A New Addition to my Morning Routine: the Side-Effects of SSRIs.

I set an alarm an hour before my morning class starts. For twenty minutes, I sit and stare at my ceiling, wondering what demon might have cajoled me into signing up for an 8:10 AM class (it was a demon of pride and masochism), until a second alarm goes off and I will myself into fuzzy slippers. I recommend everyone get a pair of these slippers, but that’s a topic for another day.

It takes me fifteen minutes to paint on a suitable outside bitch face using makeup in various shades of expensive, unnecessary, and black. It then takes me ten minutes to get dressed and packed for class, three to brush my teeth and swish a little mouthwash, and two minutes to attempt to brush my hair. It only takes one second to swallow a pill. Apart from my fuzzy slippers, that pill is the most interesting part of my tedious morning routine.

Enough about my daily ablutions: I started taking Lexapro last month. For people who aren’t weird drug nerds like me, Lexapro is an SSRI. For people who are still not weird drug nerds like me, SSRIs are a class of antidepressant.

Don’t worry, I’m not gonna talk about depression. That’s just as unsexy to write about as it is to read about. Instead, I’m gonna talk about the drug itself.

Long story short: it works. Long story a little less short: it works, but it isn’t the best.

Imagine getting a big cut on your arm that never heals. And imagine that instead of trying to heal the cut with a bandage, you amputate the arm altogether and replace it with a prosthetic, Luke Skywalker style. Yes, my arm doesn’t have a cut anymore, but a part of me has been replaced. That prosthetic is better than what was there before, but it’s not me.

That long winded, possibly pointless analogy is what I think Lexapro feels like. I feel like a part of my head has been lobotomized and replaced with something else. What was removed was flawed and caused me a lot of trouble, but what it’s been replaced with is strange and new. And I actually dislike it a little; I wish I had the cut back instead of the plastic arm I’ve been given.

I can give an even better analogy, one a little more… New Jersian: My head was like a bumpy highway with a lot of potholes; always overrun, always accident-prone. Lexapro is like a sheet of winter ice that covers over that highway. The traffic has slowed down, but the cracks have only been covered over, until the ice melts (and the drug wears off).

Snickers has a slogan: You’re not you when you’re hungry. I love Snickers, but I think their tagline is a little off. It’s more like: You’re not you when you’re on medication. In a way, I miss the me that was miserable. And maybe that’s just that demon of masochism speaking again, but I doubt it. I miss my old self. The real arm. The cracked pavement.

But even still I swallow the pill, because I’m too scared to go back to the way it was.

Image credits: Annmarie Morrison