Claudia Vera

READING 3 ︎︎︎ 100mg

Prozac came in November. When you are prescribed a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI), doctors seem to make a point of skirting around the side effects that will come with the medication. It took about ten minutes of asking to finally hear that yes, Prozac does tend to cause weight changes and mood swings and you may feel like you want to die, and yes, your libido will essentially be fucked (for want of a less cruelly ironic term). Despite popular belief, it's not the fact that you may want to jump in front of traffic that makes SSRI’s so terrifying. It’s the lack of fucking that ends up driving you crazy.  

He came in January. We met the same way most people who end up thinking they’re in love meet – a chance encounter, then a few awkward dates that morph into us laying in bed and discussing the names of our future dogs (Charlie and Theo, both lab mixes.) He was a salt of the earth man who loved grilling on Saturdays and doing things like call his parents out of the blue just to ask how they’re doing. From the first day he acted as though we’d been destined for marriage since our high school sweetheart days, instead of having met at some shitty bar on a random Thursday night on the way to our respective bathrooms. I could feel him desperately trying to get closer to me in that cramped and dingy hallway, and for a small period of time I tried my best to satisfy this craving of his. It would be silly to say he knew everything about me. There is always something hidden underneath, waiting to come out at the right time and disrupt whatever feels safe.

For the longest time (if one may consider 90 days a long time), my depression kept its disruption at bay. There was no disconnect or numbness, just simple highs and lows that allowed my psyche to ebb and flow, crashing over him in a salty tangled mess. Crying became a joke between him and me, something I did so frequently that it seemed as though one day I would dry up entirely before his eyes. He would call me Old Faithful, like the geyser in Yellowstone that erupts in a spectacle of steaming water. A man named Harry Woodward discovered a mathematical relationship to describe the intervals of time between Old Faithful’s eruptions. They call it a “bimodel distribution,” which is just a fancier way of saying that every outbreak depends on the last. I thought about this phenomenon a lot whenever I found myself having one of my own eruptions. Something about that dependency seemed dangerous to me, and that also made it beautiful.
 Nowadays I spend my nights watching videos of Old Faithful, wishing I could be more like her – in her explosiveness, her wetness. Watching those eruptions, I feel the emptiness deep within my groin, like I’m somehow able to fuck the absence itself. He blamed the Prozac, cursing that small orange bottle every time his advances were met with a feeble I’m just not in the mood. The day he yelled at me for not reciprocating his hungry gropes, I knew I was not the geyser. I was the vast arid nothingness surrounding that opening of promised ecstatic projection. He began to cry, as if somehow I had lied to him about being in love because I could no longer fulfill his needs (or be filled by his).

I’d been on the medication for three months, enough time for the chemicals to start helping me get out of bed in the morning and providing me with enough energy to shower after two days. I felt both human and alien in the peak of the SSRI’s success. On one hand, I was no longer a sum of my depressive parts, a mass of breathing cells lying in bed and waiting for life to somehow move me forward. But fucking, making love, procreating, whatever you want to call it – I was no longer a capable nor active participant in the physical realm of two people with a shared passion. If I would have been alone, such isolation would never have been so pronounced. But with him, and his sulking, and his constant attempts, and his guilt, I felt that loneliness seep into the very walls of my personhood. I became a useless effigy, my head a giant capsule of Fluoxetine, my vagina a mere gaping wound that my salt of the earth lover could not stop rubbing like it was a genie lamp that somehow lost its magic.

I came in April. It was in my sleep one humid night, about three weeks after he finally gave up his attempts, deciding I was not worth the effort or perceived lack thereof. In my dream, I was no longer an empty, cavernous excuse of a woman; I was a monument of nature itself, a phenomenon of water and pressure and sulfur that could suddenly burst into the air with no desperate hands waiting to claim the byproduct. Up I went, in all my wet glory, misting and spurting and crashing back onto the ground only to do it all again. No longer a spectacle; I was the performance, grand and seductive and entirely capable. Waking up alone never felt more romantic.