I walk into the clinic and am called by a nurse with a tight, sculpted permanent. "What are you being seen for?" she asks. "Anti-depressants," I tell her, wondering how many more strangers I will have to share this with.
While I wait, I read Intrusions by Ursula Hegi. It makes me laugh out loud and I wonder if I should be laughing, since I am depressed. I wonder if my license to be depressed will be revoked if I show too much merriment. I feel like an imposter.
The physician's assistant looks young enough to be my daughter. She explains the different kinds of medications and their side effects. She chooses Paxil for me because it has an anti-anxiety component. I am to start tomorrow morning, but the drug could take two months to kick in. Two months. Will I be able to get in all my crying in that amount of time?
What if I never feel joy again? What if my life becomes an even sameness and I glide, Stepford-wifelike, through my days, lifting the children into the minivan, shopping for beans and lettuce, smiling and volunteering for the PTA committees I have avoided up to now?
On the way to the clinic I cried, the words "abandon" and "abandonment" running through my head like a refrain. My deepest fear has been of abandoning those who need me -- of letting them die from my neglect. Now, it is suddenly reversed and I feel small, waiting for someone to pick me up and tell me it will be all right.
Crying seems a sweet luxury. I'm only indulging a little and long for more. I learned early how to stifle tears and then did not have them when I needed them. Now I lock the doors and cry or cry in the car between destinations.
I talked to Lyn, my priest and friend yesterday. She said I might need to visit those dark places where my memories of childhood live. I think I have visited them. I think that to keep going back there is a weakness, that it is self-indulgent to dredge it again.
Still, the journey tempts me. I want to find that child, to rescue her, but I feel like an old woman beginning the same story for the seventeenth time, oblivious. I will wear my listeners out and they will be too polite to say so.
And why must I have listeners? Why could I not just write this in a journal and hide it away?
Because those years were secrecy. They were years of "Say nothing" and "Don't tell your brother; he's too young to handle it." When I was allowed to share, I had to tell the Authorized Version. Now I want to tell the unauthorized one.
This telling is like a sea recovery, using sonar and sending flotation devices weighted with chain to bring the wreck up piece by piece. Sometimes I am exhilarated; other times I think, "What have I done?"
I wonder if I will be able to talk to Dad about the worst of the crazy years, about the nights of his threatening flying lessons off the Aurora Bridge and how I felt about saving his life. We seem to jump onto carousel horses whenever those years come up. I couch everything in careful phrases; he rails about my mother; I stop talking or change the subject and the ride ends.
At the clinic window I hand the prescription to the pharmacist and he doesn't look as if he sees a crazy woman. But then, he hasn't read the form yet.
When he calls me back, I notice he has a kind face. He gives me a bottle of pink pills and shows me how to break one in half on the counter by pushing the ends down. I thank him and take the bottle. I have to return minutes later to look for my car keys and the pharmacist comes out of his cubicle to help me search. I wonder if I seem more fragile now.
I find the keys in the bottom of my purse.
And now I have embarked. I am traveling through the land of mood disorders and though the scenery should look the same as always, it is changed because the land has a name now. It is as if someone altered the backlighting. It makes me think I've taken a wrong turn.
My father takes a pill like this every day. My mother, too. I think of us simultaneously putting the pills on our tongues, lifting water to our lips, swallowing. It makes me laugh.
cKatherine Grace Bond2003
Katherine Grace Bond
"Actually, it was my therapist who diagnosed me, but she didn't run through the questionnaire thingy until I specifically asked her about meds and that was a good 3-4 years into therapy. Earlier I had told her that I wasn't interested in meds for my ADD and that the idea of meds made me really nervous. I had to get sick enough of the depression to realize that it might actually be clinical depression and to ask about meds for that. I only met with my priest about it the one time."
Bond is an award-winning writer who lives in the Snoqualmie Valley of Washington State. Her poetry has been published in Crux, The Crossing, The Cresset, Working Poet, and in the book Fruitflesh: Seeds of Inspiration for Women Who Write (Gayle Brandeis, HarperSanFrancisco, 2002). She is the author of a chapbook, The Sudden Drown of Knowing (Brass Weight Press, 2000) and two children's books, The Legend of the Valentine and Sleepytime Dance (Zondervan, 2002), and is at work on a recently-accepted collection of short stories.