Friday, January 30, 2015

on pills and 'apostrophes' - part 2

Maybe I should backtrack some so you can get a more complete picture.  My wife, a gifted psychotherapist, has been thinking I needed an antidepressant, which is what ciprolex is, for some time, like 15 - 20 years.  She noted a constant low grad irritability, frustration, and melancholy early on and she has come to think that my sleep condition might be related with these states of mind.  I see her reasoning, it makes sense to me.  When she first started gently suggesting that I take an antidepressent, those many years ago and until two weeks ago, I wasn't into trying it, didn't want to take 'a pill,' entertaining thoughts that I could address this situation through a continuation and deeping of my psychospiritual practices of meditation, t'ai chi and chi gung, intentional living, enriching my capacity for health relationships, finding work that is fullfilling and meaningful, and so on.  And yes, part of the trying was trying to just be okay with it all. Accepting the imperfections of this body and this mind.   I felt if I just followed the instructions of the excellent spiritual teachers I have had these things would gradually take care of themselves.  I was pretty stubborn about it in relationship to not taking any antidepressant, and I was very committed to living a life with practices of spiritual engagement.  And while those practices have had a definite positive impact on my life the irritability, frustration and melancholy have all persisted. Who knows what my state might be like if I didn't meditate, acknowledge and own my positive attributes, have healthy relationships, etc.  I suspect it would have be much more troublesome for me and for those around me. But… and I just haven't been able to shake these mental states. So, basically, I'm just plain sick and tired of being sick and tired.  And I'm at peace with seeing if my wife's suggestion might work.  There is a very good and deep friend who thinks I should be taking the pill, and I am so grateful for his love and honesty.  But here I am, giving it a try.  

I try not to have any delusions about the outcome. I suspect is that the mind will still be the mind.  It's not like with this pill everything will magicallly become bliss and light.  There will still be 'opportunities' for 'growth,' though sometimes I do wish there wasn't so much opportunity. :-)  From a Buddhist standpoint, thought is simply thought.  It can appear quite compelling, it can feel loud or soft, abrasive and kind, and either way it can appear so true, even when it might be only partially true at best.  It is part of the meditative practice to understand these aspects of thought and to look at them with a discerning eye.  Is a particular thought something of value or is it like much 'unintentional' thought, simply thoughts going around and around on automatic pilot - repetitive, hovering at a horizon barely above or below consciousness, habitual, partially true at best?  (I use the term 'unintentional thoughts' when talking about thoughts that seem to happen on their own, the ones that spin along  without our consent or even our participation, the thoughts that when we meditate can become increasingly apparent like background noise.) The ongoing meditative practice of addressing one's relationship with thought, of creating a greater intimacy and acceptance, is not being lost.  The mind is still the mind. This pill is not going to change that.

Am I arguing this point in some way to legitimize a shaking position?  I really don't know.  And for now, I'm not going to worry about it. The states of mind might actually be due to the serotonin levels in my brain, levels that the ciprolex might address.  So again, if this is true it's no different than taking insulin or any other medication that addresses a physical condition.  (PS. I strongly suspect that my mom suffered from depression as well.) 

This path I've chosen is a bit of an adventure, an experiment.  It's okay with me.  It's approaching two weeks since I started and this is the time the benefits are suppose to start kicking in.  

Please understand, perhaps most of all, that this decision is a serious one, and one that is the result of a lot of contemplation and consideration.  I'm not advocating that anyone take or not take antidepressants or other psychotropic medications.  I know that when warranted they can be of great help.  I see it every day in my work.  And I also know that sometimes antidepressants are prescribed when what the person is going through is a natural time of grief or sadness and that facing these difficult times face-to-face is really important and can be very healing.