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There's got to be something wrong with me. I can't drive worth donkey dick. Going for a spin
with me behind the wheel can make an atheist speak in tongues. During the last four months
owned a car, I collided with three moving objects and several stationary ones.
I didn't feel too good late summer '94. Poor memory, lack of motor control, fatigue, tremors,
mental disorientation, a constant tightness in my side. A force seemed to be molding my face into
the expression of a first chair cellist being handed an obligatory glass of wine poured from a bottle
with a plastic cork. Insomnia, social anxiety.
After several minutes of prodding my mind and body, the Doctor raised his finger. See
my finger? Yes, I do. Watch my finger. Back and forth. I shifted position with a paper rustle and
vinyl squeak, bracing myself for the narration of his finger's dance: You see, the electrical
impulses in the brain of a normal person your age look like this, but yours..."
His test seemed designed to verify nothing more than the information I had entered about my high
school education on the Patient Data Form. I guess it did show that the Good Doctor had learned
the precise location to strike the kneecap to cause leg muscles to twitch. His diagnosis:
Depression and Essential Tremor. The nurse will come to get a sample of my blood to
ensure the proper functioning of my thyroid. He told me I should consider visiting my
HMO's psychiatrist. They'd give me the number at the front desk.
As the clinic was short two nurses that day, I had time to thumb through the anatomy book and
stew while waiting for the blood drawing. No radioactive milkshakes? Is that all? No overnight
observations with electrodes attached to several small shaved patches on my scalp? No being
strapped to a rotating table inside a three ton magnetic donut?
Depression? Phooey! I didn't forget what I needed to do in St. Cloud after driving 45 minutes to
get there just because I was a little down in the mouth. Being in the doldrums was an unlikely
cause of my lumbering balance which caused three wipeouts in the same week while reaching for
the company phone book. Even a dreadfully depressed person should be able to steady his hand
enough to keep most of the Froot Loops in the spoon en route to la bouche.
So. I walked out of the office and found my way back to my car without too much trouble and
went home. I pulled into the driveway and gathered my things. Satchel, checkbook, empty
can...uh...I said nothing to myself as I turned the car around to take my blood sample back
to the lab on the floor below the Neurologist's. The nurse had told me the suite number of
the suite number of the room to drop the sample at azfter I had claimed to have the Psychiatrist's
number in a book at home.
Frustration! I'd exhausted all the obvious self-prescribed therapies: Ginseng, exercize, keeping a
dream diary, vitamins, thinking "Out! Out, Evil Thoughts" when I took a dump. Well, maybe I
Depression, eh? I could lick that! After a brief reflection I felt like a new manno longer would I
have to worry that I was showing the early sings of MS, Parkinson's Disease or any other
degenerative disorder; nor was I plagued by the fear that I had suffered irreversible neurological
damage as a result of my favorite toys adolescenta four ounce vial of mercury and anything
labeled "Intentional misuse by concentrating and inhaling contents may be harmful or fatal." I was
just a little BLUE, that's all! Everybody has their ups and downs.
I took an inventory of my life. I was twenty...um, twenty six years old and twenty-two thousand
dollars in debt, excluding the balance left on my car. My job at a convenience store/gas station
chain was not exactly a fountainhead of self-esteem. I had lived in Minnesota three years and still
had not found a place where I could consistently buy fresh Marlboro Reds. I was four years
passed my self-imposed deadline of being a cult hero at 23 and I kept on getting this huge zit on
the rear of my left earlobe. Shucks, no wonder I was a little down! But I could change!
I began to devise a plan of action. I didn't need a psychiatrist to help me out of my slump. I'd
read more, exercize, breathe deeply, buy a second alarm to signal my bedtime, get some new
clothes and a better stereo, only drink liquor downstairs, try to think of a way to trick a beautiful
girl into having sex with me, contact Phillip Morris, Ltd. and familiarize myself with their
distribution process, switch to Marlboro Mediums--er no, perhaps I should start slow by making
a rule never to break off the filters of Marlboro Reds...Pre-write checks for the following year's
credit card payments--maybe then they'd raise my limit and I could get more stuff! I fervently
scribbled the credo by which I would live from then on, only stopping to switch CD's, go to the
bathroom, and check my mailbox on Tuesdays and Saturdays.
