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Like a puppet on a string

It took about 10 days or so before I got over the worst of the side effects from quitting my anti-depressant, Effexor. I still do have the occasional brain zap. (Along with the jolt, I get the impression of sound, in the back of my head, of one of those old Chargex machines, sliding over the credit card and then back again.)

I can handle the occasional zap, no problem. I’m just happy to be rid of the constant zaps, and the nausea.

Now the big question is, am I still depressed? Was the depression lurking all along under the cover of the anti-depressant?

It’s an interesting question, and not so simple.

I’ve felt a lot more emotional since quitting Effexor. I’m much more easily moved to tears. I get easily and instantly choked up by sad stories, happy stories, heartwarming stories, cheesy commercials, and so on. Even when I can see that I’m being emotionally manipulated, I seem powerless to resist it.

So anyway, I thought I’d share a couple of these stories with you. Stories that made my throat clench and rendered me powerless to speak for fear my voice would crack and I’d start sobbing helplessly.

1. A homeless man and his homeless dog

There was a dog at my office the other day. He was cute and shy and he was wearing a sweater. He was there with a woman who told Karen his story, and Karen told me.

The dog belongs to a homeless man who is getting old and frail. He won’t stay in a shelter because he can’t bring his dog there.

The man and his dog are regulars at a local drop-in centre that serves food to street people. One day a couple of weeks ago, another street person noted that the temperature was dropping, and insisted on taking the man and his dog to a pet store, where he purchased a dog sweater for $25. He paid for it with the change he’d panhandled.

(That’s the part where I got all choked up and had to fight hard not to burst into tears…picturing him counting out $25 in quarters and dimes and pennies.)

Since then, a woman who volunteers at the drop-in centre offered to take care of his dog while he gets some of the medical help he needs. She brings the dog to the centre every day, so the man and the dog can spend some time together. (She’s the woman who was in our office with the dog.)

And how’s this for a happy ending? Apparently a home has been found for the man, and arrangements have been made for him and his dog to move in.

(I’m getting all weepy again.)

2. Grandma & Santa Claus (edited for length)

This one’s pretty cheesy. It’s currently making the Christmas rounds. (Thanks Merle!)

When my big sister dropped the bomb: “There is no Santa Claus! Even dummies know that!” I tore across town on my bike to Grandma’s house.

Grandma was not the gushy kind, never had been. I went to her because I knew she would be straight with me.

I told her everything. “No Santa Claus?” she snorted.”Ridiculous! Don’t believe it. That rumor has been going around for years!”

Then she took me to Kerby’s General Store and handed me ten dollars. That was a bundle in those days. “Go buy something for someone who needs it. I’ll wait for you in the car.”

I’d often gone shopping with my mother, but I’d never shopped for anything all by myself.

For a few moments I just stood there, confused, clutching that ten-dollar bill, wondering what to buy, and for whom.

I thought of my family, my friends, my neighbors, the kids at school, the people who went to my church.

Then I remembered Bobby Decker. He was a kid with bad breath and messy hair, and he sat right behind me in Grade Two. Bobby Decker didn’t have a coat. I knew that because he never went out to recess during the winter. His mother always wrote a note, telling the teacher that he had a cough, but we all knew it was because he didn’t have a good coat.

I settled on a warm red corduroy coat with a hood.

“Is this a Christmas present?” asked the lady behind the counter, as I laid my ten dollars down. “Yes, ma’am,” I replied. “It’s for Bobby.”

She smiled at me as I told her about Bobby needing a good winter coat. I didn’t get any change, but she put the coat in a bag and wished me a Merry Christmas.

That evening, as Grandma helped me wrap the coat, a little tag fell out of the coat, and Grandma tucked it in her Bible. We wrote “To Bobby, From Santa Claus” on the package.

Grandma and I hid in the bushes by Bobby’s front walk. Grandma gave me a nudge. “All right, Santa Claus,” she whispered, “get going.”

I dashed for his front door, threw the present down on his step, knocked, and flew back to Grandma in the bushes.

Fifty years haven’t dimmed the thrill of those moments spent shivering beside my Grandma in Bobby Decker’s bushes. That night I realized that those awful rumors about Santa Claus were just what Grandma said: ridiculous. Santa was alive and well and we were on his team.

I still have the Bible with the coat tag tucked inside: $19.95.

3. Led by the child who simply knew.
This one’s about identical twin boys, one of whom realized very early in life that he was actually a girl. The part that moved me to tears was the father’s struggle to come to terms with it…and how ultimately he loved his child enough to accept her and support her for who she was.

Anyway. I don’t think I’m depressed. I think I’m just overly emotional and easily moved lately. It coincides pretty much exactly with going off Effexor, so there’s probably a connection, but I haven’t heard about anybody else having this same thing happen. Anyway, I hope it’s just temporary. I don’t mind being sensitive, but this just feels silly.

10 comments to Like a puppet on a string

  • Oh God, that first story had me crying at my desk. I’m just now getting a grip. I remember seeing similar situations when I was volunteering at Shepherds and being all broken up about it. A dog story gets me every time. (surprise, surprise).

  • Kevin

    I’d say anyone who doesn’t get verklempt with these stories has the biggest problem of all. Here’s another good one – fictional though:

  • My eyes are tearing. Anyone not moved by at least one of those stories is cold.

  • Well I`m still on the blasted drug and I cried at all 3 stories! I even got choked up reading the letter the port truck drivers wrote to the Occupy movement.

  • auntiemichal

    One of the things antidepressants are supposed to do is “level out” emotions, preventing extreme feelings. It makes perfect sense that as you come off your Rx, your emotions are heightened; after all, they’ve been on chemical lockdown for a while and are enjoying their previous freedom! Hang in there, Zoom!

  • I’m in agreement with auntiemichal – you were wrapped in chemical cotton batting, padded from the high and low spikes of an emotional sine curve and, ummm, sorta held to the baseline. Which was probably good and needed at the time.

    Now, you aren’t. Welcome back to the unfiltered world, ma’am…

  • Bonnie

    I’ve never been on antidepressants but there are times when I am more emotional and tear easily. Dog stories do it to me as does looking for a baby congrats card for new parents especially if it’s a boy. Into the Hallmark I go and within minutes of reading a few cards I can feel my eyes start to moisten and my throat tighten. I also get choked up at weddings. So I would say you’re pretty normal!

  • …this may have nothing to do with your situation, but…

    Sometimes, when we get depressed, our mind searches for a reason. Sometimes it can’t find one in the ‘now’ that justifies the intensity of the feeling. So it assigns the depression to a memory. The memory may have been a minor depression, but the mind makes it appear larger than it was in order to justify the current depression.

    It’s my opinion that not understanding these reassigned feelings are somewhat illusory is when we’re most vulnerable… because you can’t reason with ghosts.

    This was one of the first things I wrote on Salted, you might be interested in it:

  • Stephanie

    I quit antidepressants about 2 years ago after 7 years on them (different meds combination at different times though). Since I quit (very slowly and a little at a time) I’ve been very emotional even when watching commercials and reading a sad story (I didn’t read the ones you posted though because I know I would cry). I’d start crying and have to try hard to think of something else to stop. I think it might not stop since it’s been 2 years, but am happy that at least I can feel *some* emotion :) Just wanted to let you know that you’re not alone!

  • This is interesting. I still take Tylenol 3s on a regular basis for my back – and I find I tear up REALLY easy, ever since I started taken them.