Thursday, 20 June 2019

Dimmer Switch

It's a rainy evening here in Hamilton. The skies are grey and dark, but night has yet to properly fall. Generally, I'm the type of person that goes around the house and turns off the lights in every room I enter -- but tonight, the house is lit from within and I'm sitting warm and comfortable under a blanket on the sofa.

It's natural for everyone to feel a little gloomier on overcast days. When the air is heavy, thought itself feels weighted. Bones react, migraines are experienced more often, and everyone seeks the comfort and shelter of indoor worlds. When the sun is out, so are the people. Our bodies and minds respond automatically to the cues of nature.

I'm just about two weeks into my Cipralex prescription. Tomorrow afternoon I return to my psychiatrist for a follow-up, and I'll tell you what I plan to tell him.

So far, I have experienced none of the risked side effects of the drug (primarily nausea and increased headaches are reported), and the medication seems to be having a measurable positive effect. Ben says I've had more energy (evidenced by the yard work and basement cleaning I've accomplished this week). I see that is true, but I have felt changes beyond simple stamina -- it feels like somebody has turned up the brightness.

When I was cleaning the basement, I came across the pile of puzzles that Ben and I have collected over the last few years. All are Springbok puzzles (because we have standards), and all of them are second hand (because we don't have all the money). Most of them have all of their pieces, and all of them are challenging. If you've ever plugged away at a puzzle, you'll know it can take hours and hours to finish a good one, and it's not uncommon to work into the evening. At some point, you lose the light -- but it's not something you always notice right away. Light fades, after all; the sun does not simply disappear, it dims. Eventually, someone will flick on a lamp and everyone around the table will say something like, "Oh! That's WAY better!" marvelling at the wonders of electricity before returning to the now-much-easier task at hand.

My anxiety dimmed the lights in my internal world. Slowly, gradually, in a way that I didn't notice. Every task was a frustration, my ability inhibited by the lack of metaphorical light. Things that should have been simple and stressless made me so angry. I raged at what I felt was my own impotence and failure. But I just couldn't see. The whole world was gloomy and dim all the time, and every little task was a strain.

I'm only two weeks into Cipralex, but a lamp has been turned on. The whole sky of my mind is lighter and brighter. The puzzles are still a challenge, but I can see what I'm doing. Taking care of a baby is hard, but I don't hate it this week; making a meal still takes time but it doesn't sap all of my energy; running errands is just one part of a day, not the single job I can manage without a long nap. The pieces are so much easier to fit when you can see them, and I haven't seen them clearly in a really long time.

It's only been two weeks, but I am very hopeful -- even on this dark and rainy night.

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