It’s father’s day today. Should have been a wonderful day, right? But it’s been a really tough one.
I’ve been taking a new medication, a migraine preventative, for about a week. It’s apparently the stuff docs used (rather ineffectively) to treat depression a few generations ago. In low doses, it’s now used as a sleeping pill and even a migraine prophylactic.
How’s it been working? Well, the first two days I slept like a log but my body felt like it was made of lead all day long. The third day I was uncharacteristically anxious and had a spotty sleep. The next night, I lay awake till 1:30am. The next night, till 4:00am. At which point I was beginning to worry about where all this was leading.
The worst part, though, has been how it’s affected me emotionally. To say I haven’t been myself would be an understatement. I’ve been incredibly irritable, like an elastic band stretched to the breaking point—and over the stupidest little things. Today was awful. Or rather, I was awful. I found myself berating my children, raising my voice as an irresistible intensity boiled over. I felt like I was watching myself yelling but couldn’t stop myself from doing it. Every cell in my body felt agitated. Later on I sat them down and explained what was going on and apologized, but that still doesn’t make things okay.
This afternoon as we were traveling in the van, the elastic band finally snapped, releasing a torrent of bitter tears and words to describe what I was going through. I felt so shallow, so unworthy of the unique Father’s Day cards so lovingly created by my children. Like such an awful father. Like an utter failure.
I can’t even begin to describe how painful and even lonely it’s been this week. When Shauna, my life partner, the love of my life, looks into my eyes, her expression says it all: “I don’t know this person.” She’s been so supportive, so patient with this adjustment, hopeful that this will bring some relief to my chronic migraines and cluster headaches. But my children have also had that “what’s wrong with daddy” look painted across their aghast faces too many times the past few days. Truth be told, I don’t even recognize myself. I don’t like the person who’s been living my life. I wouldn’t expect my family to like this person. “I’m still in here,” my heart cries. “You just can’t see me. I’m locked up and I don’t know how to get out.” And it kills me.
The thing is, I’ve still been having some headaches, so what’s the point? I can’t go through life not knowing myself, not being known and understood. I hate feeling like a stranger to myself, to my children, to my wife—stumbling through my own home wondering where I went and if I will ever return.
You know what? It’s not worth it. I’d rather suffer the stabbing pain. I want my old set of emotions back, my real mind, my sense of calm and joy. I’ll deal with the migraines, Lord. I’ll accept this thorn, knowing that as it pierces my skull I stand in your company, drinking in the grace that whispers inexpressible calm and strength in the midst of weakness. I welcome your divine thrumming, the peaceful chords that can spawn heaven’s song in my inner being.
I’m not taking another pill tonight.* Or the next. Lord Jesus, you called Lazarus from his grave. Please summon me too, command me forth to stand in your blazing sunlight. And let’s be rid of this pretender, this lesser person, this soul-less un-man that took my place for seven days too long.
Goodbye, evil twin. (In Jesus’ name).
* My doctor told me I can stop taking these at any time. I’m not advocating anyone else making medical decisions that could harm their well being or implying that all medication steals your identity. I understand that some folks can only be themselves when medication is helping out.