This is your brain on continued survival.

January 17, 2008 at 4:29 pm (movies/video/clips) (, )

(Context: 1, 2.)

Found the following video in this post.

This is an incredibly accurate summary of my obsessive fears about medication before I started taking it. Emily can testify to that — she was there. These exact things came out of my mouth.

But you know what? For me, in my life, they weren’t true. I didn’t go numb. I didn’t stop being creative. I didn’t become a different person. I just stopped cutting myself. I stopped wanting to die.

At about 00:39, the man in the video says “Well this isn’t me. This is Paxil. This is me on Paxil.”

I believe, truly and unreservedly, the anti-depressants are the wrong choice for that man. He should stop taking them. I hope he recovers from his experience completely, and finds some other way to be a healthy human being.

But I really, really resent the dichotomy* between “me” and “me on Paxil.”

I sure as hell hope that “me on amitriptyline” is “me,” the real me. If it’s not the real me — if it’s the drug talking, some impostor, a pharmaceutical cuckoo — then the real me is not someone who can survive. The real me is someone constantly on the verge of a nervous break. The real me is someone who can’t sleep, someone who can’t eat, someone who hallucinates that the subway station is Hell, someone who hallucinates she is vomiting the serpent from Eden. The real me is someone so obsessed with her sadness she can’t form relationships. The real me is someone who hates herself so much she tries to cut pieces out with scissors. The real me is someone who sobs for hours when she spills coffee, who burns herself for getting a B. The real me is someone who has to down three glasses of vodka in order to stop hating herself for long enough to kiss the person she wants to kiss.

“Me on amitriptyline,” on the other hand, doesn’t want to die, doesn’t want to hurt herself, doesn’t hallucinate, can learn for her mistakes, can kiss someone sober, sleep through the night, eat three meals a day, be trusted with sharp objects, take care of herself. Anyone who’d like to think that version of myself isn’t real can step on her glasses, throw out her birth control, stop buying aspirin, stop buying toothpaste, and start picketing hospitals and medical schools.

Edited to add: I don’t know whether depression is a chemical imbalance. And I actually don’t care.

* I resent it as an idea that was in my head for years, preventing me from getting treatment, not as a description of this man’s experience.



  1. Elaine Vigneault said,

    FYI – that movie trailer is about the withdrawals from stopping Paxil and other SSRIs. More can be found here: and the withdrawal blog is here:

  2. Daisy said,

    Thanks for the info, Elaine. I’ll take a look at those links.

  3. Dan (Fitness) said,

    I’ve sprained ankles, broken bones, and had all sorts of calamities. Sometimes the pain was so great, that all I could focus on was not feeling awful. Like when I was tested for lactose intolerance, and the pain was so horrible I writhed in my chair, while the doctors remarked they had never seen such a strong reaction.

    Another time, after spraining my ankle, in spite of the pain, I was joking and goofing around. I was able to think clearly, and do what I had to do to get better.

    I was me both times. Its not like we are our worst moments, or our best. We are the people who have those moments. The very same sentiment applies directly to our mental experience. We are not our anxieties or our hopes, our sprints and jumps or our kisses. We are the person who is experiencing the world.

    Medication always has different effects on different people, and when you are talking about brain chemistry, that is even more true. An imbalance could be a lot more subtle than “lack of serotonin”, and hence medications can improve some symptoms while inviting others, outside the known range of side effects. Its no surprise some people hate psych meds so much.

    Its difficult to sum up the admiration I have for you, and how this post confirmed the very best of that. Stay strong, vocal and insightful.


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