March 23rd, 2009

Evaporation of the Spirit

Medication is so unpredictable. I'm often struck by how deeply even supposedly mild over-the-counter pharmaceuticals can affect me. A few weeks ago, the rapid onset of Tucson's prime allergy season and my decision to stop taking the nasal steroids I'd used the past two years led me to seek a new means of relief. Seemingly everywhere I turned people were recommending Zyrtec, saying that it achieved results where other antihistamines had failed. So I tried it. A full dose made me feel dreadful, simultaneously wired and semi-comatose. So I tried a half dose, which was a little easier on my soul, but still pretty burdensome. Sure, my allergy symptoms diminished markedly. Since Benadryl works even better for those, however, and Claritin affects me less negatively, I decided I'd put the Zyrtec away.

This morning, though, when I woke up with what turned out to be a cold on top of allergies, but initially felt like the worst allergy symptoms ever, I opened the cabinet and saw the almost-full bottle of Zyrtec staring me in the face. "Maybe the last time I took it was an anomaly," I thought to myself, deciding to give the medicine another shot. So I took another half dose. And, boy, do I ever feel. . . like taking a swan dive off the Tower Bridge. That's a Craig Ferguson reference for barca_k, who brightened my day with the comedian's monologue on treating alcoholism. Unfortunately, the clouds returned almost immediately.

I actually sat down here to write that I've never felt less capable of real writing than I do at present. But then I remembered that it was only two days ago that I was flush with good ideas and the enthusiasm to realize them. Clearly, my self-assessment was the product of Zyrtec more than any kind of existential crisis. Or, rather, the Zyrtec amplified my ongoing existential crisis -- everybody has one, right? -- to such a degree that I felt like I was living inside The Cure's Pornography album, which makes a lot of sense, since I decided to listen to that one today, with Disintegration as a chaser, round about the time that the Zyrtec started to turn my spirit into vapor. Don't get me wrong. I like nothing better when I'm feeling bad than to climb inside a Cure song and shut the door to the outside world. It's just that I'd rather do that on my own initiative rather than that of a drug. The worst aspect of today's doldrums is that, because I actually have a cold, the Zyrtec did absolutely nothing to control the symptoms -- scratchy throat, runny nose -- that were bothering me the most. Think of it as the anti-Valium.