“You’re gonna have to call in a prescription for more adderal,” says an instant message from my friend S. “My head is all fuzzy.”
Oops, that wasn’t for me. S. hastily explains that he was trying to chat his wife, but got the wrong window. He’s been diagnosed with ADHD for ages, he says, and the last couple of weeks has been trying to cope with it without the meds, but it’s not working. “No worries,” I chat back. “I used to be very anti-meds until fluoxetine1 pretty much saved my life.” One revelation deserves another.
Earlier today I was thinking about my friendship with S., which is one of those rare (for me) friendships that just happens, born of little besides cigarettes and Radiohead. We couldn’t be more opposite in a lot of ways — he keeps posting facebook rants about, for example, the bigotry of that Chick-Fil-A guy, and how super-duper Obama is — but for some reason he’s easy to be with, and our disagreements sometimes make for good conversation. I congratulate myself on how much he would have intimidated me if I had met him five or ten years ago, with his tattoo-covered forearms, athlete’s crew-cut, and penchant for casual swearing.
His ADHD doesn’t surprise me, any more than my depression surprises him. It’s almost a plus, in my book. Not because chemical imbalances make people deeper somehow, but maybe the other way around: it does seem to be true that the more wires you have, the more likely it is that some of them will get crossed, short-circuited. I get along well with people who have lots of wires, especially if the wires are in disarray.
My brain mystifies me. One of the unexpected side effects of Prozac: I don’t seem to mind spiders any more. What kind of sense does that make? I’ve never been terrified of them, but they’ve always made me feel creepy. Now I look at them and see something intricate and well-conceived, like a clever piece of clockwork. Did I hate them because they reminded me of my own creeping, spidery thoughts, the ones that used to sneak up on me from between the folds of some innocent reflection? Did the Prozac fill in some crack in my brain, some microfissure where evil thoughts (whether of spiders or of self-loathing) used to be able to find purchase?
No idea, none. As I drive home from work today, I think of a passage I just read in Sheed where he discusses the differing states of the Blessed: how, in Heaven, we’ll all be as happy as we can be, we’ll all be full to capacity; but that our capacities will differ depending on how much our hearts were stretched, enlarged, by our time on earth. The difference, he says, matters more than we can imagine now. Yet we’ll all be perfectly happy.
I briefly wonder whether the meds have stunted my growth somehow, and whether this era’s tendency to over-medicate is producing a generation of moral dwarfs. The man who couldn’t stand to see the butterfly struggle, and slit open the cocoon to give the insect an easier time crawling out, stole the butterfly’s chance to be strengthened through struggle. Have I given up my chance at being strengthened?
Oh, maybe, maybe. I don’t care very much, because I’m strong already, and getting stronger. So I tell these thoughts to be quiet, and miraculously, they do — it’s a new ability of mine, almost a superpower, this ability to shut down a train of thought when it’s heading for a cliff. Besides, my life isn’t without struggle.
And I remind myself for the hundredth time that most people aren’t sane because they’ve managed to overcome an army of invisible demons. They’re sane because they never had to.