It’s been six months since my wife left. And while I’ve tried to deal with my feelings about it outside of social media–as much as a social media addict like me can manage–I keep landing on this same concept again and again, and it bears writing.
Relationships are like antidepressants.
I don’t mean this in the hyper-saccharine sense of “they make people happy.” So let me explain.
I used to take antidepressants. Lexapro, to be precise. My mind was a mess in high school (as I imagine most seventeen-year-old, newly gay girls’ minds would be), so I went to therapy. Therapy was great. My psychologist was just the kind I needed: straightforward, tenacious, didn’t take my shitty, cop-out answers and made me dig deeper. As we dug and pieced me together again, or maybe for the first time, she suggested I take a low dose of an SSRI like Lexapro to give me a little more brain-space, a little more balance, until I found my footing.
At first, the drug was just what I needed. For years, I had been split open over and over by the extremes of my emotions: intense happiness, intense sadness, intense anger, intense love. When the drug kicked in, it was as if someone had seen me twirling faster and faster, stepped in, and grabbed me by the shoulders. My mind went quiet; the world stopped spinning. I could think, and work, and sleep.
I kept going for my regular check-ups, and the psychiatrist kept jotting off the script, certain I still needed them and they were still doing the trick. I don’t know when the drug stopped working; it was habit to take it. And the change was so gradual that it wasn’t until I could barely get out of bed that I noticed anything was different. I was lethargic. I was numb. Everything felt the same: like nothing at all. So I stopped taking them.
That “nothing” was good, at first. I needed a breath from the soaring highs and desperate lows. But after a while, you realize that it all kind of feels the same in the middle. And you start to miss the crazy a little.
Relationships are this middle for my heart, the way Lexapro was the middle for my brain.
This is something I can see only now that I have been alone for half a year. Before that, I was in a serious relationship from the time I was twenty. I thought I knew what happiness was; I thought I knew what sadness was. But nothing I felt during those seven-and-a-half years compares to the death-defying climbs and plummets I’ve taken since October. I feel exhilarated by the freedom, and devastated by the loneliness. I feel full-up from the love that comes from all corners, and profoundly empty from the yearning for something as simple as a slow dance. I miss her, and I hate her. And this is all before getting out of bed.
I can honestly say I haven’t felt this good or this bad before in my adult life. Relationships buff out the extremes and leave measured, predictable happiness and sadness. Is a life of more-manageable despair worth the loss of the highest highs? My answer changes with the wind.
It’s six months later, and I’m still trying to find center without the drug of a relationship. So if you ask “how are you?” and I say “I’m good,” it’s simply because by the time you finish asking, I have felt all the things and don’t rightly know how to respond.