The spring evening settles around us as we keen, sailboats restless in our berths. We are trapped souls, our barren masts scratching skywards, pulsing, almost vibrating against the indignity of our nakedness. Waiting for the disguise of darkness to camouflage our wounds.
We are still alive. We are the clinical trials which never took place, finely aged and toned veterans of the Decade of the Brain, the bravest of the Big Pharma Guinea Pigs. Prozac GenOne Survivors. You find us on discussion board threads like Crazyboards, Out of the Fog, or PsychCentral. Shape-shifting, starboard wingmen, over sensitive to the tide, we have all, most of us, lost count of the months, the years even, we survived as anchor-outs.
I returned to Crissy Field with my dog yesterday morning. The first day of feeling closer to sanity than I had in about five days after yet another attempt to taper down on Effexor. For several years, I’d been stalled at 37.5 (split between an am dose of 25mg with 17.5 mg with dinner). Both my psychiatrist and I believed I was stable enough so we began the taper on January 17.
I woke up hopeful, light, as if some mysterious presence had visited me during the nearly 12 hours I slept to reassure me that not only can I do this but I can do this well. The way I truly want to do this. To be in each moment, to savor.
Sitting at the desk drinking coffee looking through my email. A forest green zip-up jacket over dark grey slacks and a black cashmere top. A touch of face powder. Pale lip gloss. Dangling silver earrings. Walking shoes. I don’t feel 67.
Last week Sunday. Restorative Yoga. One of the first poses. Paschimottanasana. I’m doing this inner brain visualization with tactics I learned from Reiki years ago. Moving my consciousness around, along the top of my brain. Pushing bright light deep into my consciousness . Visioning it swimming under huge silver buckets of clear cool water. Pulling out a bristle brush to clean out all the decay. I see my mind as a huge crowded cobweb. Some holes, some tears. Dark globs in the upper right corners. I’ll need to get to them.
After my latest major psychological/spiritual episode late last year, I opt to do things differently. I decide to concurrently take the terrifying plunge and change my meds by consulting with an unconventional and highly respected psychiatrist. I follow this with five days working one-on-one with my master yoga teacher, an aruvedic healer. At first glance, an unusual choice, this combination of western psychiatry and ancient natural healing.
It’s well before 8 Saturday morning, the eve of the Winter Solstice, as I set out for the waterfront, dogs trotting, impatient, beside me. The fog hovers over the puddled pavement.
A mere five minute walk to the marina, a grassy promenade grazing the bay near the houseboats and anchor outs. A well guarded perch for local birdwatchers on the lookout for sightings of Slaty-backed gulls, Belted Kingfishers, Spotted sandpipers, Bufflehead ducks; home to the usual suspects – surf scooters, cormorants, terns, skimmers, egrets, on occasion a pelican.
It took the death of my father to free me from a lifetime of emotional abuse as the daughter of a narcissistic mother. To open my eyes and swim away. To save myself from drowning.
At first, I experienced one of those ‘pink cloud’ periods. Out of her sphere of influence, I was liberated. Powerful. Invincible. And I sailed on that cloud for a month or so. Until my first EMDR session. The ensuing flood of memories. The vibrantly real visions of flailing, submerged, for safety, alone in the middle of a pond whose ice was too thin to bear the weight of even the frailest of the fragile.
“Within us is a secret longing to remember the light, to step out of time in this dancing world. It’s where we began and where we return.” Jack Kornfield
Last night, I shared my story at AA for the first time. I don’t owe my sobriety to AA, however. I was one of those people who have a hard time with the God thing and the jargon when I took my last drink 30 years ago.
No, rather I dropped in and out over the years and began to reinvest in the program about three years ago. The fact that I am an Alcoholic had, in fact, become a side note in my battle with Major Depressive Disorder, the underlying condition I realized I had medicated with alcohol.
It feels like a huge woodpecker is hammering away on your head for about 35 minutes. Five days a week. Not a pleasant sensation. But when you have been battling depression for over thirty years and Medicare is footing the bill, you just might be willing to commit to six weeks of Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS).