Relatively Normal: A Matter of Representation

Every morning, I wake up and take five pills: 3 Effexor, an SNRI antidepressant; 1 Wellbutrin, an aminoketone anti-depressant; and 1 Ativan, an anti-anxiety benzodiazepine. Actually, I take these five pills sometime after I wake up, when my reminder alarm goes off — Ativan can cause memory loss and I’ll end up taking somewhere between 2 and 4 more of them throughout the day.

There are other side effects, some of which compound on each other:

Ativan and Effexor reduce your sex drive. Wellbutrin usually has no sexual side effects. So my love life is holding steady at a negative 2. Wellbutrin and Effexor cause insomnia, while Ativan makes you drowsy. No wonder why I can fall asleep easily, but have an insomnia hour around 4AM.

All three cause headaches/migraines, and dizziness — I get both fairly frequently. All three also get you much more fucked up, so a few sips of wine or a beer, and I’m fairly drunk. I’ve taken to avoiding bars, but Wellbutrin and Effexor cause dry mouth, so I’m always well hydrated.

However, all of these things are supposed to be endured to stave off the crazy.

I am allowed to say ‘the crazy‘ because I’m reclaiming that word. Like feminists with ‘bitch.’ Except that I use it in a more self-depricatingly funny way. It’s not pride.

Then again, can you really be proud of something you didn’t decide to be a part of?

The crazy is also shorthand for Doctors Don’t Really Know What’s Wrong With My Brain.

Right now, the general descriptors are depression, anxiety, and PTSD, with a slight chance of Bipolar II. My votes are for the two latter. In the interest of time, my proof is multifaceted:

I think a lot about bad or weird things. I’m often distressed, either about nothing, or about a perfectly reasonable situation that for some reason bothers me. I’m either snipping and yelling at my husband, or not talking at all. I’m exhausted a lot of the time, and it can come on any time, in an instant.

Oh, and random crying. There’s some of that.

The problem with all of this is not all of this. I’m very rarely upset to be stupidly tired, or contemplating cutting, or feeling triggered in the grocery store. This is the new normal. It has been for two years. There are ways to deal. Workarounds.

The problem is that all of this is supposed to be pushed under the rug. Hidden away. It’s not pretty or pleasant, so no one wants to look at it. The new padded walls are closed mouths. We’ve rid ourselves of asylums and put the impetus on the inmates to hide themselves away.

She’s introverted.

She’s bitchy.

She’s such a negative person.

She needs to get over it already.

She’s just trying to get attention.

All of that is easier than having to actually face something like depression. Or anxiety. Or PTSD. Or bipolar. Or schizophrenia. Or OCD. Or spectrum disorders.

So depression is something you experience when you’ve had a bad day.

Anxiety is when you’re really nervous about a test.

PTSD is when you don’t like hearing about your ex-boyfriend.

Bipolar is having contradictory thoughts or emotions in the span of an hou.

Schizophrenia is shortened to ‘schizo’ and hurled as an insult.

OCD is being a type-A personality.

Having a spectrum disorder makes you interesting.

No one wants to speak for these people, my people.

We can’t even get a public defender, much less a psychiatrist who gives enough of a shit to explain your medication to you, and listen to your experience with it.

We have to represent ourselves, and that starts with identification.

I’m Liz.

I have the crazy.

I’m not proud of it, but I’m not ashamed, either.

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