On Another Whim

I handed the forms back to the headshrinker in the digital camo uniform. Waited a few more minutes in a chair in the waiting room. Checked out the drawings sent from young American schoolchildren.

"I hope you have a nice war."

"Ok, let's see, you say you've been here before?" he asks. My attention snaps back to the task at hand.

"Yeah, I saw Captain SomeDude, last winter."

"Ok, what was that about?"

"Uh....anxiety. Occasional bouts of rage. Iraqmares. They gave me Benadryl. I stopped going. Still got the Benadryl though, if you want it back."

"Is this persisting?" he asked.

"Not as much these days," I leaned back. "Little here and there. Oh, I lied on some of those questions last time. Here, lemme explain."

I filled out some more forms, answered some more questions, explained a few things. I'm not bipolar, we know that one for sure. Said I got some sypmtoms of PTSD and depression/dysthymia or something like that. Nothing too serious, if I really had to be honest though.

"Do you ever feel like the world would be better off if you weren't around anymore?" I was asked. I laughed.

"That would be arrogant of me, wouldn't it? And no. I don't."

More hoops. Explain this. Have you experienced this? Uh huh. Hmm.

Zoloft. One bottle. 30 pills. Cottonmouth and nausea. Minor headache. Pissing all the time. And I wasn't even feeling moody or depressed or angry when I went in. Felt pretty good actually. Nevertheless, the experiment must go on. If I have improved concentration and energy in a few weeks, groovy. Let's see what all the rage is. What's it like when you chase the American Dream one little blue pill at a time? I think it's time I took a ride on this train, deep-imbedded journalism, investigative report. The test subject runs the experiments.

The doc mentioned a condition that was similar to bipolar disorder, but nowhere near as extreme, and mentioned the possibility that I COULD have a manic episode in reaction to the meds.


"Robin Williams?" the Doc began. "He's probably bipolar. It doesn't get much more manic than that."

Manic episode? Wait'll the guys in the tent get a load of me. I can already see myself laughing and having the time of my life, cracking jokes while doing pushups. "Can't help it!" I'll explain through fits of laughter. "They gave me bum meds!!! Oh what is this war coming to?!"

Down the hatch.

I gagged a little at the nausea and dry mouth on my way to brush my teeth. Shit better be worth it, cuz now I'm on day two (these little bastards take a couple weeks to build up in your system) and my stomach is already turning.

Zoloft. Hahahahahaha. It's just one crazy experiment after another, isn't it?

Put me on a commercial, smiling in the most content of ways while a slight breeze ruffles my shaggy hair and I cross my arms across my super-soft cream colored sweatshirt, sigh, then jump up and chase some chick down the beach. Zoooooloooooooft. Gimme a golden retriever while you're at it. We'll market these things like M&Ms.

Really, let's get to the bottom of this. I gotta tell ya, I'm skeptical as all hell. But good lord, am I entertained.


  1. Anonymous said...
    The Army is giving out antidepressants now. Never thought I would see the day. "Here's a cocktail of mind altering drugs, now take this machine gun and go to work!"

    Reminds me of a movie called Jacob's Ladder where they give the troops LSD to make them more aggressive and they end up slaughtering each other.
    Anonymous said...
    Try Cymbalta if they let you. Wonderful stuff once you get past the 10 days of initial diarrhea.
    2sbct/2scr Mom said...
    You cracked me up and made me sad at the same time, but you've done that before :). Maybe the pills will help. I'm glad you're at least going to give them a try.

    Thank you for the continuing updates. It seems like they may get interesting.

    Take care of yourself.
    LL said...
    Just an FYI, have your buddies keep an eye on you cuz it can go the other way from manic. I got to the zombie-don't-give-a-fuck stage in about a week. I almost got creamed on my motorcycle and didn't even break a sweat or get the adrenaline rush. When in danger, you NEED that rush. I stopped taking them. So keep that in mind.
    admiyo said...
    Dude, you are in a war. It is going to suck. But the meds will fuck you up more. You probably get more positive "Counseling" out of this blog than you got by talking to the shrink.

    What you need is someone to talk to, professionally. The Army is crap on that. Some good chaplains really get it down, but many are just too religious to fulfill the other side of their mission.

    HOpe the Zoloft doesn't fuck you up too much. Get off it as soon as you can.
    Red said...
    Zoloft is fail. I was on it for a while and it really f*cked me up. I didn't like who I was with the drug. I got out of a very bad situation and have not needed any medication since then. I don't think I needed it in the first place. I know it helps some people, but I wasn't one of them. Maybe it will help you, maybe it won't. Just be sure that you and your buddies keep and eye on you to make sure you're OK.
    David M said...
    The Thunder Run has linked to this post in the blog post From the Front: 04/10/2008 News and Personal dispatches from the front lines.
    themorethingschange... said...
    Ok, I feel obligated to say this ... anti-depressants are a matter of fit. I tried several before I found one that worked for me, ie: I feel normal and operate normally.

