You know how you’re not supposed to ever just STOP taking certain kinds of drugs–namely mood altering substances?
I unintentionally stopped taking a prescription medication over the holiday and the results of this have been…. Well, in a few words: Strange? Trippy? Inspiring? Something along those lines.
I’m prescribed an anti-anxiety/depression drug called Citalopram (the generic form of Celexa) and I’ve found that after the initial adjustment period, that have effectively put me more at ease.
My doctor warned me when I began taking them back in April of 2011 that it’s not a good idea to just abruptly stop taking them. If I no longer felt that the drugs were necessary, I would need to be gently weaned off to avoid hostile side effects.
I should probably preface this story by saying that I haven’t had the best of experiences with my pharmacy. I have only stayed with Rite Aid because they’re right across the street from my house. Even when the wait lines are impossibly long or they’ve forgotten to refill my prescription, I’ve stuck it out because I’m some kind of big, lazy bum.
Last week, I received a text message from my pharmacy informing me that my refill was ready to be picked up. When I arrived at the pharmacy, I was informed that no, my medicine actually wasn’t ready. They actually had no idea what I was talking about or who I was. I shouldn’t have been surprised, but I was. My choices were to A.) Wait 15 minutes or B.) Come back the next day.
Because I’d spent the majority of my day running errands, I decided that the best thing for me to do for my tired bones and hungry belly in that moment was to just heave a heavy sigh and come back tomorrow. After all, I still had one pill left, so really there was no harm done.
Naturally, I forgot to go back the next day and when I remembered the following day, the pharmacy was already closed. The holidays combined with my forgetfulness meant that things went on like this for five-ish days.
Yesterday marked day 6 without Citalopram in my system. I woke up and felt inspired—which, honestly, this had been the first time I’d felt this way in at least two years. I wake up feeling like I could actually create something worth creating and without forcing it.
As the day wore on, I noticed that I began to feel very jittery, like I have too many cups of coffee—even for me. I was very uncomfortable and ended up picking up my drugs right after work and thankfully, these symptoms seemed to improve shortly after I took my pill for the day. Still, I couldn’t shake thinking about my morning and how I had felt. It was so nice to wake up and feel creative.
Lately, I’ve been dreaming very vividly and often. For the last two nights I’ve awoken with strange feelings that I can’t quite place. For some reason, these mind movies have given me a will to write.
For much of my childhood, up through my adolescence, my life was structured around swimming. I was a competitive swimmer and so weeknights were dedicated to swim practice and the weekends, swim meets. The sport was for a long while my passion, but later came to be an ongoing commitment I couldn’t quite weasel my way out of. Mom called it “my anti-drug” and by the end of high school, if were it not for the social aspect, I’d probably have dramatically referred to it as my own special breed of slavery.
At age 25, I haven’t hopped into a pool with the intention of swimming across it in many a moon. But last night, I dreamt of being at my high school’s pool: the very same pool I practiced at even as a child.
Looking back on this sequence, I’m surprised by how well my memory was able to recall the facility: The accordion folded bleachers and beamed ceilings. The tiled floors and bricked walls, each in shades of sponge cake yellowish-browns that made the 1970s era deck look eternally dirty. The echoing sounds the gutters would make when few were around and no one was actually in the pool.
In the dream, swimming across the pool took much longer than I remembered, but I made it happen with the same strength and grace I used to possess as an intensely trained 16-year-old swimmer. It was a time before I wanted to abandon the sport all together and I still thought the way my painted fingers entered the water at the top of a stroke was beautiful.
I showered in the locker room with a group of unfamiliar girls. Just like we did it back then, everyone kept their bathing suits on and we borrowed each other’s shampoo, conditioner and soap. Half the showers didn’t work when I was a child and they didn’t in this dream, either. We shared. We were a team and we acted like it.
Suddenly, I felt compelled to study the unfamiliar faces around me. I realized in that moment that something was off and I felt strange. I had been trying to blend in, but the smallish group that was there knew that I didn’t belong. I was not what I seemed: a 25-year-old woman in an unsophisticated teen’s body. I realize that I’m expected to coach and to lead them, but it just isn’t right.
That’s when the mass mounds of rainbow suds and bubbles pile up around me.
I’m in a Canadian hotel, a place that’s already seen it’s glory days. It’s known to me then that the actor Tim Curry frequents the place and is something of an attraction. People from all over come to dance with and take pictures with him.
From my bulky coat’s pocket I pull out a series of postcard sized photographs. One of them is of my father and his friends when they’re young. They’re all in their bathing suits, some are wearing snorkeling gear, and they’re all posed under a running shower head. Tim Curry is off to the left side of the frame. He’s completely dry, standing outside of the shower, positioned in some kind of “Thriller” dance pose.
Wandering around the hotel’s lobby, I see rows and rows of aging, framed photos. Some of them are even in black in white. In these photos, people are smiling and laughing, raising their glasses in celebration. The photos appear to have been taken inside of a fancy train car. A party-hardy Tim Curry is in many of these photos. Many of Jim Henson’s Muppets appear in others.
There are lots of bizarre statues and works of “art” throughout the hotel and Tim Curry is taking large groups on tours to see it all. For a while I follow then, but soon realize that Tim Curry and I will never meet.
I begin attempting to navigate the hotel on my own, but locating the exit turns out to be difficult. Though no one has told me, I understand that there is only one way to leave the hotel. I have to take a very specific path in a particular order.
While I attempt to figure out how many times I should I take the elevator up and down, which hallways I should take, which statues I walk by, I notice this small room. Inside is a statue that has been inspired by Tim Curry, a surrealistic take on his “Rocky Horror Picture Show” Frankenfurter role. Here I have flashes of Curry posing near this statue, cheesily grinning at a mob of photographers. Because their cameras are so massive, they all resemble cameras with legs.
I ask a man in an elevator to help me find the exit, but he’s lost, too. Instead of sticking together, though, we go our separate ways.
When I am finally able to direct myself out of the hotel, the landscape is different. I’ve apparently come out the back way and there’s a large, unkempt building across the parking lot. The building is protected by large fence that’s covered in orange rust.
The fence has a Victorian look to it, as there are lots of interesting swirls and shapes in the metal work. A tree’s branches are wrapped up in the metal. It’s such an interesting sight that I reach for my phone and take a photo of it.
What does it all mean, you ask? I don’t know. You tell me.
I guess I’m just pleased that the vividness of these dreams got my brain juices flowing. At the same time, I’m sure you can understand that they also scared me a bit. Until I see Dr. Howard again, back on Citalopram I go.