Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Peace and Lexapro

Somebody sent me a link to the New York Times article about Seasonal Affective Disorder. I've had this problem all my life but it didn't have a name until a few years ago. Maybe this post will help somebody.

I start to go downhill when the dread Christmas season begins; houses festooned with twinkling lights might as well be decorated with cobwebs, evil clowns, and Bride of Chuckie waving a knife as far as I'm concerned. I hit bottom around Valentine's Day. I'm back to speed by St. Patrick's Day and slightly manic by the end of June.

When my kids were little, I self-medicated by eating and reading: one year I lay in bed for most of January reading Marion Zimmer Bradley's entire oeuvre.

S.A.D. is not my only problem, I've always been jittery. When I was in high school, kids used to sneak in the door of my homeroom and tap me on the shoulder just to see me jump. I got an astrological reading from Stephen Forrest once; he said "you were born freaked out."

Then there was a pretty bad decade - I divorced my husband, got into an awful relationship, eight trees fell on my house during Hurricane Fran and crushed the roof, my dad died, my beloved aunt died. On New Year's Eve 1999 I had to have a tooth crowned and, miserably alone and woozy with Novocaine that night, I just laughed: "Next year has GOT to be better."

The next year, 2000, my son Zed was diagnosed with brain cancer. So much for prognostication.

I come from a long line of extremely eccentric women and fear following in their footsteps. So I'm glad I finally found a way to dig out of the hole. After trying herbal remedies and a lightbox (that helped a little), what really did the trick was Lexapro.

Now, as the shadows lengthen in November, one day I'll I notice myself muttering "NOTHING IS WRONG!" quietly but audibly as I push my cart in the grocery store; then it's time to start taking Lexapro. The dark fog I used to call Dread gradually lifts, I sleep better, I'm not as jumpy or despairing. When the days get long again in early spring, I quit the Lexapro.

When I started Pratie Place, Zed was getting ready to go to college and I was anticipating the Empty Nest Syndrome. I thought a blog might sop up some of my anxiety. It did - when I woke in the middle of the night I wrote in order to forestall pointless obsessing.

Somebody actually made fun of me for writing too often - "I can't keep up," she complained.

Once Zed was in college and my worries for him had subsided, I realized I needed more creative outlets in my life. A friend turned me on to the "Artist's Way" and I started writing "morning pages" every day - it's been more than a year and I'm still writing in a series of journals which have led me to painting (how thrilled I am to enjoy it even though I'm so lousy), studying Yiddish and Spanish, reviving a musical partnership with Bob, and a number of other things which all take time and make me happy.

When I was lying in bed late this morning (7:45) and just - feeling good - I remembered the therapist my ex-husband sent me to when he felt I needed to be fixed. This therapist said, when I complained of sadness: "But artists are supposed to be unhappy." Do you agree with that? What a conundrum! If I were jittery and miserable would that be better?

Have you noticed how many more songs there are about heartbreak and sorrow than there are about being happy? In my opinion it's because happy people have less motivation to write songs.

To be continued some other time, perhaps...

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At 12:09 PM, Anonymous Ethan said...

Completely off topic, but I didn't see an email address for you anywhere:

Avenue Q meets Fiddler on the Roof (YouTube link).

"What do you do, with a B.A. in Yiddish? Who the hell majors in that?"

PG-13 for some language. I have GOT to see Fiddler some day. I keep meaning to, but just haven't.

At 5:35 PM, Blogger Alma said...

Melinama, your strength and resilience continues to amaze me. I am in awe.... Alma, barely keeping up.

At 12:21 PM, Anonymous sylvia said...

May I disagree with you about something? You are not a lousy artist. And you have a beautiful voice too. I'm amazed at all you manage to do, especially in the midst of this "Horrorday" Season(as my friend Betty calls it). - Sylvia, usually an unbearable Pollyanna but definitely Scroogie when her neighbors put a gigantic inflatable snow dome complete with loud blowing snow, moving Santa AND Snowman inside, on the front lawn right next to a creche featuring Scooby Doo.

At 2:44 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Caray,Cara!!!... Melinama...I think that everyone gets ''a bad year'', but yours was DREADFUL...AND you're still standing, girlfiend!!!! Just proves that humor, intelligence, and resilience are valuable resources for us all. Keep on keeping on, Lovey!!!~~~Susanlynn, admiring you even more

At 3:20 PM, Blogger melinama said...

Thanks everybody! And Sylvia, PULEEZ send a picture of your next door neighbor's Scooby Doo creche etc. This would lighten my spirits immensely!

At 3:20 PM, Blogger melinama said...

And Susanlynn - I think we need a picture of you for the sidebar at Caray Caray! too, you are part of the family. Send please.

At 4:11 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said... very odd...After reading the post about Sylvia's neighbor's display, I started reading a book about Japan that a Japanese woman whom I am tutoring gave me today as a Xmas gift. The author writes about her recent trip to Kyota , Japan : ''one floor of a department store had been transformed into 'Santaful World,' a Japanese Christmas retail center where the merchandise included a dancing Scooby Doo dressed as Santa Claus.'' Perhaps Sylvia's neighbors picked their yard decorations up on a recent trip to Japan!!~~~Susanlynn

At 1:31 PM, Anonymous Sylvia said...

I'll work on that Scooby Doo picture for you.

Yes Susanlynn, please, we must have pic of you for the sidebar! Thank you for your story about the Scooby Santa. I'm laughing right now thinking about it.

At 7:14 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well, I am the photo-taker in my family , so I'm not in many pictures, but I will look for a photo with me in it. The next task will be to figure out how to send it to Melinama. [I have very few computer skills.] ~~~Susanlynn, the comnputer-challenged

At 1:48 PM, Blogger B said...

How does the light therapy work for you? Is it important to use the light box at a specific time each morning or just sometime in the morning? I found some good advice here too: but I think I need a light box...


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