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Dear Katie, 

As a woman deeply immersed in the world of art, I’ve been grappling with the decision to take antidepressants for my mental health struggles. I fear that it might alter my creative process or affect my identity as an artist. On the other hand, the daily battle with depression is taking a toll on both my personal life and artistic endeavours. How can I navigate this decision, considering the unique challenges that womanhood and the artistic journey bring to the table? 


A Creative Spirit at a Crossroads

Dear Creative Spirit at a Crossroads,

A crossroads, huh? What a pain in the ass.

Whenever I meet one (more frequently than I’d like) I try to forget my past. I think only about the future. It is hard to be a friend to someone who is depressed. We are so isolated and myopic. Often our sadness has nothing to do with reality. Please look past those exasperating symptoms and be a friend to yourself first. 

What does future you look like? 

Can she put things in perspective?  Are there moments when she observes things, muted like a television? 

Is she willing to trade a wide spectrum of feelings for stability? 

You have made a career out of your emotions. You’re scared to fuck with them. You’re an artist – a vivid person and probably a little vulgar. Before I was medicated I thought I needed the vivid and vulgar parts of me. 

This is a column about my mistakes so I’ll tell you I was wrong. Sort of. 

Being medicated has affected my work. I am so much more capable now – to a degree that scares me. I rarely feel overwhelmed; I used to crumble weekly. 

Thinking more linearly has changed me in ways I sense but can’t articulate. There’s a vacancy, a worried flickering. I miss the strange ghosts that visit when your mind isn’t biohacked. Am I still talented?

But when I have that panicked thought, I remind myself of the hallmark of being mentally ill: getting help, feeling better and then believing you don’t need help anymore.  

I imagine oftentimes your pain feels purposeful. Mine did.  Can it propel you forward? Sure. But I think suffering for art is overrated.

Here’s another mistake I made. I thought antidepressants would solve all my problems. Unfortunately, even with an upper, I had to go about the business of living, occupying duality. 

Two things are true: my life is easier medicated. Mental illness is so much more complicated than a pill any scientist can invent. I am still me with all the same defects. I just meet softer landings now. 

I went off antidepressants for a brief period about two years ago. Enough had changed that I thought I was ready; I had been sober awhile. I had just tested positive for an Alzheimer’s gene. No doctor can promise antidepressants don’t cause permanent damage to your brain.

Most of all, I wanted to think I could go it alone. 

Being unmedicated were the hardest months of my life. There were a lot of contributing factors but mainly, they were chemical. I felt like who I once was only worse – lost in space, the girl who is disappearing always, forever fading away and receding farther and farther into the background. 

I’d found myself at another fucking crossroads. 

But here’s the thing about crossroads: they invite clarity, explode life into split moments. You may look at this decision as a before and after in your life story. I went back on antidepressants. 

The decision to go back on meds split my life in two. I learned going it alone is not synonymous with strength. 

I can’t tell you what to do. Each of our alchemies are so unique.  A brain weighs only three pounds but is the most complex organism in the universe. Again, what a pain in the ass. 

If you do go on medication, there will be ups and downs. It will take a while to kick in. The first pill might not be the right one. I am the most impatient person in the world but allow me to be a hypocrite; have patience. 

Most of all, I wish for you the same experience I had. I hope the synthetic joy burns away the lying pain. 


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