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Revolution: How Cipralex & I Saved My Life
By Niki Chanway - 17 Years Old

You’d like to think there’s a quick and easy fix to depression. Exhausted, beaten girl that you are, having spent a large portion of your life wiping the metaphorical sweat from your hypothetical brow, you’re wondering why you just can’t access it.

You waste your Friday nights with your knees curled up to your chest.

Your Saturdays, in bed.

Sundays you force yourself to socialize.

Mondays you’d rather do anything than live through the week again.

You suffer. Struggle. Simper. You pretend that nothing hurts; you thrust candy-coated lies into the mouths of the people who love you. If the words seem sweet enough, maybe they won’t notice the limpness in your fingers, your voice, your spirit.

There are so many lonely nights, but you have yet to find any lonely knights. Nobody seems to feel the same, girl or boy, man or woman, human or extra-terrestrial. Even one would be enough.

At night when you lay awake and listen to the crackling deadness inside your head, there’s that familiar weight on your chest (like an old friend or ex-lover, whispering, hello, beautiful, here we are again) and you feel like the future has transformed from being full of promise to brimming with lies and threats and torture and you choke on each breath because somewhere along the line, the air turned to carbon monoxide and there’s no way you can live a poisoned existence forever.

Dark feelings control your mind; you are furious without reason. Your jealousy is rampant. You hate those who love you for not loving you enough, and shove them back when they love you too much. Do-gooders, good Samaritans, they anger you, for they are far too beautiful. And oh, you loathe yourself; you are filth. You are patchy skin rot on an ancient camel’s parched back. You are the necrotizing flesh on an unclaimed corpse. You are lonely, but unwilling to make the effort to love.

It began when you were only five. Innocent little thing with bright eyes and moist palms, you seemed ordinary at first.

It began with nightmares. Nightmares of things that weren’t even scary, like cartoons and games of tag. In your mind, they were twisted; when darkness fell, they became mutants that you couldn’t understand. You would wake up trembling like feathers on a nervous dove with no answer as to why. Before too long, these nightmares carried over into the daytime, and you spent your seconds fearing an evil you could not name.

As the years pass, it grows with you; you begin to refer to it, affectionately, as your “darkness.” Your “disease.” It is beautiful and terrible and helps you create, but also helps you destroy. The difference is that you create pretty words whilst destroying yourself.

You know that your darkness is a part of you; it can’t be abolished easily. Or at least you think you know. You fear that if you were to somehow give it up – if such a thing were possible – it would devour your words whole. Snatch away your passion. You worry that you would no longer sigh at bruised apple sunsets, and would lose sight of the beauty of fish scales. Worst of all, it could take your writing, the one thing to keep you sane. You have learned that though many writers already border on crazy, taking away their words can only end in casualties.

On those nights without knights, you scribble furiously into notebooks, scribble furiously the words of a drifter weighed down by stones. A dreamer whose eyelids are fused open. You write sentiments like words, you’re the only ones I’ll ever love and the Muses are my goddesses. You wish to pluck the sugary words off the paper and place them on your tongue; you would love to swallow them, to keep them inside of you forever. Maybe eventually they would reach your heart, would be trapped there. The thought of losing them tastes like cyanide.

People without the virus, they recommend therapy. Medication. The last therapist was too expensive, and you’ve always soured at the thought of drugs; you’ve seen firsthand how they can rip a defenseless human down to nothing. Your father, your depression and anxiety came from him and you saw the zeal with which he loved his Zoloft. And then his Ativan, his tranquilizers. His marijuana. And finally, his heroin. You refuse to end up like him.

But you can only crawl so far, and after a while, you’re desperate. You can’t resist any longer, and you’re already submersed, anyway. Submersed in poisonous thoughts and that carbon monoxide mixture healthy people call air. You’re petrified of death, more than anything worldly, but sometimes it feels welcoming. A metaphorical blanket in a hypothetical freezer.

You give in.

You give in.

And you aren’t even ashamed. It hurts too much for that.

You start with pills. Half a tablet of Cipralex per day, and sleep. Rinse, lather, repeat. You fill out the psychological evaluation form your doctor gave you and she tells you that you’re far gone. People have started out on meds with half of what you scored on that test. You don’t comment because your serotonin levels are readjusting and really, you can’t feel much of anything. You’ve heard that numbness is the worst kind of sensation, but you don’t mind. You haven’t had a depressive episode in a couple days and that’s not so bad. Rinse, lather, repeat.

A full tablet of Cipralex per day, and breathe. That pressure on your chest that sat atop your quivering heart on those nights without knights, it’s eased a little bit. You remember that you have reasons to smile. You remember that there are people you love. You don’t fear honesty as much as before, and the word hate feels like overkill. You might be okay. You just might be okay, but no promises yet.

A full tablet of Cipralex per day, and optimism. The scars on your tabula rasa (minus the rasa) may be there forever, but they’ve healed over.

