Better Living Via Modern Chemistry

So I’m seeing a counselor, of course. Because this is the sort of thing one does under these cirucumstances. I suppose I could just get really drunk and punch the wall or something, but I’ve never really been that kind of guy. In fact, those kind of guys scare me. At parties, they always seemed to find me and start fucking with me. I don’t know why.

Anyhoo… my counselor wanted me to see a shrink to be evaluated for depression. I’m like, I don’t need to see a shrink for you to know that I’m depressed. I can tell you that, pal.  I’m in the pits of despair. Okay, maybe not all the time, but still…

So I actually got an appointment with a shrink pretty quickly, which surpised me.  I called a few different offices and the wait time to get in was at least several months. I see the guy and he puts me on Wellbutrin. He thinks this will work better for me than Zoloft, which I’ve actually been on before, just after I graduated from grad school but that’s another story, because, he said, where Zoloft acts as a kind of sedative Wellburtin is a stimulant, like drinking coffee.  Sounded cool to me, because I’d been so lathargic and slug-like lately.

I start with 150mg/day the first week and then switch to 300mg thereafter. The first day, I loved it. It pepped me up. I knew it was just the stimulative effect of the drug that was working, sicne it takes 3 to 6 weeks for it to really work its way into your system. Also, there was probably a placeb effect at work, but I didn’t give a shit. I was feeling pretty good.

When I started on 300mg/day, it made me a little shakey, but I think that was because it was the first day and I’d made the mistake of also drinking some coffee that morning, just out of habit.  Not cool. I was jittery like an addict jonesing at at 4am. Okay it wasn’t that bad, but I did not like. I’ve since even out. That’s what the stuff does. It evens you out. Little things that used to irritate me don’t anymore. I don’t lose my cool. I don’t rage about things for no significant reason. I feel less scared. I feel more outgoing even, and that is so not like me. In addition, I’ve pretty much stopped drinking coffee, which saves money, and I’m losing my taste for cigarette, also a money saver, not to mention a life saver. I know smoking is bad, but I still do it, especially when I write. It is part of my routine.

Another little ancillary benefit is I’m losing weight. But then I was already losing weight from stress. I’ve gone from 178 lbs just after Christmas to 157, stepping on the scale today. I’ve been hovering mainly around 163 though, so that 157 reading is probably off.

Also, I’m not content to sit still. I need to do shit. Unlike before when I could literally sit in the chair in front of the TV for fucking hours. Of course, Colleen really digs this new version of me because I’m folding clothes, emptying the dishwasher, cleaning up the yard. I don’t exactly mind it either.

I feel more focused when I’m reading, less easily distractable. I’m hoping that focus translates to my writing as well. I’m not seeing so far, although tonight I’ve been pretty focused.

I can still feel pretty down sometimes, often in fact, but it’s not freak out sad.

Anyway. I’ve only been on it for a couple of weeks. We’ll see what happens in the coming weeks.

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Hey, I’d be a booze hound if I could. But instead I’m just a movie junkie

A friend from college, who is going through his own trying times right now, although they are of a different sort than my own, his being of the lost job variety — Yikes! — were talking recently, and he said that he was glad that he didn’t have a taste for alcohol (beyond the occasional glass of wine at a social function, I’d imagine) otherwise he might be in big trouble, easily turning into a booze hound. I shared this sentiment. There have been times in my life, including my current state or disillusionment, that have made me seriously consider just the romantic, albeit destructive notion of simply drinking myself into oblivion. Problem is I just don’t have it in me to drink like that. Never did. I had friends in high school who certainly did, and at least two of them are recovering alcoholics now. It wasn’t just that I was (am) a super light weight,  able catch a buzz on less than two beer, likely to get wrecked on little more than a six pack. I’m not sure I had to stomach capacity. Hell, I can’t even finish a glass of Coke when I go out to eat.

No. Instead of booze, my friend and I both seek solace and refuge in movies. He keeps as many 10 different movies on hand at any given time so that if he is so inclined he’ll just start watching, one flick after another, and not stop until he passes out, i.e. falls asleep. My habit, on the other hands, is slightly different. I tend to latch onto certain movies and/or TV shows now that they’re on DVD and watch the same one over and over again. I’ve done this in the past too. And I can never predict which movies/TV shows I’ll latch onto. For example, this holiday season I watched the Elf and A Christmas Story, over and over again, every day. Well, I didn’t exactly watch them. I’d listen to them online while I worked. I have that kind of job, in which I sit at a computer for the better part of 8 hours each day. Although I’ve begun to think that the nature of job may have something to do with my blues these days, and in the recent past. Looking back, I’m certain that I was depressed for the better part of year, perhaps longer. And, at least in part, that lead to estrangement from my wife. [sigh]

Anyhoo…these days I seem to have developed an attachment for the movie Good Will Hunting. I’ve always liked this movie. As my friend from college described it, Good Will Hunting is an example of solid, straight forward storytelling without and self-consciously obvious tricks or cleverness. Personally, I think that has much to do with the director, Gus Van Sant. Anyway, I keep watching it over and over again. In fact, it is playing right now as I tap out this post.

A TV show that I’ve been watching a lot: SCRUBS. I’ve always found this show to be appealing. I suppose because it seems to drip with GenX ethos. But also it is refreshing and quirky, utilizing a single-camera technique, not film on a sound stage with a studio audience, and the fantsy sequences are brilliantly done. Also, whereas in most cases, a voiceover usually ruins a TV show or movie, this one seems to work somehow. For whatever reason, it works, at least for me.

Still, I worry that I watch TV too much, that I use it to anesthetize myself. I believe that is what I did for the past year or more before my separation, because I was depressed. I think a lot of people do this, to one degree or another. I believe that I saw my father do this most of his life — the man watched a lot of TV, and I believe there was something profoundly unhappy about him. But then he was from The Silent Generation, and it was characteristic for the members of this cohort to simply not talk about their problems. That was my dad all over.

My point is, I  don’t want to rot in front of the TV. And it seems that I’ve taken a step in that direction, by getting on some meds, specifically Wellburtin, which was recommended to me by a Dr, mainly because it has rather opposite effects compared to Zoloft, which I ‘ve taken before. Where the Zoloft can act as kind of a sedative, often making your sleepy, Wellbutrin acts as more of stimulant. Seems I’ve alreayd expereince said effects this weekend, after only taking the med for two days. Perhaps it is just psychological but I felt much more energetic, and I did not have but one small sample cup of coffe this weekend. Usually, it’s the first thing I do in the morning, and then again in the afternoon sometimes, and often at night too. But that was not the case this weekend. And it was a good weekend too.