After several weeks of feeling good about my misery, I read an interview with Fontaine Toups of
Versus in Chickfactor #6. In it she said she went to the doctor because she was tired all the time
so they prescribed an anti-depressant. Man, Fontaine is cool as shit and if she could do it...
I called her up (we don't know each other) to thank her for sparking my courage to make the
stigmatized journey to the psychiatrist. "In Chickfactor? Oh, yeah I remember that. What I said
was they gave me a prescription, I didn't say I filled it--I thought it was dumb, 'here, take these
pills, they'll make you feel better.' I thought that was stupid."
For the first two weeks I had felt better than I thought possible. Most anti-depressants take a
few weeks to kick in, the effect I immediately received was most likely due to the amphetamine-
like side effect of this particular medication. The most significant side effect of Wellbutrin is
seizure--to lessen the chance of this, the dose is slowly increased.
On the he first day I took two pills at once I had never had so much fun running off blueprints of
convenience stores. I occasionally experienced the intense adrenaline rush usually reserved for
peeks over hundred foot cliffs or falling in love. Because I didn't see any sharp drop-offs I figured
I must be in love. I chose someone different to love quicker than I could turn the pages Barely
Within three weeks I had met with the Pastor of my parent's churchI needed to discuss a matter
of great importance. I'm not sure exactly why I needed to talk to him so desperately, but I recall it
had something to do with my elementary school being on the other side of a busy street. This
was what I thought at the time to be the first manifestation of Wellbutrin's side effect described in
the packaging insert as "new emotional problems."
After a month of insomnia, lack of sleep had over-ridden any benefit I was receiving. So I was
to combat this unpleasant side effect. It worked great. About twenty minutes after taking 5-10
mg's, my ears would ring. Then it was 10 hours later. A therapeutic dose (one to combat
depression) is 50 mg, but it's side effects (sleepiness being the most common) manifest
themselves with much smaller doses such as I was taking. About a week later my nose began to
bleed without the aid of a finger. I first attributed this to the ammonia fumes from the blueprint
machine. Then I realized I hadn't taken a poo in about a week. There was a Godzilla-like
dehydration factor thrown in to my accumulating pile of side dishes. No amount of water or fiber
supplements helped. After a few days of fleet enemas to aid my rectum in performing its God-
given duties, I called it quits. The Wellbutrin had aggravated my tremor so much I couldn't carry a
cup filled two-thirds full without spilling--even with both hands. It was time to move on.
I liked the fact that I had been on a lesser known drug. It made me feel my sickness was special. I
had to fight the urge to say "Naw, I don't want ProzacI want something a little more obscure."
Assured by the sentinel of health care professionals guarding my well-being that Prozac
was the second most "activating" anti-depressant, I eagerly filled the prescription on the
way home from the clinic. The fist few days of therapy I had to put up with a sickening
headachea sprained ankle in my head. The first few hours after a dose were kind of
wiggly; I felt "off."
I caught up on my sleep with several eighteen hour naps, but didn't recover the jitters I had
mistaken for alertness on Wellbutrin. I no longer needed Doxipen to sleep, and am looking
forward to my next case of flu to take the does I have left. The two or three times I took Doxipen
after my Wellbutrin Period, it induced at least half a day of deep sleep followed by twelve hours
I don't think Prozac had any effect on me other than making me want to lay in bed all the time
even more than before and more constipation. After my third Fleet enema, I called it quits. When
reading about Wellbutrin, I learned that it acts like a local anesthetic when placed on the tongue. I
had often bit my pill in half and crunched up a few crumbs to numb my gum. It was quite
pleasant and I found myself enjoying the bitter flavor. Doxepin had a similar effect, but more
painful than numbing. Prozac just tasted gross.
