Out of It

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4th Avenue, Tucson

4th Avenue, Tucson

MONDAY — I’m about two weeks into tapering off oxycodone, and I have to say that I’m feeling pretty good about the whole process. What’s hard to know is how much of my melancholy, if any, has to do with chemicals rather than emotional health.

On one level, I’m dissatisfied with myself, as I have been since my illness began in 1998, but the extent of that dissatisfaction has varied enormously over the past fourteen years, mostly according to how much energy I have. When I’m Down, it’s hard to remember having been Up for any length of time… yet I remember in a remote sort of way, as if it were someone else’s memory, that I have been consistently happy for decades at a time. Using 1966 to 1970 as a benchmark, I’ve been genuinely filled with gratitude for every sunrise… often euphoric, seeming to have achieved a permanent sense of well-being. In times of difficulty, I’ve even been thankful that my emotions were “normal”: I could be sad or angry without ever feeling unsafe.

Being kind

Now, on the reduced dose of oxycodone, there are periods between doses when I feel like a yo-yo stuck on Down. One minute I’m making an omelette, the next I’m anxious and despairing. Even the certainty that within twenty minutes of taking the next dose I’ll be steady, possibly cheerful, brings no comfort. On the other hand, since beginning the vitamin D regimen that’s making the oxycodone reduction possible, there’s a more substantial quality to my joy.

goofy-in-front-yard

Goofy in October

For the sake of perspective… in the thirty-three years since the four-year nightmare that corresponded to my first marriage, I’ve been depressed for less than twenty-four months:

  • a year or so after Mom died in August 1974
  • six months during Dad’s illness until his death in March 1985
  • the first three months of my banishment (June-August 2011) and, off and on, the past three months

I don’t include the eight years in Omaha, 2003 to 2011, because I recall it as a time more of fatigue than of depression. I was weary and, after the Estrangement, often sad, but my response was the spiritual journey, the writing and meditating, that was profoundly heartening.

Now it seems I have my work cut out for me:

  • prayer, meditation, and study
  • blogging, podcasting
  • attention to diet and exercise
  • Catalina and other Keeping in Touch
  • social life
  • dance
  • Writing for Dollars

Seems pretty light, but we’re being kind to ourselves….

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