Antidepressants: A Thank-You to My Drugs
BUPROPION (Wellbutrin), 300mg daily
You’re such a slut but I like you that way. Everybody likes you that way. Magazines call you “the happy, skinny, sexy pill,” for that covetous sexual energy you bring back to the body. Why shouldn’t they? Like spring after winter you followed a fatty, flaccid SSRI regime. You blunted my appetite, reversing the plump effects of your psychiatric cohort. You’re not like other girls. You are a prescription miracle.
I’ve seen you lower the threshold for seizures in people, even cause them in some cases. You’re so funny. I know you would never hit me with one of those (not unless I’ve been drinking, but you know I don’t do that anymore). Nobody’s perfect. Sparkly vision and dizzy spells are just part of who you are. Good thing I no longer drive!
Thank you for the gift of a working man’s energy. You are the capitalist’s ideal antidepressant. I went from anxious and depressed on my couch to anxious and less depressed at my job. Wellbutrin, you pulled me from the black tar pits of despair. Now the only thing standing between me and success is my own daunting inertia.
FLUOXETINE (Prozac), 40mg daily
I tried to live with Wellbutrin alone, but you SSRIs can be so addictive. I went through withdrawals in your absence. Malevolent anxiety ran wild. My brain became a cloud threaded with lightning.
You’ve come in many colors. I can see how kids mistake you for candy; blue and white, orange and green, white tablet, aquamarine capsule. Whatever generic alternative Medi-Cal agrees to cover. It’s your consistency I admire.
You’d been recommended to me before. A friend of a friend. I admit I thought you were a little old-fashioned. You’re the choosy mom’s antidepressant after all. But I was wrong. You’re A-Okay in my little battered book. You minimize intrusive thoughts and prevent me from dwelling on them too much. You also let me fuck. What’s more important, you let me want to. How could I not love you?
PAROXETINE (Paxil), 20mg daily
I might wish we never met, but then I wouldn’t have found Prozac and Wellbutrin. My friends liked you so I thought I would, too. The adjectives people used to describe you online—safe, effective, low-risk—outshone the horror stories of mood swings and weight gain. Sources said it took up to two weeks for you to take full effect. I thought we might make fast friends.
You made me cry for absolutely no reason, gain fifteen pounds in five weeks, and also made it next-to-impossible to cum. What’s worse, you made me not even want to. You did not aid my depression. You muffled it, restricting its movement until it screamed like a kid in too much winter gear. I know, everybody’s chemistry is different. What works for some won’t always work for others. Obviously we didn’t click.
I don’t hate you though. While I never want to see you again, you represent an important chapter in my life. You symbolize the decision to seek medication for my mental illness. Before you came along, I feared antidepressants would permanently alter who I am. Now you’re as normal as my prescription lenses. Both simply help me see the world more clearly.
CALCIFEROL (Vitamin D), 4,000iu daily
In 2013, I flubbed a landing and snapped two bones in my foot. That same year I moved to Portland, Oregon, where it rains for five months straight every year. Doctors there told me after five years that I had a Vitamin D deficiency so pressing, I initially required prescription doses. I thought of my healed metatarsals and wondered if my bones were always brittle. I never went outside as a teenager in Missouri, either. Too many bugs.
My doctors also said that this deficiency might be linked to my depression. I don’t know if that’s true and I’m too sleepy to Google it, but one thing’s for certain: I stopped randomly breaking out in a sweat as much. Have you ever tried to make it through a job interview with your pores gushing like hydrants? I have. I didn’t get the job.
Δ-9 TETRAHYDROCANNABINOL (Weed), 100mg daily
The best for last. My final vice now that alcohol and tobacco have left the fireside, you are my morning, noon, and night. After years of prescription medication, some of it mine, the rest of it from someone’s Xanax bottle, I say with sincerity that you are my favorite antidepressant. Your rainbow of terpenes are a gift to humanity. I’m no stoner though. Just a fiend. There’s a difference.
Weed, you and I go way back. My dad trafficked pot by the pound and went to prison for it. My mom was all about that life until that point. When I picked up smoking, she sighed and said, “You come by it honestly.” I made a shitty dealer, always burning through my own stash. Not until I worked as a middle man for smarter dealers did I start to understand where I stood with you.
When someone loves pot this much but they don’t know why, chances are it benefits them somehow. Weed, you’ve opened many doors. Your vines wend their way through my entire life. I work at a San Francisco cannabis dispensary, introducing you to curious tourists from Wisconsin who don’t have this kind of thing back home. Morally wrong? Certainly. Glamorous? Also yes.
Update: Wellbutrin and Prozac are fuck buddies.
Excerpted from a larger piece in a collection of essays.