Dalia Maeroff | Senior Staff Illustrator
The mental health conversation can get a little contentious when it comes to medication. It’s not unfounded — psychiatric medication can lead to long-term health problems, troubling side effects and even death if not used with caution. When I was prescribed my first mood-stabilizer, the suburban white woman who lives deep within me emerged and began researching how to treat my symptoms with essential oils and 15% concentrated power of will.
I was once told by a girl on a date — the one that took place on wet grass, because of course it did — that mental health medications are addictive and bad for you but cocaine somehow is not. While my journey with these medications has been troubling and even frightening at times, I can confidently say that they’re the best thing that has ever happened to me, and I am pretty sure that they are much better than cocaine. After a lifetime of suffering from Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, now, I’m living with OCD. Laughing with OCD. Loving with OCD.
Thus, here are my top 10 favorite things about antidepressants, in order.
I have stopped killing plants
I am a complex person with many big dreams. I also have many very small dreams. One such dream has been to own plants. As a gay, the plant parent aesthetic is very attractive to me, and I’ve thought about it every time I’ve impulsively reinvented myself, but never followed through. It’s hard to keep a plant alive when it’s even more needy and fickle than you are. I’ve never had the mental bandwidth to keep these lovely creatures alive, but now that I have serotonin flowing through my veins again, I am the proud owner of three houseplants. Their names are Klaus, Sparky and Allegheny County, and they are thriving.
I have developed hobbies
I know how to do a lot of things. I usually don’t do very many. My apartment is littered with artistic ventures that I purchased the supplies for and never started. Fortunately, those days are over. I now have the energy and wherewithal to fulfill my dream of embroidering all of my plain crewneck sweaters with quotes from “Buffy the Vampire Slayer.” This is another very small dream, but it might lead me to being an uncredited artist on the Pinterest boards of sad white women, which is a very big dream.
I am coping with the latest Taylor Swift release
I am one of Taylor Swift’s biggest fans. I have been very angry at men I do not know ever since she released her first album when I was 7. However, Miss Swift has a habit of releasing very sad music when I am very fragile. I was going through a breakup right after “Reputation” came out, so I’m sure you can ascertain the emotional weight every surprise release adds to my figurative load. However, “You All Over Me” came out a while ago, and “Fearless” (Taylor’s Version) comes out today, and I am Mr. Perfectly Fine . I literally heard the words “No amount of freedom gets you clean/ I’ve still got you all over me” and continued to process emotions in a healthy way. How many of you can say that?
I am fully appreciating that boat that got stuck
The thing about OCD that’s hard to convey is how all-consuming it can be. Physically, I am going through the motions, but mentally, I am combing through every interaction I’ve had in the past week to make sure I didn’t call someone ugly on a Zoom call and forget about it. Thus, I was never able to enjoy things the way they are meant to be enjoyed. Thankfully, the SNRIs kicked in just in time for the Ever Given to get stuck in the Suez Canal. I truly cannot remember the last time I have laughed this hard, or cared about what happens to boats. Now I care so much. If you don’t, I’m sorry. Sorry to boat-ther you. Sorry.
I am actually doing the reading
Good news — books, essays and plays are actually very fun to read. Even better news — I will finally stop recycling this subpar joke.
My house is clean
Contrary to popular belief, my OCD doesn’t actually make me exceptionally neat. If I don’t make my bed in the morning I think my closest friends will be murdered, but that’s about it. OCD can also manifest in some mild hoarding tendencies, so my apartment is usually littered with glass containers that I think are too nice to throw away and every coaster that I ever used on my six-week-long trip to Ireland two years ago. I have enjoyed the ease and clarity that antidepressants have given me, because they have allowed me to let go of some clutter and put the coasters in the shadowbox that I bought for that very purpose and neglected until now.
I remember things
You may not know this, but things like stress, depression and anxiety can cause memory loss. When you experience all three, it’s not hard to feel like a very old man who is unable to keep appointments or remember a single moment before the age of 13. In the words of Celine Dion, it’s all coming back to me now. I’m mostly able to verbally commit to things and then remember that I did that, but I’m also remembering things from my midwestern upbringing like Cabela’s and Celine Dion. As someone who once memorized 120 digits of pi to win a gift card in seventh grade, I am thrilled to say that I feel like myself again.
I am consuming new media
I am most certainly still listening to Taylor Swift and watching “The X Files,” because I do like things that are good. But in this new and very magical serotonin-fueled world I’m living in, I am interested in new things. Groundbreaking, right? Some recommendations from me and my incredible taste — “The Umbrella Academy” and Jensen McRae.
I am able to complete silly little tasks
This one has been the most delightful development. With my beautiful, clean apartment and my cool new playlists and my reclaimed useless memories, productivity has increased significantly. I’m still most certainly in a pandemic slump, as there’s not much to do to remedy that, but I can confidently say that I will be graduating, and I’m not even going to knock on wood for fear of jinxing it. Life is much more than school as well, evident from the fact that I enjoy things like doing laundry and changing all the clocks for Daylight Savings time. For once, it is easier to do things than to not do them.
I am hilarious
I used to think that being mentally ill made me funnier, but I was still making jokes about doing the reading every other column. I don’t know if you know this, but when you are able to use your brain as it was intended, you are able to do some pretty amazing things. By “pretty amazing things,” I mean boat puns. It’s ferry impressive.
Alex Dolinger is a senior theatre arts major with a creative writing minor. They primarily write satire about how the world is ending. You can write to them at [email protected].