to hear back from the GP who has plenty of other things to be getting on with other than a moody, grey haired, stout party who’s a bit of a downer to be around.

Rowlandson The-English-Dance of Death detail

I don’t know how I feel, which is a state that I’ve often with associated with normalcy or normality, whichever of one those is real. 

That’s one of the reasons for sticking with the chemicals – they sit you down and tell you just exactly where you are and why. 

The chemicals don’t judge, they set you right. But on their terms like the hulk of a police chief who can’t work you out yet but knows you’re (me) a good guy if only he can get to you. 

“Life’s not to be questioned, detective”, the meds say in the manner (right now) of that gruff but loveable police chief who wants you to win but has his doubts. After all, you’re (I’m) the only one who can save me from your (my) own demons. 

The chief will return your badge and gun but only after you solved your (my) own damned case in twenty three hours and fifty eight minutes. 

But now the chief has left, and we (I) are waiting for the replacement. 

Thankfully I’m also exiting the fictional precinct house because my imagination can’t sustain it and rather than it being the gritty reality of Hill Street Blues it’s turned into a dirty shade of Z-Cars and Brooklyn 99.

What remains is fear.

Fear is front and centre at the moment. Fear of the unknown or rather the long forgotten. I’ve some idea of how I used to be but that idea is fuzzy and not like logic or the head of a baby. Connections are firing off all over what remains of my brain, or my imagination, which I suppose must lay in the brain somewhere or other. 

Unlike the soul. 

Rowlandson The-English-Dance of Death detail

Sooner or later these connections will destroy any sense I have. They are firing off like artillery rounds before dawn and the trenches are rushed over and in by doomed young men before the fun of the 1920s and the despair of the 1930s take their stabs at destruction– will round on me. 

That’s when all the fun stops, and the serious business begins. When this happens life takes some pretty slow and nauseating turns down some dreary corridors let me tell you. One moment you’re – I’m, we all know I’m talking about me here, so the distancing trick is a foul contradiction of normalcy or normality, whichever of those faded beauties is the most real right now.

There’s also adrenaline – so much adrenaline. That stuff usually makes itself known in the evening. It’s the guest who brings the fun, the fun, the fun just when you want the sleep, the snuggles and the rest. 

The adrenaline wants to save you (me, of course me, you’re content and stable, you’re nice) from death. As we all know, sleep is a close cousin of death but with the fear removed. 

Who knows if you dream after you die? Anyway, sleep – not a friend of adrenaline, which just won’t shut up. 

“Let’s party!”, it screams at my muscles, “But only somewhere safe! Keep your eyes and ears open man! Never rest or that’s it! You’ve outlived your dad, just about, man, by a few months, not by sleeping or relying on your own brain. His exploded man, because he took his eyes of it. He stopped concentrating, man. I won’t let that happen to you”. 

Good old adrenaline. Always there for me.

I pause and breathe as much as possible.

All this isn’t helping anybody, not the chief, not me, no one. 

It’s quite possible that the phone call from the doctor will come tomorrow, which is a Saturday so think again.

It’s quite possible that Monday’s the day. The new chief is appointed and normalcy or normality is renewed.