The Ouroboros


For the past few months, I have been experiencing a new manifestation of my major depressive disorder. I call it the Ouroboros Coma. I reached the point where I was too sad to remain awake. My body thought sleeping was the only alternative, and I was trapped in an endless cycle of circular naps that I didn’t want or need. They would constantly eat up my day and then shit out anxiety over all the time that I wasted where I could have been writing, grading, cleaning, and, of course, giving the people around me a decent amount of human affection. Like its name suggests, these naps felt endless, and at the same time, ravenous. After all, the snake used in the Ouroboros never grows tired of eating itself in its efforts to balance out life and death.

I was fed up with my disorder feeding on itself, and three weeks ago, I finally asked my psychiatrist for pharmaceutical assistance. Although she had mentioned a viable solution back in September, I was not desperate enough yet to take it, and I’ll let this flash creative nonfiction Twitter piece explain why:

Fulton the Author‏ @DeadEnds1

This week I had a bad depressive episode. But I got a flash creative nonfiction piece out of it. My doctor asked, if I have ever tried Wellbutrin. I said no, but my father did. She asked if it worked. Instantly, I imagined his ghost sarcastically laughing, “Not really, Doc.”

5:34 PM - 22 Sep 2018

Yes, she had suggested the very same medication that my father took during the months leading up to his suicide. And I really did imagine him sitting next to me and belting out this punchline with his usual wonderful/unnerving sense of cosmic timing. All I could see was that antidepressant’s name on the coroner’s report next to a sorority house level of alcohol consumption.

During the next few weeks, the naps were accompanied by the sensation of walking through glue every time I managed to guilt myself into wakefulness. I knew I had to enter round two of medication negotiations with my psychiatrist. And of course, she started with the same argument from before. It reminded me of how my students think that repeating themselves is tantamount to proving their claims. I conceded, but only because of sheer exhaustion. And with that, she added the drug to my already existing anti-depressant regiment.

Every time they change or alter the dosages of my medications there is always a period where my thoughts start to eat themselves and then create the same circular toxicity as the naps. I wonder where the drugs end and the true “me” begins. Is there a definable “me” anymore? Are these my natural inklings or medical induced perceptions of what society dictates as normal? Am I an automaton or autonomous? Again, the Ouroboros enters the equation and makes me well aware of life’s grand tea-cup design.

My husband, and all my doctors, claim that it doesn’t work that way. The medications are just helping me back to a point where I had a stronger sense of “me,” and that was apparently, before my father decided his version of “me” was worth walking away from.

The first few weeks on the medication went great, by the way. I had more energy and was not stuck in random comas and their mucus membrane afterbirth. I was so excited. I thought this was the answer, and this would be where I would finally get off my tilt-a-whirl of intermittent crying, sleeping, and bad dreams with just the right dollop of anxiety. Anyone who has suffered from a mental illness is probably laughing at this very syllable and second, and I don’t blame you. You are in on the joke, which is only funny to people who walk in my circles and think that a new pill is going to make it all… just go away.

A few days ago, I decided to watch The Haunting of Hill House series on Netflix. I love to watch how the ghost story genre has evolved over time, plus who doesn’t love Shirley Jackson! She was one of the great founding mothers of American Horror. Unfortunately, I tapped out at episode two, because as I watched the oldest of the Crane children dread seeing her mother, who was thought to have committed suicide, freshly embalmed and tucked inside a casket, I heard my father’s voice whisper, “Did you really think it would be that easy, Chris?” I found myself right back at the funeral home that was responsible for burying multiple generations of my father’s family. I didn’t want to look at my father either, but I forced myself to that day. Nobody held my hand, and I didn’t want them to. I needed to defy his instability and inability to love one more time. And so, I was right back at the beginning; the circle hadn’t been broken. The medicine merely extended the amount of time I had to walk around it completely, before realizing I had doubled back. I spent the rest of the night crying, vomiting, and realizing that the Ouroboros has very sharp teeth that cannot be easily pried open. At least, I have the energy to walk around it more efficiently.

Here’s to small victories.

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