Zoloft is quite similar to Prozac, but has less and different side effects. A smaller portion of
pharmaceutical industry's patrons receive help from it than Prozac. It blew my mind to read that
in the pre-marketing studies of Prozac, an entire forty percent of the group of moderately to
severely depressed participants rated "no change" on the Depression Richter Scale after six weeks
of therapy. A smaller portion than that scored "greatly improved," the remaining percentage
either scored "somewhat better" or "worse." Dr. Goad (yes, his real name) thought Zoloft may
work well for me because diarrhea is a common side effect. I did have a couple explosive
evacuations a half hour after a few doses, but I was finally back to my "easy-not greasy"
functioning. I threw up about six times after taking the pill without food, and I have one of the
strongest stomachs I'm intimately aquatinted with. During my Zoloft phase, I rescued a cat from
the pound. I call him "Zoey" for short.
I began to sound like a broken record at the Psychiatrist. "I understand that depression is a
chemical imbalance, but I really think I need a complete work up. I don't think I'm depressedit's
some sort of other imbalance. I understand that depression is a chemical imbalance..."
At this point I should mention that "they" are Dr. Eric Goad and his Psychiatric Nurse, Diane. I
had monthly meetings for approximately an hour with Diane.
It is my firm belief that Dr. Goad appeared before me in the flesh on two separate occasions, the
first time in the form of a sitting figure. I experienced his presence for the better part of five
minutes. I remember the books and plaques on the wall of the room as vividly as I do his torso,
limbs, and head; I am certain it was not a hallucination.
The second time he was with me phycically during my nine months of drug therapy was while I
sat in Diane's officehe was a standing figure this time. This visitation lasted only for a period of
fifteen to twenty seconds, but was as real and tactile as the first encounter. I remember he asked
about my bowls. Diane saw him tooI judged from her reaction that she was accustomed to these
occurrences. I asked of her in a quivering voice after he disappeared"Diane...was, was that
Doctor Goad?" She knowingly looked at me with a smile and said softly and simply, "Yes, it
They asked me if I had repetitive thoughts or performed rituals. The only repetitive thought I
could think of was, "You're not listening to me."
I was pressed for a different answer. "Uh, like, would flossing between two teeth and repeating
this act over and over until I run out of spaces, and sometimes doing it twice in a rowwould that
be one?" They decided that because I kept telling them "I don't think I'm depressed," I was
obsessive-compulsive. I was willing to try anything. I had let my health insurance lapse because I
needed money to fix my car (again). More money than I had saved from the ads taken out in my
fanzine (which had been coming out "in a few weeks" for half a year).
I directly paid $126 for my first month's supply of Luvox (Catch phrase: "Luvox-Try It for
OCD-It Works!") intending to pay the missed month's premium along with the next month's, and
therefore be reimbursed by my health insurance company for the grotesque bill. I couldn't make
the payment and my policy expired. Dr. Goad and his demons would no longer try the latest and
most fashionable pharmaceuticals on me, a more than willing guinea pig.
Some time within the next few months I discovered that The Red Dragon Restaurant and Bar sold
Wondrous Punches, packing a wonderful five shots of rum, for $5.50 (Catch phrase: "Try 'em for
what ills youthey work!). I scrutinized my old health insurance policy but they wouldn't have
footed the bill for this most effective therapy even if I had been able to pay the premium.
I have not communicated with Dr. Goad, or his Archangels since. It's not as though he's the only
health care provider in my past not to plunk me down into an errant category of sickness. After
going to medical school for over ten years, not to look up my symptoms in a reference book and
see that every one of them was due to Wilson's Disease is, uh, typical of an unpublished golfer.
My malady could have been confirmed with almost 100% certainty by observing the rings of
copper deposits on the edge of my cornea. An optometrist had noted some "unusual
discoloration" during a routine eye exam (also prompted by my willing chauffeur) in Spring 94.
"You've got some unusual discoloration in your cornea. Has anyone noted that before?"
"Well I won't worry about it if you don't."