    I've been on Zoloft for 12 years this month...

    Have you seen the commercial that says "Depression hurts" ?

    Well, the depression they're talking about is physical, as in muscular. And its truly miserable -- a crying-curled-in-a-ball-I-want-my-mommy kind of miserable. MIGRAINE miserable.

    After some false starts we found that Zoloft was the ticket for me. Someone I know with the same illness can only take Wellbutrin, which literally made my skin crawl.
    Felt like little bugs under my skin

    We just did a trial of Cymbalta because its been approved for treatment of fibromyalgia - might as well have been sugar pills. But for Anon #2 it worked. No diarrhea either btw ;)

    Again, the fit is individual. First comes the diagnosis, then the search for the right medication. If you'd found it right out of the gate you'd be one lucky dude. Maybe this is the one that will work for you. Listen to your body and GO BACK if it's not working.

    +++++Creds+++++ for dealing with this head-on. You rock Suspect!
    membrain said...
    I had struggled with suicidal depression off and on since I was 14. I'm 63 now. I never made asuicide attempt per-se, but my behaviour was such that I might easily get killed.

    I had a number of lung cancer scares in the late '90's. My lung specialist was torn between giving me a needle biopsy (which is much like being stabbed in the lung with an icepick) or waiting three months to see if it was growing.

    We waited the three months. When I got the results from the CT Scan that I didn't have lung cancer I was actually dissapointed. I thought lung cancer would solve my problems. THAT'S when I realized how fucked up my head was.

    I went to see a shrink about it. He prescribed PROZAC and told me it would take about 6 weeks to kick in. During that 6 weeks I became even more depressed.

    Six weeks to the very DAY that I started taking them I woke up and I new it had worked. The depression was gone. I felt like a walking fucking advertisement for Eli Lily.

    The only thing I can compare it to is being in a plane that has been flying for years through a very bad storm and then one day suddenly the sun came out.

    I've been on it for over 8 years now and the storm never came back.

    PROZAC is the original SSRI (Selective Seratonin Re-uptake Inhibitor). ZOLOFT is a form of SSRI that has proven effective in panic attacks, PTSD, and anxiety disorders.

    The poster 'themorethingschange' has probably given you the best advice about your situation in the comments section to date.

    The dry mouth sucks but that's about it for me.

    I'm only sharing my experience with you because I care about your well being.

    I have a nephew who used to suffer from anxiety attacks so powerful that he would be hospitalized.

    They would hook him up to a heart monitor and his heart would be beating like crazy. Like he was having a heart attack.

    After several try's with different types off SSRI he's finally found one that works.

    The thing about SSRI medication is that you have to take it faithfully. Stopping it suddenly can have an adverse effect.

    And yeah, make sure your buddies you trust the most keep an eye on you.

    Get well Suspect and get home safe.
    Anonymous said...
    Zoloft works for my wife, who is an ER Nurse.

    So I wouldn't suggest dismissing its abilities to help.

    Stay Safe.

    Anonymous said...
    While you're at it, Google Zoloft and brain damage. Now, THAT will entertain you. Here's one:


    Talk to someone, even the Ugandan will do. He'd be ideal as a non-English speaker, who's got one leg tied to a post, and can't leave for hours. It just has to be a human being who isn't rabid-ass judgemental on you. It's important you get to say it all, all you got to say about all of it. The silly, stupid, simple assed shit, as well as the really important stuff.

    Personally, I suspect all drugs. Our society depends on drugs because it doesn't care about individuals (you) and simply wants you to modify unacceptable behavior and get back in line. You're doing the same thing in-service. You're non-conformity is marking you as 'special'.

    I saw my nephew grow up on ADD/HDD and SSRI shit. He'd be OK if you just took the time to talk to him. Oh, yeah, and EXPECT him to act normal. But his mom gave him beau'coup slack for being 'special'.
    The pills let her sedate the kid while she did her thing. The Army is willing to sedate you for the same reasons.
    Anonymous said...
    Better living through chemistry...
    Obviously you hit a nerve with some folks, and that's not a bad thing, because it creates dialog. You know what they say: "If it works, it's not stupid."

    Every one of your readers wants what's best for you, even those who don't know you. You've posted some blogs that describe your pain, so I'm positive you need something to ease it. I would prefer you take antidepressants than try and self-medicate through alcohol or pain medication, which I PROMISE will make the pain worse.

