As several of you pointed out on my last post, if your choice really was between being bald forever, or having a beard you could never shave off, bald would seem the no-brainer.
Bald can be hidden under a wig, or maybe a jaunty scarf.
Beard is tougher for a woman to pull off.
Unless you’re Drew Barrymore:
Metaphorically, bald looked a lot like me staying at a job that was crushing my soul, while pretending everything was okay. And for a whole year I tried to do exactly that by hiding my misery under the wig of antidepressants and this jaunty scarf I call my blog.
Antidepressants? Necessary Medication or Cop Out?
Here’s a novel thought:
If you have to take psychoactive medications simply to get through your day then maybe something is wrong with your life.
According to the CDC, 11% of Americans are taking antidepressants. Why would I risk pissing off 11% of my readers by suggesting that they might not need medication but a lifestyle overhaul instead?
Well, don’t you think it’s weird that we prefer thinking something is biologically wrong with us rather than with our choices?
Choices, we can fix; biological malfunction is out of our control. But then maybe that’s the point.
“It’s Not My Fault” and other lies we tell ourselves
What would it mean if all of my problems were my own damned fault? And if they are my fault then isn’t it up to me to fix them?
That sounds like a helluva lotta work, Chloe. Best to just take a pill and feel better now, right?
Now, before my inbox fills with hate mail because I’m judgy about antidepressants, let me clarify. I believe anti-depressants are terrific first aid for emotional ailments. If you feel like putting the working end of a revolver in your mouth then please, dear God, hie thee to a doctor and get yourself some relief!
But just as nobody wears a cast for a broken leg for the rest of their lives, I think it is likely that few people need antidepressants for life. Antidepressants were invented to be like a cast for a broken spirit while it mends; they were never meant to be a permanent orthotic device for our souls.
Emotional pain, like any other pain, indicates that something is wrong. You wouldn’t take morphine to dull the pain so you can keep your hand in a fire. You’d pull your damned hand out, wouldn’t you? If you need antidepressants then take them, but don’t ignore the pain that brought you to need medication in the first place. That pain is there for a reason. Maybe that pain is your only hint that you’re on the wrong path.
Today, antidepressants have become like a permanent cast; a cop-out that allows us to avoid addressing the underlying problems that are causing the depression in the first place. Anyway, I feared they were becoming that for me. And the reason I thought that is because it wasn’t too long before the antidepressants weren’t dulling the pain anymore. The wig kept slipping, and the miserable emotional baldness I was trying so desperately to hide kept peeking through.
Becoming a Bearded Lady
When you’re on your way to becoming a metaphorical bearded lady, the first chin hair is the hardest. You pull that sucker out before anybody sees it.
The first time the notion crossed my mind that I should just walk away from my job, and this mountain, I squashed that thought like you would a roach on the kitchen counter.
Quitting my job was no small matter. Since there aren’t any hospitals nearby, it meant getting a new job that would involve a seriously inconvenient commute to another state over a dangerous mountain pass. I’d also need an out-of-state nursing license. And what the hell are we going to do about this underwater mortgage situation?
Pluck, pluck, pluck.
But those chin hairs just kept coming.
When I returned to work after my surgery last summer, I sprouted a five o’clock shadow that no amount of plucking could control.
Since I would never call anyone a vindictive, manipulative, incompetent, pathological liar on my blog, I won’t write about the
people details that made my job so freaking miserable, but what I can write about is the strange phenomenon that occurs when God starts sending you a very clear message that you don’t want to hear.
Just as I would reassure myself that I could maintain my status quo, and tolerate the situation, something intolerable would happen. And the longer this went on, and the more I tried to ignore the message, the shorter the space became between these two events until there was almost no separation between the two.
Just when I would convince myself that it was safer and easier to stay on this crazy train, another impossible thing would happen to let me know that I needed to disembark, asap.
What’s Worth Living For?
It was pouring rain the day I knew. I’d made the decision that I needed to start looking for another job, and as I left the police station after getting fingerprinted for my out-of-state license, I carefully tucked my fingerprint card under my raincoat to keep it from getting wet. Suddenly I was filled with a sense of freedom and peace I hadn’t felt in a very long time, and neither the inconvenience of the commute, nor the underwater mortgage, mattered anymore.
What matters to me is my marriage, my family, and my integrity. Convenience and material possessions, while very nice, aren’t things we can live for. Well, they aren’t things I can live for, anyway.