I write to survive

I have been taking Citalopram for a long time – long enough to forget what life was like before that drug came into my life.

Before Citalopram, I couldn’t manage a full-time week at work. I never faced this fact head-on, but it was there in the background – the stomach pains, the anxiety, the IBS, the teariness. I would always have to find some excuse to work part-time, or to find a job involving shift work – anything that would give me more time to myself.

I always needed more time than other people – time alone, time to relax, time to recharge myself and to force myself back out into the world again. The face I presented to the world was one-dimensional; a smiling, relaxed, outgoing face which cost more effort than anyone would ever realise.

I assumed that everyone was like this.

University almost killed me. Literally almost killed me. As I had suspected, I wasn’t able to cope with life, I was lost and vulnerable and I was in trouble almost as soon as I landed. Of the relationships I had before that time, few survived what happened to me and my failure to cope – including my relationship with my sister.

I came home, I recovered from an overdose, I tried to live a life and to forget all that had gone before, but my weakness remained. I believed that the world was wrong, that my failure to be able to do things that went completely against the grain, for 40 hours per week, for money, was because I could see the truth better than other people. These things were not what the human spirit was intended for. I believed that I was a writer and I just needed to write and somehow it would all be OK.

In this way I tried to reframe my weakness as strength and tried to carry on.

But I couldn’t write. I would lose whole days just staring at the wall, lying on the floor in tears, brain foggy and confused, body heavier than lead.

I managed to work, I pulled myself back from the brink. I was a bad employee, some days I was late and some days I rang in sick but I kept the jobs and when I was on good form my work was excellent.

My daughter came along and I coped. I was a single parent and I paid the bills (just about) and I looked after her (just about), I went back to university and I got a Masters degree and I got a part-time job and I managed all of that. And I loved her, more than I ever imagined was possible (still do, but more so). At least I succeeded in that.

I found a husband, I tried to make us into a family, and I thought that maybe I could be normal, maybe I could pull this off and make a proper life for her. But it was a difficult marriage and sometimes I was very upset; sometimes I lay awake all night, head spinning from an argument, and then cried all of the next day because I hadn’t slept and I was so tired. I stopped working because I couldn’t manage all 3 things – being a mother, being a wife, and working full-time. The hardest of the 3 things was being a wife.

My husband told me I should take some pills or we would have to split up. He did not like the crying.

The pills were a revelation.

For the first time in my life, I was able to behave normally. The brain fog lifted. I stopped crying. I felt no fear and my stomach stopped the eternal churning which had been going on for so long that I didn’t notice it. I found that for the first time in my life I could work full time, never taking a day off sick. I could concentrate on the inane, boring tasks that the work required, without day-dreaming and without wanting to do anything else.

I found the courage to leave my husband. I am almost at the stage where I earn enough to support my child. The tablets protect me from the destructive force of my emotions.  Almost.

I write to survive. To try to discover the better bits of myself, and maybe to safely rediscover the emotions that the Citalopram is masking.

This is an inward-gazing blog, written for myself, and I cannot promise fun or uplifting commentary – but it might be useful to someone in its own way. I hope so.

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