    I'm so proud of you for taking this step now. It's a tough one and you're incredibly brave for sharing it with us.

    Take care of you,
    Aunt Lynda
    Aprillini said...
    Exactly, Aunt Linda. Take care of you, Suspect (Ryan) because the meds definitely affect people differently. I have a friend who swears by Zoloft, and my 23-year old son said he felt like a "homicidal zombie" on Cymbalta. One day at a time. We are sending you positive thoughts.
    Vixen said...
    Watch yourself with those pills. If you quit taking that shit for a few days, you're more likely to have an episode. It won't neccessarily be maniac. My ex has depression, stopped taking his meds and a whole lot of ugly came out.
    Jenni said...
    I went to work after talking to you earlier, and had to package a bunch of sertaline's and thought about you the whole time. Talked to one of the pharmacists (the one I know you'd like) who also did a stint in the Army Infantry, about the whole SSRI thing. He said to be careful...sometimes it makes the depression worse.

    I know you're looking at the whole thing like an experiment...to see if somehow they're going to make stuff seem not so hopelessly messed up. I hope they work for you, but I don't think they're going to make you completely happy. I wish they would...but you're in such a shitty situation. Two months left, and then you can do whatever it is that makes you happy...maybe even pursue some mysterious endeavor that includes no one but you.

    At least you haven't resorted to reading Deepak Chopra. Then I'd be REALLY worried. :P
    BigD said...
    Hi Suspect,
    So much to say and yet I don't know where to begin. Please heed all the great advice given here by those who have experience with this drug. I am so proud of you for going to see Captain SomeDude and trying to get some help. I wish there was a "little blue pill" to make pain, anger and sadness go away. How do you do that in a war zone? Just make sure your buddies there have your back...you need someone to look out for you while you are trying to figure out if this is the right medication for you. Here is this nurse's RX for you:
    a) Sleep - uninterrupted and dreamless...8-12 hours/day
    b) Food - only "four star" restaurant gourmet
    c) Patient may grow hair to any length desired.
    d) Patient is released from any and all guard duty for rest of tour.
    e) No riding in or on Strykers for the next four weeks.
    f) Must listen to music and relax three times/day
    g) Must receive love and gentle human contact four-six times/day until date of discharge from Army.
    You can do this guy, stay true to who you are and I know you will come through this dark time with renewed hope and optimism for the future that will only be better with you in it!
    Anonymous said...
    How can the Army give you anti-depressants BUT still consider you fully mission capable and send you out to patrol? I love how the leadership can change the rules when it is convenient for them but never to help out the Soldier. That happens way too often. I try to fight it when I can but it just seems like they couldn't care less most of the time.
    Anonymous said...
    dude, you're fine. Trust me.

    Ahh who am I kidding, you know that. =)
    Anonymous said...
    Yeppo, I gotta admit, a dude with Zoloft, and a gun, scares me more than anybody, with just a gun.

    Go find an old cult sixties movie called "Blue Sunshine". It's a horror flick, but it's so dated it's a classic Laugh-at-me-while-I-try-to-scare-you scenario.
    Anonymous said...
    Now, I'm definately not a pharmacist. My meds include a margarita & a babysitter...

    Just be careful not to build a permanent outhouse next to a port-a-potty. Crap stinks in both of them, but one is only temporary and short term funk. The other leads to permanent problems down the road.

    You're a smart man. Trust your instincts. When I said you're like Hemingway, I didn't mean in all things, dude...

    Aunt Sandy
    Anonymous said...

    Did you know you can't work for the government as an FBI, CIA, or ATF agent while taking psychotropic medications? They consider you too unstable to be allowed to carry a gun. Samea for Federal Security Personnel. Does Dr. SomeDude know what you can do with that M4 on a good day?

    Does he know that you can do about the same amount of damage on a bad day, too? Dittto for, 'On accident', like in a bad day, except you don't give a shit, no really I don't, oopsy, I didn't know the grenade launcher was loaded, oh shit, oh well, goddammit, nevermind.
    Anonymous said...
    Ok... so I just got "wind" of your April fool's joke.

    In Pubic: "I can't believe you did that. That is mean and demeaning."

    What I'm really saying: "DUDE! THAT...WAS...FANTASTIC!!!" How on earth did you get away with that? Where did you even find it? You have sealed your seat as the practical joke king of the family.

    Aunt Sandy
    Anonymous said...
    It's the editor in me. I can't help it: In the comment above you said "in pubic" not "in public"


    Jenni said...
    It's okay Aunt Sandy...we knew what you meant. =)
    Anonymous said...
    Sandy just pointed me in the "get it?" direction. Did you really do that???

    If so, you're REALLY funny!

    I'm on your side.............


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