SCENE: I’m sitting in a Starbucks, latte in hand, chatting away with the ever-awesome Sophia. We are of course discussing world domination. And family and friends and gossip and restaurants and all that good stuff.
I felt so…relaxed. Even if some of our conversation concerned more dour subjects, I was just happy to be hanging out chatting. WHOA waitaminute. HAPPY.
Smacked me like a chair to the face too.
Happy as in not spending disproportionate amounts of time coaxing myself out of a horrid mood. Happy as in not feeling like I’m teetering on the edge of saying “screw it” and going to live in a cave. Happy as in feeling genuinely optimistic about my future again.
What an amazing feeling — to feel normal again. Better than normal, actually, because I’m grateful to be back.
I am so, so glad I went back on Wellbutrin. It’s a night and day difference even if the shift is subtle. I’m a tad annoyed at my own pigheadedness. Ever since last fall I’ve felt myself grinding down more and more. I’ve felt like I’m sliding down a hill of shale and desperately trying to slow my descent. Granted, these are spurts and spazzes. More frustrating was the endless gray. When life throws shit at you, you deal and keep going. Because there’s always something more. Belief in God or belief in your loved ones or belief in your future — that’s a spark that keeps one going when the chips are down. It sucks then when all of that is overshadowed by a senseless futility.
I shouldn’t feel this way. I haven’t survived some war and watched my family slaughtered in front of me. I haven’t gotten my face half burned off by my crazy older brother. Yet, for quite awhile, I did.
Wellbutrin kicks in a faster than a lot of antidepressants because it targets different stuff than SSRIs. I didn’t know this until I called my psychiatrist. Because I just felt…good.
There are some minor side effects but they don’t bother me. It seems to slightly exacerbate my farsightedness. My mouth gets a bit drier. Or maybe that last one is because of the cold I’ve had for a few days.
The shift is subtle. But to me it makes all the difference. It was like a layer of gray was suddenly gone and my normal self could rush through.
My morning today was like, whoa. I had class, then work, then Crossfit, then schoolwork. For a long time, it took all my concentration to focus on one thing. As in, when I was at work, I couldn’t even think about schoolwork or else I’d feel dread eating away at my stomach. That’s not me. I’m spacey, but mentally when I have shit to get done I function at high speed.
As I got ready for work I could see my planner in my head, moving things around like a puzzle. This hasn’t been there in a long time — I’ve been struggling just to keep the basics in line. Introduce a need to return something to Target and I’d be a useless woobie trying to schedule it.
There’s also another interesting aspect to Wellbutrin: it curbs OCD cycles, which have always made my lowest points worse because I keep playing them on repeat. No wonder it’s also sold as an smoking cessation aid under a different name.
Some people joke with me when I get obsessed with things like TV shows. Heh, my compulsions go way back before I ever got obsessive with books and film.
As a kid, I went through several “habits.” Tics, one might call them. When I was around 5, I started shaking my head. Kind of like a dog when you blow at its ear. Enough people yelling at me and willpower finally stopped it. But soon after I was clenching my jaw. Again, it eventually stopped. My third and final random-ass habit was gulping. Like Shaggy from Scooby-Doo. My mom and doctors attributed it to “messed up kid in the middle of a divorce syndrome” and little else was said. But suffice to say, I’ve always had compulsive habits.
I want to talk a little bit about habits. It’s something that really shook me the other day.
Wellbutrin blunts my appetite. A lot. I’m not complaining as I need to lose weight. But more than just dulling physical sensations, it diminishes my mental desire for food when I’m not physically hungry. You know the term “bedroom eyes?” I have kitchen eyes. But they seemed to have learned chastity. Me chaste…buahaha.
The other day I was with Sophia at a concert. The PR lady so politely forgot to tell us the starting time was pushed back an hour. I work in PR — this is not acceptable. Stuck with nothing to do, we went prowling for snacks.
I have no problem just eating junk food on occasion. I might not feel so great afterward, but sometimes it’s fun to just sample all the crap they’ve assembled from corn and high fructose corn syrup. We stocked up on Bugles, Dark Chocolate Chex Mix (this stuff is awesome!), apple bars, Dots, and chicharrónes; wandered around looking for neat stuff to see; and eventually headed back to the belated concert.
I was nibbling away. Not crazy INHALE ALL THE THINGS mode, just nibbling. Soon, no more vague tummy rumblings. No more mental desire for munchies. But as we sat down, oddly, I was still snacking away. I hadn’t eaten dinner so I wasn’t exactly overeating for the day. There was no guilt or anything bad with it — I believe I was in what Martha Beck calls “Watcher Mode” where I was simply observing my behavior. Oh, and having a deep convo with Sophia.
Interesting. I wasn’t wracked by junkie-like sugar cravings. No nerves-based desire to hide myself behind a mound of potato chips. And no shame or self-hatred at myself that has, in the past, made me eat way more than I should. Yet, the physical compulsion — the act of reaching for food rather than the compulsion to want to eat food — was still there.
Cue ridiculously simple revelation that made me facepalm. Sometimes the simplest things spit at you right in your face and you don’t see them.
To break a habit, you have to NOT do it. The body remembers. Habits are like furrows. It’s an easy path and your mind is the well-trained pet. No amount of thinking, vowing, or preaching will ever break a habit. The only thing that breaks a habit is doing something else. That’s hard. So very hard. But so is everything else in life.
Of course, it’s easier to parry than block. Instead of smashing a habit entirely, take the sneaky route and replace it with something else. I chose tea, purely because it’s always at the office. At the office, I always snag some candy from my boss’s boss’s candy drawer (it’s scary and epic and a 4 year old’s utopia). Even if I don’t want candy, a few pieces inevitably wind up on my desk and in my mouth.
Today, I made tea instead. It’s sweet and tasty and comforting in our sub-Arctic office. And not grab candy. Once more trying my best to simply observe, it was interesting to see how I was inexorably drawn to the crystal bowl overflowing the Butterfingers and Snickers. Tea time! With effort I pushed myself into the kitchen instead and made myself a sweet cup of peppermint tea. Good for my congested sinuses too.
I don’t consider this restricting. Because I didn’t friggin want the candy. I was full from lunch. I didn’t have any sugar cravings. Yet, by pure force of habit, I was like the creepy dude at the playground eyeing up the little candies. Time to make a new habit.
To be clear, Wellbutrin is not a “happy pill” for me. It does not make me spontaneously happy.
But Wellbutrin has peeled back some of that insufferable gray and made it easier for me to be my normal, happy self again. If I seem slightly manic, it’s only because I’m a self-absorbed trollop and it’s an awesome reunion.