For those who struggle with depression, or whatever mental malady, please read the comments in the last thread. They are very helpful; far more helpful than what I originally wrote, I think. They are like fresh water to me.
Marie asked a great question, right off the bat:
What do you think about the idea that it is ok to be angry, to not relax much, to not be able to nap, to be impatient? ...is it normal for us to be happy and relaxed all the time? Maybe some of the struggle you have is because you are feeling cheated of a happy, well-adjusted "normal" when that's not really normal? ...maybe it is ok to be sad. Maybe it would be inappropriate to be all well-adjusted and contented all the time. There is a lot of sin in this world (ours and others'). Shouldn't it bother us?
I think pain, foolishness, oppression, injustice -- it should bother us. Makes sense. Still does, Prozac (now Cymbalta, for me!) and all.
What doesn't make sense has been my own sense of failure. It doesn't square with reality. It does, however, make sense, in light of the way I grew up. I'm not going to get into details, but while talking to a counselor last week (first time ever) it took him a half-hour to say, "Of course you're going to struggle with that, given what you've been through. Of course."
Before, I couldn't sit and watch my kids play without thinking, "I've blown it. I should have done X, or Y, and then they could have had a nicer house and I should've taken that job years ago and..." Not for a moment could I just relax.
After, I sat next to our neighborhood pool, and watched my daughter sit on the pavers in the sun with her little friends, under the waving palms. I just sat and watched my beautiful little girl. Just sat and watched her. And I thought about how sweet she was, what a simple privilege it was to be, at her request, "Rubber Duck-Themed Game Leader" and I didn't think about me...at all.
God, I don't want to go back to before.
Fact is, my brain put itself in a groove, early on, and I'll be danged if I can will myself out of it. The counselor says the drug gives me that chance. For a split-second, I can think, "Does this really matter?", and most of the time? It just doesn't. Not, "My brain is tricked into thinking I shouldn't be angry at myself," but I'm given a shot at reality: I shouldn't be angry at myself. It's okay. Deep breath.
As for making me a "better moral person", he disagreed. He allowed only that it gives me a chance to do so. What I choose remains up to me. Makes sense. But man, it's easier now. I love -- finally! -- having been able to pour myself into others, without focusing on the me-meister.
Please bear in mind, regarding the concern that the drugs can make us inordinately happy: I've been taking these pills for a year now. If anyone has noticed, in this blog, a tendency toward slappy-happiness during the year, please let me know. The counselor says I likely grew up hyper-vigilant (my mom says that makes sense, too) and the drugs may be helping me, for the very first time, to be myself.
The counselor said he, himself, has been taking meds for eight years to help him with chronic anger, something handed down to him from his dad. I asked him how he dealt with that as a Christian: How did he think God viewed it?
He said -- mostly jokingly -- that maybe he'd have to sit among burning haystacks for eternity. But...he was simply not going to put his family through it anymore. That simple. "They don't deserve it, and my wife couldn't be happier now."
Fellow losers, God uses us. He uses the weak, the messed-up, the openly failed.
I'm so embarrassed to talk about this stuff. But I talked about it the other day, at the gym, with a Jewish friend who works there. He knows I'm a believer. I talk to him about it. We get along, but he's never too comfortable with me. He asked "How you doin?" and leaned on the treadmill. I told him how I was honestly doing, pills and all. Look at me: Christian boy. Messed-up. Something clicked.
We talked for a half-hour, and he invited me over to play guitar.