A Stranger Asked Me

A Stranger Asked Me If I Was Okay, And I Knew I Wasn’t

By Leanne Simpson

This content contains explicit and sensitive information that may not be suitable for all ages.

Let me take you back to yesterday afternoon.

I cried so much on my way to the psychiatrist that my contact folded in half inside my eyelid – yep, it was as gross as it sounds – and I could barely read the hospital signs as I made my way to his office. The waterworks didn’t stop there, either. I pulled myself together long enough for him to ask how things had been, and then I returned to my natural state as a human puddle. Depression sucks.

But the thing about depression is that it’s monotonous.

I forgot how hard it is. My mood tends to swing towards the manic side of things, which has its own pitfalls to avoid. But the thing about depression is that it’s monotonous. It’s dogged. It follows you around like a dandelion fluff in the wind, sticks to your clothes, and grows weeds all over you (okay, that’s not how dandelions work at all, but you get the picture). It snuck up on me at a time where everything was going right on the surface, and I felt silly – ungrateful, even – saying that life was any less than perfect. But there’s a difference between being sad and being depressed. With depression, there doesn’t have to be a reason.

A couple months ago, I had a bad reaction to lithium, threw up all over Queen Street, went unconscious and hit my head, and wound up in the hospital. I’ve been trying a new medication since then – Latuda, a weight neutral miracle that has given back most of my functioning and allows me to work a normal person job for the first time in my life. The last time I saw my therapist, she asked me if it was making me a little flat. I didn’t think so at the time, but over the past few weeks the light’s been getting dimmer. I’ve been creating less, sharing less, feeling a little less like myself without suffering any tangible losses.

There always seems to be a catch with these things.

He decided to up my dose, and I was instantly wary of the side effects. There always seems to be a catch with these things, like “You’ll feel better but lose 20% of your hair,” or “You’ll feel better but fit in none of your clothes.” Then people tell you to exercise to fix that problem, and you’re just like, “It’s literally a God-given miracle that I have shuffled out of bed to buy this Jamba Juice. Please leave me alone now.”

“I wouldn’t change the dosage if I didn’t think it would work,” he said. I know he’s got my best interests at heart but sometimes I feel more like a science experiment than a human, like a game of Operation gone so horribly wrong that the only thing left to remove from my body is tears. I have to change my garbages when people come over so they can’t spot the evidence of how much I’ve cried. “Look at this beautiful view,” I always say, and then shove my Kleenex mountain down the crack of my bed while they’re not looking. It’s pretty crafty.

The other reason I went to see my psychiatrist was to get a letter for a mental health yoga program recommended to me by a friend from SickNotWeak. I’ve been on a yoga kick but had to take a break since I hurt my back learning how to twerk (I really wish I was kidding). It’s a great form of exercise because a) a lot of the time they let you lay on the floor b) it’s another excuse to shop at lululemon and c) it forces me to remember how to breathe. The program felt like a life preserver in the middle of my tear-fueled ocean (join with me!

I realized that the worst thing about treatment is time.

He wrote me a new prescription and asked if there was anything else I wanted to talk about, and I realized that the worst thing about treatment is time. Everything takes time. Even if I took the upped dose that night, I would have to wait to feel better. And I’m lucky enough that I’m not in a bad enough place not to wait – but for those who are, where do they find the time? The will? The thing that keeps them going? That’s when a passerby looked at my face, and saw what I had been trying to hide. Waving him off, I sat on a picnic bench outside the hospital and called my parents. I needed help getting home.



I can empathize. After years of settling with one medication it’s drastically and radically changing. I got so mad. Like why hadn’t they figured it out? Had I changed so much 10 years?

Then the inevitable time. Take this, wait 2 weeks, let’s see what happens.

Add Comment