For the last year, I have suffered from fairly extreme anxiety. It has been bad enough to leave me more or less housebound, unable to leave for any reason, though the last few months I’ve managed to leave a handful of times thanks to a steady regimen of valerian root. But last week I was prescribed medication for my anxiety and depression, Lexapro, and while it seems to be working just fine for what it’s meant for, it has had one unforeseen and apparently not uncommon side effect: my creativity is gone. No matter how hard I try, I am now incapable of writing creatively. It feels as though that portion of my brain has been switched off or excised completely. And given that Lexapro is an anti-depressant, I’m just as equally unable to truly be as upset about it as I think I’m entitled to be. On the one hand, it’s almost refreshing that it doesn’t bother me so much, but on the other, I feel a little cheated. I am a writer. It’s all I am. It’s all I want to be. I want to write books and short stories and screenplays and graphic novels. I have amazing ideas that I need to share with the world through my writing. And now, at least as long as I’m on this medication which I do desperately need, I’ve had not only my most precious ability taken from me, but I can’t even feel the proper emotions about it.
I know what a lot of people say about medication. They say it’s unnecessary or harmful or over-prescribed. And I’m sure they’re right in some cases. I think we do live in an over-prescribed world. But I also know that I genuinely have need of this medication. That’s what makes this so frustrating. It’s forcing me to choose between living a normal life and what makes my life worth living. If I go off my meds, I can write just like I dream of writing. But my quality of life will be miserable. Or I can stay on my meds and lose my dream but be artificially content with it. I already know which one I’m going to choose. I’m going to stay on my meds. I’ve suffered too long and worked too hard to finally get them to give them up. But I don’t know what I’ll do if I’m unable to get my creativity back. Because even if I won’t feel depressed about it, I’ll know that I should be depressed about it. I’ll know that something substantial is missing from my life and even if I can’t feel the hole it left behind, it’ll still be there all the same.
I don’t know if it’s possible to break through the medication’s effects and win my creativity back, but if it is, I’m going to do it. I don’t want to be forced to choose between having the quality of life I deserve and my dream of being a writer. I can have both. I will have both. But not today. And probably not this month. So for that reason, I think I can safely say that I am bowing out of NaNoWriMo 2012. It’s heartbreaking (or would be if I were chemically capable of feeling heartbreak right now) but I don’t think there’s a way around it. Every time I try to think creatively, it feels like I’m trying to lift a limb that’s been amputated. There’s just no connection anymore. So for now, I need to focus my energies on getting better and trying to make those connections again. And I can’t do that if I’m worrying about finishing a book in the next two weeks. So I’m relieving myself of that stress.