Safe

Screaming; I woke myself up screaming.

I never used to, this is new, new these past few months; this makes three times now I’ve woken myself up by screaming. Full on screaming.

I’m alone. Alone in the attic of an empty house, in the dark.

I’m afraid.

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The best way to dance is in dreams

Weak light, cold blue light of pre dawn. Eyes closed, awake.

Suspended.

Seagulls caw, call, cry. The sound of seagulls, wheeling, the souls of drowned sailors, calling. Crying.

When I first moved to London, stayed the night at Emily’s, waking in Covent Garden. Waking to see seagulls against the blue. Mean bastards, but free, flying. Playing in the air, like I’ve only done in dreams. Lucid moments where I dance free from gravity; the best way to dance is in dreams.

Eyes closed, awake. I could be anywhere. I could be by the sea. Could open the curtains to see Brighton streets.

Open my eyes. Weak light, the dreamy blue of pre dawn. Human vision is biphasic, our cones detect colour in bright light, our rods sensitive to luminescence in low light. This space, in between; the most dangerous time to drive, vision suspended, the world invisible. This is when you’re likely to collide.

Open my eyes. Same old room. This room could be anywhere. The top of a fifteen storey block, a detached house in Edinburgh; I could be anyone, here, being no one, in the weak light of pre dawn.

Seagulls call, long dead sailors trying to return home. I close my eyes, imagine I’m by the sea.

Suspended; invisible. Waiting to collide.

Gravity

No milk for tea.

I’ve been sunny, these past few days. Birthday of Brother #2, tea with friends (I’m cutting back on coffee; besides, tea’s nicer. Amazing, how habit often overrides pleasure). Uni has been going well.

For one reason or another, or several reasons interlocking and which nobody really understands, SSRI antidepressants take 6-8 weeks to kick in. For me, the worst of the side effects – chattering teeth, sweats, anxiety – pass after two weeks.

The world comes back and I come back – not gently, but in strobe light; a jitter-jugger, lurching to life. This all takes time to settle. it’s been sunny, these past few days. But deep down I’ve known I’m yet to settle.

One mistake. One dumb and daft mistake I make yesterday, and I’m crumbling inside, my mind whips ups both fears and rage, rage at myself. I know I’m going nowhere so I go home, the world all sunny and me longing for the comfort of rain. Walk from the station – this is why I’m useless, this is why I’ve failed, this is why I should never, ever try; this is catastrophic thinking, this is the ‘all or nothing‘. Arguing with myself, wishing I’d just shut up. Frustrated; a few more weeks on the citalopram and I’d have been fine.

But right now I’ve been standing unsteady, and a trip leads to a fall. That’s just gravity.


 

When it’s just a trip, when I just get grazed rather than broken, sleep often works. I force myself under and wake in the morning, strangely reset. Get on with the day, with life.

But all sleep brought was a nasty, choking paralysis which I screamed my way out of, and a morning too sharp and tender.

Forgot to drop by Tesco yesterday. No milk for tea.

Mirtazapine, intense as in

Peaches! It's a visual metaphor, maybe.So last week I asked for my prescription to be changed.

I’ve been on citalopram for about a year now – it’s is a common-or-garden antidepressant which has a very similar cellular action to Prozac – they’re both what you may or may not know as ‘selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors’ (SSRIs). I won’t go into the nuances of SSRI treatment here, save to say they work to an extent, and for some people more than others. I’m fortunate – citalopram seems to work very, very well with me. So why change?

Side effects.

The side effects of SSRIs are usually not too bad – the worst I’ve ever had, or seen anyone have, is an immense tiredness, which can be enough to lead people to quit. But the tiredness I experience on citalopram isn’t anything troubling to me; I need an afternoon nap and that’s pretty much it. Given how profound and dangerous the depths of my depression can be, a few piddling side effects really aren’t worth worrying over, not in the heat of the moment (or, rather, the depths of the dark).

After a while tho, when all is sunny and well, what had been niggling side effects take on a change in character; specifically, the rock-bottom libido I’ve lived with for a few years now, notwithstanding alcohol inebriation. SSRIs are known to sometimes muck about with sex drive, and after mirtazapine was brought to my attention I thought it worth a punt.

Even so, I don’t have great hopes for this ‘working’; that is, delivering some miraculous return of my sex drive. Libido is complicated and impacted by a whole range of factors, from depression itself to past sexual and romantic history, confidence, self-perception, all the way up to culture and subculture, and perception of one’s own role within that wider context. Even if my predicament was initially brought on by a simple chemically-induced neurobiological change, it will be far from simple now. Brains are complex, and people even more so. Still, this is low hanging fruit (fnar), and you have to make a start somewhere – this is a start, of a kind.

And what a kind! My GP looked surprised at my request, pointing out that mirtazapine is usually prescribed for more anxious-depressive types, those filled with a worrying energy. The drug, he explained, can have quite profound sedative effects. Take at night. You might have difficulty waking. Dreams may come.

Dreams did come, and they’re still coming, though I’m told they’ll eventually, probably, fade. Some claustrophobic, some vertiginous, some icy and frightening, all suffocating, intense. Intense as in seeming profound, only to tatter away with a moments thought. Intense as in teenage crush, primal and primary, confusing. Intense as in shrooms, hilarious because, hilarious because hilarious, because. Haunting, and like ocean waves dragging you down as you wake, as you surface, only thrashing and gasping and drowning again into dreaming, and again, and again into dreaming.

The first day, my eyes opened and I got up, I drank strong coffee and more strong coffee but never really awoke, napped for hours before exhausted went to bed, another twelve hours, awoke to dreaming, awoke to dreaming, awoke.

The second day – strange and a world full of echoes and space, but more awake. I think I’m lucky – the tiredness fading fast and swift now, even if the dreams still boil away at night; while waking is still a confused surfacing it’s getting easier. During the day I can write, read, I can even talk and think, and it’s been less than a week. That’s some quick neuroadaptation!

Maybe I’ll even get my libido back.testosterone