Despite my suspicions concerning its effectiveness, I refilled my prescription for Lexapro today, which meant a trip to the local pharmacy I use. As I walked in, I could hear a television broadcasting some kind of sporting event. I then glanced upward and spotted an NCAA Tournament basketball game being played.
I had forgotten the games started today.
One might read that last sentence and give me the benefit of the doubt, pointing to a busy schedule and a million
different things on my mind this week. In reality, though, it is a giant red flag. I never forget the day the NCAA Tournament begins. I don’t recall that ever happening to me before. This was tantamount to Popeye forgetting to eat his spinach or Batman forgetting his utility belt.
It should have concerned me.
I’ve been feeling a strange sort of numbness these days. It feels as if I am walking around in a thick fog or wrapped in some heavy blanket. The sharp edges of experience seem dulled. The snow has finally melted, and the early signs of spring are starting to show. I stand at my window and think of the grass that will soon need to be mowed and the bicycle that has lingered in storage since last summer. Both thoughts should bring me joy. Instead, I feel nothing.
Such a numbness would logically indicate a lack of ability to feel emotions. Nothing could be further from the truth, however. Every emotion which does manage to crack the shell I feel around myself right now is multiplied a hundredfold. I laugh louder than I should. My anger goes from a simmer to a boil in seconds. Every perceived slight drives tiny pins into my soul. My sadness descends to frightening depths, with tears sometimes following on the way down.
The language in the previous two paragraphs may have veered too heavily into melodrama, but I wanted to point out the strange contradictions that a life with depression can present. It can jump randomly from not being able to feel anything at all to suddenly experiencing the weight of every feeling in the known universe. Such acceleration and stopping would drop the transmission out of a car, and it drains the energy out of a human being. It is like a constant tugging from the time a person wakes up until they close their eyes to go to sleep.
How is this possible? How can a person be caught between such extremes? Well, my answer is, “I don’t know.” Perhaps it comes from a person’s body adjusting to taking an antidepressant, with the old self and the new drug-altered one constantly at war with one another. Perhaps it is caused by the simple ups and downs of everyday life. Maybe a person’s spiritual state of mind can influence it, with the flesh and the spirit locked in eternal conflict. Maybe it is a slow descent into hell, and we just don’t realize it.
I am sitting on my couch right now watching basketball. My hands are typing on a keyboard. A book is lying next to me. I feel right for the first time all day. The numbness I felt earlier today as I stared blankly at that TV screen seems to have dissipated for the moment. It’s a place I want to stay, but I can feel the pull of the abyss behind me. To be able to feel anything, though, should be counted as a blessing. The alternative can be even worse.