You ever listened to the words of Sam Sparro’s Black and Gold? I’m listening to it right now. And the first verse pretty much describes a day in the life of me. Fish climbing out of the water, growing legs and starting to walk the earth. Basically, everything just going crazy. Nothing going to plan. Yup, that’s been my last few years. Especially since a certain person is no longer here. My Mother. January 2018 will be two years since she left me. Yes me. No one else mattered to her – duh! Past tense – ugh! How did Mummy die? Catatonic shock at 62. On the dining table. The same dining table I did my homework on, had English Literature lessons with one of my favourite English teachers and sat at many a soulless family meal. The same dining table that houses her favourite photograph of herself and her first grandson – my son – the day she met him in London back in 2008.
No warning. She just died. Well, that’s not entirely true. We had all the warnings. We had all the resources. She still died. And she’s better dead. Trust me. She’s at peace. Me, however, I am in a dark, dark place. The darkest to date. And it’s scaring me. Wasn’t the best daughter but she was the best Mummy. She loved me no matter what. I miss that the most. I knew I had mental health issues from a very young age. `I was extremely extroverted from birth. Well read. Outspoken. Fearless. My anger never seemed real. I always felt that I was bursting through my clothes in a Bruce Banner kind of way. But then I mused that I hated green and what kind of name is “The Hulk”, anyway? I digress and unapologetically so. Sometimes I feel coherence, like sanity, is something in my past. But surely, inability to complete one’s sentence is a symptom of insanity. Symptom? Is that the politically-correct word? Can one have symptoms of insanity or are we all just insane? I am. Are you? Did I tell you the world has gone fucking mad? Trying to be like me, I suppose.
OK Michelle. Focus! Ha! That’s another thing I used to be able to do. Focus. And love. I used to be able to love. Now, I am not too sure. Great! Adele has just come on. It’s like my rambling has its own score. How dramatic! If Fluoxetine is an antidepressant then Adele is its antonym. And that is not an insult. It is a testament to her power as an artist. She can make you feel sad on your wedding day. And why shouldn’t you? The day you get married is the day you fuck your life right up. All the way up! You know it’s true. Nobody is listening to your thoughts. Nobody is reading this with you. It’s just you and me. Are you married? If you are, you know what I am talking about it. It’s hard. It’s lame. You want to run away. You want to not cook for your husband. You are fed up of wearing lingerie that he doesn’t notice. Well, that’s your fault for buying the stupid lingerie. Men want their women wet, naked and willing. Everything else – just props. And you’re fed up of being super Dad and being told that all men are the same. Fed up of trying to walk the sensitive plank of life around today’s woman, while trying to be a good man. A good husband. A good Father. Marriage is hard. Who likes to share anyway?
Ok where am I? Mummy. Mental health. Me. Rambling. Adele. Someone like you. Marriage. Yes. What I am trying to say with all of this is I get you. Which is weird because no-one gets me. Maybe you will. I don’t have much hope left. But someone told me that I hope instead of asking. So I will ask. Will you get me? Because I am hanging on by a thread. I’ll get through. My Mummy made me strong enough but this feeling of being alone in a crowd is tiring. So if you are feeling alone and angry and sad yet happy and confused and tired but can’t sleep and sometimes very hot yet you’re shivering – then you are not alone. If you heard what someone said yet act immediately after like they didn’t say it and this makes you question your reality – you are not alone. If you worry about little things. The littlest of things. And in that worrying, you somehow make this little thing, the biggest of things – you are not alone. If you must clean the Universe before you write that email that’s two weeks late. If you stare at … anything and wonder about … everything, yet do nothing – you are not alone. If procrastination is your daily detention – you are not alone.
When I moved to London in 2004, I was overwhelmed. In good ways and bad. Two years in, I felt my bubbly island girl lustre fading, and I couldn’t explain why. I was happy. I remember going to the doctor and trying to explain that I felt suicidal yet I had no reason to want to end my life. I painted the picture of my daily routine of begging the bus to knock me over as I crossed Wandsworth Bridge Road as I ran for my own bus – No. 28 or No. 295. I knew he thought I was just a homesick girl who was spoilt and had nothing to complain about. I mentioned my Mummy a bit and her mental health challenges. Anxiety. Panic attacks. Who knows what she was really going through. All I know is that when she did, she was scared. I saw it in her eyes. He nodded. I felt that he wasn’t taking me seriously. What I didn’t realise was to him I was textbook. He mumbled quickly without any empathy that I had Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) and a mild case of depression and that I should take fluoxetine for six months and see how I feel.
Fluoxetine? Smartphones weren’t around then to allow access to Google what the doctor said, so that I could question him and show him that I am a know-it-all and fraudulently so. The Internet can make anyone … well … anyone, and it makes me a know-it-all. So back then I had to go old school and ask the good doctor what was this flu – I couldn’t even say that word then. Ha! I’ve been taking Fluoxetine ever since then which makes it more than ten years. 20mg a day. Then 40. All the way to 80 – the maximum dosage. He looked at me as if I had asked what was Coca-Cola or if Ireland and England were the same countries.
“Prozac. Fluoxetine is the generic name.”
I remember walking to the pharmacy. I talked to myself all the way there. Asking myself if this is what I came to the white people country to do – to go mad. Generic? There was nothing generic about me taking antidepressants, my friend. SSRIs to be specific. I know this now. Then, I was clueless. Part of me wanted to dump the prescription in the nearest bin and run from it like an ISIS bomber. But that would make me a failure because surely survival means you haven’t done a good job. I digress. Ok I wanted to see what the pills looked like. A friend of mine had once taken the drug, Paxil, and we had some laughs about it. It wouldn’t be so bad. Worth a try. So ten minutes and seven pounds ninety-five pence later, I had three months supply of fluoxetine.
I’d be lying if I gave you a detailed memory of those six months. But I can summarise. I remember sweaty palms and grinding my teeth. I remember hot flashes on the outside of my thighs. I remember some headaches. Increase in appetite and sometimes not at all. I slept well enough but that was probably the marihuana and the fact that I worked damn hard in London. All in all, I felt it helped and fluoxetine become my true life partner. I’ve dabbled in a few others. Uppers. Downers. All to try and keep me calm. Because when I am not calm, the world should thank its lucky star that I am in this frail female body of mine. Even though I am almost six feet tall and very, very strong when I have one of my anger spells. Sometimes I feel that I have a demon in me. My voice sounds different. But it’s because I am shouting and not breathing properly and getting myself worked up. I believe there is a scientific reason for everything and even when it is not always so clear, one can always find the quest for balance in everything.
What is balance? I have no idea. What is peace? Something I long for. I hope to get it in sharing my mental ramblings with you. Mental health is not taken seriously in the world at large, far less here in Trinidad and Tobago. The St. Ann’s Psychiatric Hospital intrigues me. I have so many conversations with those who wander the nearby streets. I have many a conversation with a stranger, not only to me, but a stranger to the world, clearly forgotten by their loved ones. I sometimes feel like that. Do you? Are we any different than the clinically insane when things go wrong? I don’t have answers but at least I can let those who despair know that they are not alone. Despair is my middle name. Well, no. My middle name is Antoinette. Posh, I know.
OK, until the next post … time for my meds.