I went back on anti-depressants the day that a Conservative majority government was elected.
If you ever have to take anti-depressants, I’d caution you against reading that terrifying little leaflet which comes with your medication. Unless, like me, you happen to enjoy the black humour of it briefly before your inner hypochondriac gets its act together and clocks in some overtime. According to this sheet of paper, I could expect the Sertraline to give me mood swings. I’d lose my appetite. I’d probably have trouble sleeping. But also sleep too much. I might also find a massive increase in attitude. Erectile dysfunction and inability to orgasm was on the horizon, as was “persistent unstoppable erections” (which, let’s face it, is the last thing you want to be burdened with when you work with children). Similarly, I might also suffer incontinence, constipation, frequent urination, lose control of my sphincter, experience forgetfulness, enhanced memories, and “possibly fatal heart failure” (which at least gave me a fighting chance.) I was vaguely disappointed that the side effects didn’t do anything interesting, like allow me to turn green and muscular when angry, or fly or shoot webs from my wrists or, better still, suddenly give me the keys to the Wayne Manor and access to their bank account so I could live my dream of being a bearedier, communist Batman. Perhaps more worryingly, a common side effect of my drugs was “debilitating anxiety and depression” which was probably the most self-defeating statement to make about an anti-depressant.
It’s been 13 days since I started taking the medication. I’ve noticed that I am being affected by it – I keep forgetting things. Little but important things; I’ll leave my house without headphones, which for a misanthrope is utter hell because I actually have to talk to people. I’ll become convinced that I’ve sent emails when I haven’t, and only realise this when I get irate messages demanding to know what I’m doing with my life. I have been writing blog posts where after two paragraphs or so I’ve completely forgotten what I was meant to say. I forgot to meet friends, to go to meetings, to brush my teeth in the morning. I even found myself struggling to remember how to roll a cigarette the other day, and one would have thought that years of remorselessly kicking my lungs with nicotine would have made that into pure muscle memory. Apparently not.
Mood wise, my GP warned me in stern tones to phone her immediately if I felt suicidal. I have, thankfully, not felt that way, but I have been finding myself taking a rather blase mental attitude to my health and well being. Again, sitting on Kings Parade today (I spend far too much time there, puffing on my e-cigarette and glaring at passers by in the hope that one of them might take pity on me and offer some sense of existential purpose. No I don’t know what I’m on about either), I watched a few delivery vans drive by. I speculated what it would be like to pop myself out in front of one of them. Enough to get clipped and knocked over, not seriously injured. That would get me a few weeks in hospital. Probably the closest thing I’d get to a holiday. Sorry, can’t deal with your problems, other people, I am ill. Look, I’m in hospital and everything and I’m crapping in a bed pan. Best holiday ever, man. In the end I didn’t, because it wasn’t a suicidal urge as such, more just the desire to have a break from it all, so I wondered back to work and listened to Whitechapel until I felt better, or least the closest approximation of better that I can get these days.
I wonder if I’ll stay on anti-depressants. Perhaps swallowing a little white pill will just become a part of my daily automatic rituals like tying my boot laces or deliberately choosing my most disgusting death metal t shirts on the days when I know religious schools are visiting college. Perhaps something will kick in and suddenly I’ll be able to feel a bit less like I’m wondering down a preprepared path of mediocrity, which, while not the worst thing in the world, will suddenly wind up with me sitting alone in a pub at 2pm in the afternoon, aged 50, showing signs of lung cancer and wondering what the hell happened.
Or perhaps I’ll just figure out what the hell I’m doing with life.