The ageing author in black and white - trying to be moody.

The new meds bite

In the continuing story of change: the new medication and its side effects are harsh – but it’s my wife you’ve got to feel sorry for. Boy is this a slog for her. Onwards to the tunnel’s end!

I started the new anti-depression drug (Mirtazapine) recently. One of the many side-effects is (increased) anxiety. I can certainly support that.

Even writing this is filling me with dread.

I’m told that this angst will pass as soon as my brain adapts to this new drug and finally farewells the Fluoxetine it had known for so many years. Right now, however, the wake from the previous night’s dreams of house fires, alienation, crowds, humiliations, horrific accidents, my own incompetence, and my all encompassing redundancy is engulfing me and is real.

I don’t think I’m going to be able to listen to Marc Bolan or Brahms again for a long, long time.

Of course this is the thing with cures (or attempted cures), they come with their own price tags. Anybody who has ever had, or ever been close to someone who has gone through chemotherapy, will vouchsafe that statement with bells on. Anybody who has had their tonsils out and has had to wait for the ice cream (and jelly), anybody who has had a gangrenous leg amputated at the height of battle with only half a cricket bat to chew on… you understand I’m sure.

So, at this moment – which is a moment in the middle of the many hours it’s taken to weld this piece of writing together from the fragments that I’ve deemed not shit – I am scared of actually going to sleep again in case the spirits (head chemicals) of anxiety-fuelled night terrors return to convince me of my worthlessness in the face of too probable catastrophe. Even my physical self feels weighted, old, broken and raw. My skin stripped and laid out in front of me to watch the fire ants mark their paths home.

All side effects of the cure. All passing, even the shortness of breath and sensation of the constriction of my own fracturing ribs against by slowly desiccating heart.

Given that I’ve taken to Mirtazapine as a weapon against insomnia, this state of affairs – and what a state it is – is amusing or it will be once my brain rights itself and makes nice with the drug. Soon I hope, very soon.

When it comes to down to my nutty bolts though, it’s my wife you have to feel sorry for. She has to put up with this bullshit in real life. Don’t misunderstand me, I didn’t hide my highly suboptimal condition from her when we met and fell immediately and then over time in mutual laughter and joy in each others company.

No, I’ve not suddenly dropped my occasionally infuriating lack of life on her like the carpet bombing a school of innocents in the name of peace, justice and medals. I announced it in advance, warned her off. Sounded the alert loudly. And with some sense of self-defence if cards are slammed on the table – or dealt on the counselling couch.

The author in black and white on day 3 of mirtazapine

{One of the things about long-standing depressives is that we definitively identify ourselves with our state. We are our depression because… what else are we without it? Empty or at best shallow human plankton.

On the one hand this is a defensive position that enables the old carry on of day-to-day slogging from eyes open to the gorgeous death in sleep.

“Today was a good day because today my depression kept itself to itself, I managed and controlled myself (for this read, ‘my depression’) and I got something done”, we say. I say.

On the other hand this is a fruitless position. If the proposition is that I am my depression and my depression is me, then there’s simply nothing to be done. There is no cure other than self-destruction, and I’ve tried that on a few occasions; once or twice with the sincerest intent, with gruellingly detailed activity and with approximate success. Self-destruction is always an option.

It’s not a cure though. I mean, just imagine the sheer horror of being reincarnated… with your depression?

After all who knows what happens after the breathing stops? Imagine being a depressed clam or blue donkey or whatever next stage of reincarnation a japster deity might think appropriate?

I don’t believe in any of that nonsense by the way – when you die, you die (it’s too complicated otherwise) – it’s just the way the writing takes me at the moment. It’s also how my depression works. Like so:

“Oh yeah, you could liquidate yourself but just imagine how much worse it could get if there is a god? How fucking stupid would you feel then? More stupid and useless than you do, than you are, now – and that would indeed take a cosmic level irony because you already are pointless, as is everything else”.

Anyway, I did let my not-then-but-now wife know.}

The author in black and white on day 3 of mirtazapine

However, there’s foreknowledge (she had that), there’s understanding (she has lots of that) and then there’s actually having to experience the kind of dull, crazed behaviour I’m currently exhibiting.

It must be exhausting for her.

So, love and love and more love to my wife. All the love I have left that is useful and beautiful, clean and clear and sings of happiness and looking forward.

As soon as these side effects wear off and I stop shaking, weeping and being walking lump of bearly sensible human scrubland, we’ll do something normal.

The author in black and white on day 3 of mirtazapine

It’s taken me hours to smash this clump of words together. I’m going to press Publish on it so they will disappear into the wonderful claustrophobic internet before passing through into the spaces of forgotten ground. Over the day I’ve drank water and talked to my wife, done the washing, done the washing up, eaten egg and had some coffee. All the while I’ve been physically shaking: my hands, my arms and my eyelids. The background hum as been fear, anxiety and the smallest glint of hope.

My darling wife and her love and sense have pointed out that side effects are not main effects, they’ll fuck off and if they don’t, we can try something new.


Lovely word that.

See you all now, bye.