I told you I wasn’t going to do this. I also told myself and a whole bunch of other people that I wasn’t going to do this. But I did it: I got myself a prescription for some happiness pills. They are small and white and oval and I take one every morning at nine o’clock. And I’m glad.
They aren’t supposed to work right away. Doc said three weeks (and silently I said, THREE WEEKS!?) but I felt better that same day, five days ago, only an hour or two after popping my first one in the parking lot. I’ve got a fast metabolism, I said to myself, swallowing, so I bet this’ll work fast. I pictured the clean white pill dissolving in me, spreading light through my dark veins.
I know about the placebo effect, and if that’s what is happening, I’ll take it.1 I doubt it’d work so well if I hadn’t always told myself: Yes, that would probably work, if things ever got that bad, but they never will.
I took them because none of the usual tricks were working, and holy crap, 2.5 months is a long time to feel like crying. Prayer, Kung Fu, talking with friends, doing things for others, riding my motorcycle, distracting myself with work or projects, journaling — everything helped as long as I was doing it, and stopped helping the second I stopped: I’d finish class feeling healthy and energetic and loved and hopeful, but step out the door of the dojo and BAM, it was like stepping outside of a force field.
It was enough.
Now, when the pills are working — the first few hours after I take them seem best, but it’s only been five days — it’s like someone turned the volume down on the poisonous thoughts, or took the hooks out of them. When a sad thought occurs to me, I can decide not to think about it, although it might grumble in the background a little; it doesn’t tackle me, eat me alive; it doesn’t grow another head for every one I chop off. Is this how most people are, most of the time? Is this how I was, three months ago? I think so.
Doc says, Get past the stigma: you are sick, and sick people need medicine. So when do I stop taking them? Well, he says, we’ll see you again in a month. Then in three months. Then in six. Then in twelve. Does my brain just not make enough serotonin, like a diabetic person’s body doesn’t make enough insulin? Did it used to, but it got crippled by too much thinking? Or did it never? Doc says some people take these things forever, like insulin. Not me, boy.
Calling it a sickness gets me thinking. A sickness is something that happens to you, not something you do. You don’t get sick because you’re weak, you get sick because — why? Maybe you stayed up too late, or went walking in the rain, or your immune system isn’t that great, or you ate some bad egg salad, or you haven’t been eating your vegetables.
Non-depressed people aren’t non-depressed because they’ve faced the dragon and slain him; it’s that, for them, the dragon never showed up at all. Strange. I know there are people like that, even though it’s hard to believe, people who have never been to the pit; I know because I’ve described it for them, and their faces show sorrow and compassion but no understanding.
Enough of that. I wanted to tell you what’s going on, but there’s no point in thinking about it too much. I can do that: think about something else, sing a song, watch a movie, do something ordinary. Call a friend. Watch the leaves move, say hello to the sparrows, watch the rain.