Sunday, January 25, 2015

of pills and 'apostrophes' - part 1

I just started on an antidepressant, ciprolex. I have suffered from poor sleep or insomnia for many years, waking up in the middle of the night, sometimes two or three times, with a pounding heart and racing, ruminating thoughts. My wife, wise and seasoned psychotherapist that she is, suggested I try the medication. I have been taking the medication for about a week now and the true effects have not yet had time to settle in. I'm going through a side effect stage which might actually include a bit of an increase in the symptoms I'm trying to address.

It seemed I had tried everything else. Avoiding my computer and listening to calming music before bed. Hypnosis apps on my cell phone. Using sleep masks. Ingesting various supplements. Acupuncture. The list goes on. Meditation helps a lot once I have woken up to bring me back to sleep and improving the quality of sleep, but the frequency and intensity of the night terrors hasn't abated any. In fact, they seemed to be getting worse. The poor sleep impacted everything: my work, my relationships, my ability to concentrate and remember, my mood. I have had enough.  I'm tired of fighting it.

I was very hesitant to try the medications, thinking I could address the situations in a more 'natural' and particularly a more meditative way. I felt I could heal myself through meditation, t'ai chi, things like this. In fact, a part of me feels defeated in 'having' to 'submit' to a pharmacological answer. Starting this medication regimen has triggered numerous questions and self doubts. Here I am, a so-called teacher of meditation, and I need an antidepressant?!!! What will those who I have taught think about this? What good am I as a meditation teacher, what healing can really be available if I can't even address my own mental states effectively.

I found how attached I am to a variety of identities, not just one of 'meditation teacher.' There was also that of someone who can do things on my own, of self sufficiency. Somehow following the direction or advice of someone else, my wife of all people, seemed unmanly of me. What would my construction friends back in Utah think of me? (So much concern about what others would think of me, eh.)

But more deeply than that, if a pill could change my experience of myself and the world who the heck am I anyway? I am not new to the understanding of neurotransmitters in the brain and how they and other molecules influence our perception and emotional states. But 'ME'?!! Where am 'I' in all of this? Who am 'I' in all of this? I am aware that the neurotransmitters are a physiological manifestation and that in having to take the medication I am on is no different than a person living with diabetes taking insulin or a person living with HIV taking a protease inhibitor. That's okay for other people, but where am 'I' in all of this? Who am I!