Coffee Log, Year 2, Day 72


Coffee: Pike Place from the Apartment Office Lounge

When I was fifteen, my parents took me to see a psychiatrist. This was on recommendation from my counselor. I was pissed.

“Drugs? Really?”

Yeah, yeah, I was depressed, and yeah, yeah, I’d cut a pin-sized hole in my wrist, but DARE or some more darkly personal fear had given me the notion that psychoactive drugs were bad news, period. Still, I was fifteen, so I was obliged to go.

The psychiatrist was a nice guy. His office was in Chapel Hill. He made me take some tests, talked to me for an hour, recommended me a book (Sophie’s World, which would lead me a few years later to a degree in philosophy). It was a pleasant time. It felt productive. At the end of the visit, he tells me that my brain is most likely not producing enough serotonin. That’s when he tells me I should take these pills.

“Fuck no,” I said. “I’d spit them out.” I really meant it. To his credit, the guy saw I was serious, and to their credit, my parents did too. I never took the medicine.

That was fifteen years ago.

This morning I woke up at 5am unintentionally. I’d gotten to sleep at 1am. Thin white serpents of self-doubt had wriggled into bed with me. I’m pretty liberal about who shares my bed, but the serpents were too much.

So I spend the morning going from one room to another trying to find where I’d put myself the night before. Not in the kitchen, cause I had no appetite to eat. Not in the bathroom, because I had no strength to disrobe for the shower. And not at the dining-room nook I often write at because my ideas were still grappling with the serpents, numbed by their poison, strangled by their old white skin.

For the past fifteen years, I’ve worked hard to change myself. By now, many of the changes are tangible. I work out regularly. I eat better. I write daily. I’m more open-minded. I’m a proud man. I can proudly say I’ve taken every bit of advice to better suit my lifestyle to a disrupted brain. And – though it’s difficult for me – I want to proudly say none of that has been enough.

I made an appointment with a psychiatric practice in North Raleigh. Their earliest date was a month from now so that’s what I took. When the lady asked whether I was looking for medicated treatment or talk therapy, I paused for a second, got this stammer I get sometimes when I’m nervous, and cleared my throat: then I said “Medicated, for sure.”

Currently Reading: Kitchen Confidential, Anthony Bourdain

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It’s not a silly question if you can’t answer it.

Jostein Gaardner, Sophie’s World