Sunday, December 28, 2014

Guest Post: Zoloft for Breakfast

Hanukkah is over. Christmas day has come and gone. Yet New Year's Eve and the promise of more togetherness loom like a champagne hangover, like another bleak month of television reruns, like flu season. We have reached our capacity for mirth. Cookies are less of a treat than a Biblical plague. It's cold, and it's going to be cold for a long, long time. And now that I've made you feel properly depressed, I'm going to let Abby Byrd help you laugh through your tears with her brilliant essay "Zoloft for Breakfast." 

It is a crime that I've not yet introduced you to Abby the Writer. Abby is the kind of blogger you wish you knew in real life: a chick with a weird, wild sense of humor, a person who is equally capable of being ridiculous and revelatory. One day she's sharing her complex, sometime comic struggles with anxiety; the next she pens a conversation with her own butt hole (you know you want to click right here).  To top it off, her writing chops are more like fangs; she's that sharp. She will make you laugh in the face of what might otherwise make you cry, and the essay below is a case in point. She's been featured all around The Webs, and even landed a spot in Scary Mommy's Guide to Surviving the HolidaysYou'll want to read everything she writes, but for a good sampling, I suggest you read "Abby the Manic Buffalo," "I Am a Horrible Stoner," "Retired Mutant Ninja Turtles," and "Not My Child." And, because you can't actually be friends with her in real life (well, that's what she keeps telling me anyway), you should follow her on Facebook and Twitter

Zoloft for Breakfast 

by Abby Byrd

I am a remarkably highly-functioning crazy person. My clothes are clean and properly fitting. I greet people cheerfully. I have an impressive credit score and have never missed a day of work because of my mental shenanigans. In fact, the achievement I’m most proud of is graduating second in my class despite spending most of my sophomore year of college hyperventilating and trying to convince a Campus Safety officer that I had a brain tumor.

What people don’t know is that sometimes I come to work not having slept much, not able to keep food in, and in complete despair that my body is doing something I can’t control. It doesn’t happen often, but it happens. And although I’ve had twenty years to get to know this illness, anxiety is a wily fucker that still manages to catch me by surprise. It probably shouldn’t. Like people with bipolar disorder, I tend to “cycle”—first mild depression, then a shift to anxiety.

A few months ago I adjusted my dose of medication, and within weeks I started getting clues that my synapses, who typically enjoy being awash in serotonin, were going dry.

Three Weeks After Reduced Dose: Tree Staring

For the last ten minutes, I’ve been staring out the window at a tree with tears in my eyes. Maybe I need more medication. No, I’m sure it’ll be fine. Let me just get up and do something now. No, I’m still gonna sit here and stare at this tree. OK.

Four Weeks After Reduced Dose: Irrationally Angry with Walnut/General Misanthropy

I’m eating the bread pudding I’ve just made. In all the spongy delightfulness, I crunch down on a walnut and am instantly filled with rage. WHY is there a fucking WALNUT in this delicious bread pudding?! This walnut represents everything that is wrong with the world I live in. The fact that I myself put the walnuts there seems not at all relevant. Walnut, to let you know the profundity of my displeasure, I am going to eat this other walnut right in front of you. That’s right. I’m killing your brother. I just killed your brother!!!!! HAHAHAHAHAHAA!

Oh god, I think I might be fucked up. I probably need more medication. No, I’m sure it’ll be fine.

Also, I hate my entire family. Really I hate anyone who’s a person, who is not me. Yes, all of those people.

Six Weeks After Reduced Dose: The Tragic Brevity of Life As Exemplified By a Dead Wasp

Just a few minutes ago the wasp was buzzing in and out of the light fixture, but now it lies there motionless. I watch for a twitch—a leg, an antenna. How long did this wasp live? Days, weeks? Is a human life not as brief a candle? Will that wasp not be me someday, on the floor by the bed with my limbs contorted, my wings never to beat again? I will deposit its corpse in the trash can, unthinking, as one day I will be reduced to ashes by…whatever you call those people who cremate people. But my life matters, right? I matter? Yes! Of course! Haha! [insane laugh] It doesn’t bother me in the least that I will one day cease to exist! Onward to breakfast! I’m sure it will be totally fine, even though my stomach is a tightly balled fist and my intestines are contracting and my heart is racing and the idea of food is totally repellant!

[curls up in fetal position]

Holy fuck. You know what I’m having for breakfast? 25 more milligrams, that’s what.

Image courtesy of


  1. I found this post interesting just saying

  2. Do you offer your special breakfast to crying basket cases who show up at your house unannounced? (Not me, of course, never me.)

    Great essay.

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