I’m unsure if my change in disposition went unnoticed by the world at large. I barely publicly talk about my mental health anymore. I barely had the same passion as I once had for most things, especially, and most importantly, my mental health advocacy. The same lack of passion extended to my photography and my music.
I stopped creating art and beauty. I stopped being a fan of art and beauty. And without that love for art and beauty, without my own artistry, I found myself lacking an identity as being an artist – in whatever capacity, be it as a writer, a musician, as a photographer. Being that is all I’ve known of myself. Been one since I was a teenager writing poetry that’s now been lost on the annals of time.
I’ve sporadically put it out there to the world that the lack of personal identity has caused me a great amount of confusion and pain. I became a man without steady ground to stand on. I became a man completely hovering aimlessly, directionless.
It was not for a lack of trying. I tried to be the person I was, I tried to be the person who made me who I am. Early this year, I once again decided to go the music route – the route that I set for myself in 2012, the time I started writing songs. I even invested in the tools that would help me with that. But circumstances discouraged me, again, from finally accomplishing the goal I had. I sold of those tools, as I’m inclined to do once a roadblock manifests on the path.
A few months later, I decided to go back to something that once gave me the stability that I’ve often craved for ever since I was a child battling my inner demons. I went back to familiar, safe grounds, one that I excelled at – photography. I can’t, for the life of me, remember why my re-attempt on photography didn’t take. I had a borrowed camera. I invested in new lens. I was, for all intents and purposes, back to form. I was back in my comfort zone.
But as I mentioned, it just didn’t take. The emotions I felt when I was in the process of capturing life as it happened weren’t there anymore. It made me feel like a fraud with a camera. It made me feel like I was past my prime, that I didn’t have what it takes anymore. Me being me, mental illness and all, got discouraged and just stopped taking photographs again. I surmised that, perhaps, it just wasn’t for me anymore.
Of course, the assumptions I had for the failed resuscitations of what I loved doing were merely justifications as to why I quote-unquote quit. Admittedly, I am easily discouraged. But there was another factor at play – one that involved the pills that were supposed to make me feel better, make me feel living instead of just alive.
In the early part of the year, the mood stabilizers I was on, Abdin, was slowly losing its effect on me. It happens as time goes by. There’s really no one pill to cure them all, after all. That factored in with the decisions I had made to drop things that I was inherently passionate about.
And so a change of medications were in order. I was on lithium (just like the classic Nirvana song.)
The lithium was a godsend. It did what the previous meds I was prescribed wasn’t able to do – it limited my emotions. There was suddenly a wall between me and my emotions. The lithium did was it was intended to do, to stabilize my mood. However, it had initial drawbacks.
Not the pills per se, but how I reacted to them. As a depressive, my emotions and feelings are heightened. Amplified. I feel too much, even to less at times. I feel things more than normal people do. Something goes wrong, I consider it the end of the world. It leads me to an abyss of desperation wherein the only way out is to lead my physical body out of the realm of the living.
The lithium prevents that from happening. It blocks me from feeling too much so I won’t get overwhelmed by emotions. However, in the early months of being on the pills, I was confused as to what was happening to me. The changes in my mental health was foreign to me, considering that I’ve spent decades living with enhanced emotions. I was so confused that I translated the changes as me losing every bit of me that made me who I was. It was nerve wracking, to say the least. Bouts of insanity became the norm. I was fighting what was happening to me.
I wasn’t as passionate as I once was. I stopped becoming a mental health advocate. Is stopped being a photographer. I stopped creating art and beauty. I stopped creating the one thing that has saved my life time and time again – music. I felt as though those weren’t in me anymore due to how the lithium nullified my capacity to feel passion.
And as a person who’s lived his entire life being a creative (and I don’t mean to use the term as just a buzzword,) I was shattered. I was in hell.
And then…days before my thirty fourth birthday, I was gifted with a revelation that I never considered in those hellish months. I received the best gift I’ve ever had in recent memory as it effectively made sense of what seemed excruciatingly senseless.
I relayed to a friend the hell I was experiencing with the lithium, how it blocks my emotions, how it was preventing me to feel “normal.” Her response was monumental and enlightening. What she said was that perhaps what the lithium does to me is what makes me normal now. For all intents and purposes, the lithium makes me feel things normally. Normal, in such a way that every normal person – those not afflicted with mental health issues – feel. All this time since I started on the lithium, I was actually feeling emotions the way they’re supposed to be felt by normal people.
I’ve lived decades feeling emotions in an intensified way, and in an instant, the emotions are filtered. That’s a mental culture shock, if there ever was one.
So now I’m coming to grips with these new processes. I’m adjusting to the massive changes in my mind. And I must say, so far, so good. I’m doing my best not to let the emotions cripple me. There are still relapses, of course, especially in matters of the heart. But I’ll make it out of it.
So what can I expect from myself in my thirty fourth year of existence? One, to live more. Two, to finally accomplish the goals I’ve set out with much delayed music. I mean I’ve already accomplished my goals in photography, so it’s time to finish what I started with my music.
It’s a new era. Time to do all I can for it. It’s time, once again, to live as much as I can.