Monday, May 04, 2009

Through the Looking Glass

Are you shy and wonder why? Are you OUTGOING and wonder why? Did you ever wonder what it would be like to be on the other side for awhile? And not just with a few drinks: to really be able to try out a new personality?

This article is a quick and required read. Right now. It won't take you barely five minutes, even if you don't read as fast as I do. (My friend C is the only person I know who can give me a run for my money. Hi, C!)

Key sentences:

"Day 25: A pattern is emerging. Since starting on Paxil, I've been drinking like a fish. For some reason, vitamin P combines incredibly well with alcohol. It's more fun to drink than it was before. I want to be drunk every night. I don't get hung over now, and I remain pretty lucid even when sloshed."

"Day 27: Also, the last few days I've considered cutting down on free-lancing and getting a regular job—consulting or something. Previously, I couldn't imagine a job like this. Regular hours and no creative outlet sounded like a nightmare. All wrong for me. But now, stability, routine, and boredom sounds A-OK. Pleasant, even. An easy way to make a buck and just live my life."

"Day 29: After deciding Paxil is worthless and downing three glasses of wine, I find I want to talk to people. No, it wasn't the alcohol. I drink at parties all the time—and go from standing alone in the corner to standing drunk and alone in the corner. This time, I'm craving conversation."

"Day 35: Pre-Paxil, I was a social drinker. Now I'm walking a mile in someone else's brain chemistry. I can see why some of you like to drink so much, maybe even need to drink so much. It's fun for me now, in a way it just wasn't before. On liquor and Paxil, strangers mean novelty, not fear. Group conversations are a chance to play raconteur, not a chance to smile weakly and shut up.

And it's so much better than sobriety. Sober for me these days means extreme detachment. Movies, once a favorite hobby, do nothing for me now. Likewise books—I just don't connect with the plots or characters. I can't recall laughing (while sober) in the past couple of weeks. I'm never sad, but never happy. Why wouldn't I drink?"

"Day 52: It's mercifully over. But a new phenomenon has taken hold. When I get teary-eyed watching a horrid chick-flick on a cross-country flight, I recognize it: feelings. On Paxil, I barely noticed they were gone. Now that they're back, even overcompensating, I never want to lose them again. Bitterness, anger, jealousy, sadness: They all make me happy."

It often takes an outsider to accurately and poignantly describe a phenomenon, and it turns out that personality discussions are no different. Seth described my own brain to me in a way I couldn't possibly have come up with myself. I'm not quite as extreme, of course, and I imagine most other "natural" extroverts aren't, either--after all, extrovertism isn't the same thing as sociopathy. We have feelings. But it would have never occurred to me before this article that group conversations would equal "smiling weakly and shutting up" to some people. REALLY? Boy. Shutting up never even remotely occurs to me. I always have a lot to say, and I especially have it to say in groups. Get me alone with someone and I can be calm--quiet, even. Put me in a group and the spotlight's on me and I will do anything to keep it there. Until this article, I didn't really understand that some people didn't feel like that. I KNEW that, intellectually, or else the entire world would have gone deaf a thousand years ago from all the talking. But still: it's fascinating to see his take.

This article is especially interesting to me because I recently stopped taking personality-changing hormones, aka The Pill. Leaving aside the sexual revolution aspects of the Pill, what it does to your hormones is fascinating.

In a terrible way.

Don't get me wrong--I was on it for many years, and it performed its job admirably. But had I realized just how much more sane and non-emotional I would be OFF the pill--and that I would lose weight just by blinking and breathing--I might have disembarked the train a lot sooner. The most telling moments arrived over several months when my relationship with the LT was imploding, and I cried every day, sometimes times twice a day. The LT and I broke up, and I was STILL crying all the time. And there is nothing worse, men, than crying at the drop of a hat and having no idea why or how to stop it, and assuming you're going crazy and wondering if you'll ever be sane again. Even though I KNEW I was crying for no good reason, I couldn't get a handle on myself. Suddenly, once I stopped convincing myself I was pregnant all the time (that's what the Pill does) I snapped out of it. Immediately. And I lost ten pounds. It was like entering SaneLand over night. Turns out these "hormone" things really do affect this "brain chemistry" thing.

1 comment:

T-town Girl said...

If you want to try being shy, take a valium. My extreme fear of needles makes in necessary for me to take a valium when getting fillings. When I got home from my last dentist apointment I listened to some guy giving me a PODs moving quote for about an hour on the phone just because I didn’t want to interrupt him.