Better Living Through Chemistry, Update

So as of today, I’ve been on Effexor for three and a half weeks. Three weeks is the time it’s supposed to take to take effect–I actually started to notice a distinct lightening of mood after two. I feel better, my blog posts, as many have commented, sound much more normal, and my friends and family tell me that I sound a great deal better. And I’m painting again, and doing Digger, and whipped off a bunch of model sheets for a game company, and am generally productive after a fashion.

More importantly, I feel like ME again. And crimony, you never really appreciate yourself until you’re gone. More and more, I feel like if I can just get back into an apartment and get settled in, the last few months will be like a bad dream, and I’ll be…well, older and wiser and a little more considerate of my own limits, but back into Life As I Know It.

I’ve been lucky so far–I was expecting to have to go through several drugs, but this one seems to be doing pretty well so far. All the major side effects have passed off–my appetite is still notably surpressed, but food no longer tastes like cardboard, and after about eight hours, I DO feel something akin to hunger, so I’m in no danger of wasting away. Obviously I could still acquire some new side-effects, but so far, so good.

The major thing I’m keeping an eye out for is irrational happiness or total calm, either of which would be a little too much of a good thing. The tricky bit, of course, is that you have to use your brain to watch your brain. Still, this is where my misspent youth may actually be coming in handy. Do enough drugs, and you develop that little internal monitor who keeps track of how high you are (i.e. “Can I hold a conversation with my parents? Can I talk to the police? Can I go outside? Can I get off the couch?”) and who whispers, in times of strain, “It’s not real. You’re high. Would you do this sober?”  and generally keeps you from freaking out or doing anything stupid.

It’s a handy thing to have, that experience of being an unreliable narrator. I am wary of trusting it completely–mucking about with seratonin levels is a much more subtle thing than merely dumping a load of psychedelics on the ‘ol neurotransmitters–but all the same, despite occasionally heroic doses of mind-altering drugs in my youth, I never once freaked out severely or had a particularly bad trip, nor did I do anything particularly detrimental to myself or others under the influence….thanks largely to that internal monitor. (I don’t doubt at all that there are levels of drugs where that voice is completely drowned out, but I never got there.) So I feel–if not completely confident, at least optimistic that I’ll be able to tell if the meds start to work a little TOO well, which appears to be the major concern now that they’ve definitely proved that they work at all.

And pff, either way I should be off ’em come February or so. And that’s a good thing. I am hoping that the meds will serve more to remind me how to be me again than anything else, and so far, so good.

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