Friday, February 15, 2008

Betwixt Angst and Comfortably Numb

This thing, not a feeling yet not just a thought, has been running through me like an underground spring, trying to well to the surface. It - whatever it is - has been lurking in my academic life, as well as my writing life. And my personal, too.

It goes something like this: sometimes we feel lousy. Not just a bad hair day kind of lousy, but the kind of nasty where we want to scream, hit people, curl into a tight ball on the floor of a dark closet, cut ourselves with exacto blades, play with long coils of rope, lose ourselves in the comfort of gambling, food, booze, or sex. The dark, dark emotions that dog us like stubborn shadows. And we want them to go away. Now. Because stewing in this maelstrom of negative emotion/feeling/angst/insanity makes us extremely uncomfortable.

But there are pills, you see. Some you can get from your family doc, others you can easily score from a college roomie, a dealer loitering in the Lexington Market parking lot, or a friend's medicine cabinet.

And the question is: do you take the pill?

Fascinating article and discussion on this delicate balance, courtesy of Judith Warner


  1. I would say no, I wouldn't take the pill. At least not before exploring and perhaps exhausting other options.

    I definitely know that feeling you're describing, that wanting to scream or more, and in my own life, it usually comes from something situational and sometimes I think that feeling, that part of you that wants to scream (this is the universal you, btw) usually has something really important to say, almost like a message from your unconscious, from what might be ignored or suppressed or silenced, what wants a voice in your life.

    I have found that it's not always easy to listen to, but I think it is worth it, if possible. Sometimes feelings like that, the yucky, the mucky and the sucky, can be real wellsprings of intuition, urging me forward.

    From your first para there, I wonder if these feeligns are there to point out and urge you past the whatever it is that's lurking. And maybe you can start one area at a time. What would make your writing life feel better? And go from there.

    Maybe writing is the pill, in the best of ways...

  2. While I do believe that there are some people who need drugs or therapy--the event at NIU last week is just one potential example--I would agree that there is too much reliance on pills and therapists to solve our problems. I would rather try to deal with the demons myself than to submit/surrender to someone else's opinion or some drug's control.

    And I agree with Chrys: writing is a great opiate to soothe my soul when it's troubled. Reading works fairly well, too.

  3. Great post, Linda, and a great question.

    My answer--definitely not. I know this dark place well. Haven't been there for a long, long time. But I've been there.

    Now I write about it, keep the demons at bay. Ironically, I find myself thankful for all the pain I put myself through. I've got something to say now.


  4. All, seems we're in agreement about exploring our dark emotions sans medication. As a pharmacist and researcher specializing in mental health and substance use disorders, I see both sides: the relatively healthy experiencing an acute bout of blues or anxiety, as well as the poor souls who are desperate to end it all... and would, if it were not for lithium or Prozac or Lamictal or Abilify. These ARE miracle drugs. Truly they are...

    Medications are a treatment, but not a panacea.

    For those of you concerned whether I'm teetering on the edge, the answer is no... although I have been suffering an existential angst of sorts (see below), mostly due to creative bottle necks and the age-old question: what IS it I am supposed to be doing with my life? (Yeah, Chrys, you know me so well, lol).

    Greta, super to see you again; I figured you'd resonate with this post. 'though I barely now you, I sense we are kindred souls...

    Stephen, yes, I prefer writing to any opiate to soothe my savage soul.

    Peace, all, and keep writing...