A full tablet of Cipralex per day, and disbelief. If only you’d known eleven years ago that a readaptation in attitude and serotonin levels could do so much. If only you’d stopped to appreciate the beauty of SSRIs and sanguinity. You no longer see it as giving in; no, it’s re-equipping yourself. Filling up your tool belt. It’s being wise enough to know when to go on without help and when to stop and reassess a situation.

You’d like to think there’s a quick and easy fix to depression, but there isn’t. Not metaphorically or hypothetically. Oh, you love your Cipralex; you could write novels about how you’ve come to adore it, much like you could have for the disease that once ruled your mind, which you both, distortedly, revered and loathed. Even so, you know that everything works in moderation, and smaller is sometimes better. Those 10 milligrams may have changed your life, but you recognize the danger of taking too much. You love your Cipralex for loving you back, unobtrusively.

Your disease, it’s at bay now. Sometimes it visits, but not for long, and you’ve learned that you can harness it when you wish. When you write, sometimes you use it; sometimes you channel the feelings that it creates in order to craft something beautifully devastating. But it is no longer an all-encompassing darkness; it is another tool, much like the pills, that you keep in your tool belt.

Looking back, you find it hard to believe that it hasn’t always been like this. When you wake up, your flesh doesn’t feel stretched and haggard. Your mind isn’t broken. Your feet take you where you tell them to, and you walk to school grinning. You dance because you might as well. You tell people the truth if they ask how you are, and you no longer refuse their love. More so, you give them yours in return, and you treat yourself with respect. Bruised apple sunsets still evoke your wonder, and fish scales have retained their idiosyncratic shimmer. You have remembered that life should be a privilege and not a burden.

You reached your limit, and you gave in. You were pushed too far, and you bled. This was the turning point, the climax; and Cipralex is the denouement. The rising action is, and always will be, you. Cipralex could not have done this alone. Your smiles are not born merely of serotonin, but of true happiness and hope for a future you will work to create wonderful.

At night, you lay awake in bed and listen to the building around you snoring; the walls pulse with each heartbeat, and the floors seem to vibrate with life. Someone in the apartment next door is watching television. You are not the only human in the world and knights do exist. The carbon monoxide is gone. You have learned to believe in breathing again.

This place is home, and life is vivacious.

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COMMENTS (35) | depression, empowerment, healing, self worth


35 Responses to “Revolution: How Cipralex & I Saved My Life”

  1. Paige Lougheed
    September 15th, 2011 @ 2:55 pm

    Nicole, this article is so heartfelt and courageous. I absolutely love the way it is written. Keep up the great work!

  2. Sage Rabe
    October 6th, 2011 @ 6:45 pm

    You’re an amazing writer. Seriously. It flows, has tone, substance, and heat. Keep it up.

  3. Britney Muller
    October 7th, 2011 @ 11:53 pm

    I’m sitting here in complete awe. Your unique and beautiful word choices evoke the purest forms of depression. I’m completely inspired, please keep writing, I’d love to read more of your magic.

  4. Kim
    October 8th, 2011 @ 6:24 am

    Your writing is wonderful. The arduous journey brought you to a place of beauty. How courageous you are.

  5. Joshua
    January 14th, 2012 @ 10:17 am

    I just want to say that this connected to me in everyway I am on cipralex as well I am 15 my father is a drug addict and is going to prison and i want to say thank you it helped me 😀

  6. maria
    February 10th, 2012 @ 8:49 pm

    Wonderfully written. Waiting for the cipralex to work (changed from zoloft due to allergy) hope to stay on it, and hope it works. Great conclusion, wish you all the best. – M

  7. Glen
    March 15th, 2012 @ 7:40 am

    Just beautiful, thanks.

  8. Dustin
    March 29th, 2012 @ 2:08 am

    Absolutely amazing writing. You were inside my mind, and i felt comfortable and familiar inside yours. Thank you for sharing, getting to meet and know you would be a great privilege.

  9. Cipralex Jour 5: La fin du cauchemar
    April 12th, 2012 @ 6:51 pm

    Découvre un blog sur un utilisateur de Cipralex. Ça m’encourage. Je trouve un article sur une jeune de 17 ans pour qui le Cipralex a sauvé sa vie. Un très beau texte. Ça

  10. Melissa
    May 16th, 2012 @ 3:28 pm

    I’m speechless… truly struck a cord with me. Beautiful writing.

  11. Kristie
    May 17th, 2012 @ 11:48 am

    2 weeks so far, hoping cipralex helps me like it did you, I have 2 little girls depending on it.

  12. Dave
    June 10th, 2012 @ 3:56 pm

    I’m new to Cipralex but not new to antidepressants….30 years experience.
    I am happy that you finally have some relief.
    It is a long, long road but the meds can help. I’m glad you “gave in”. I very much love your expressive writing! Remember, in this great big world, there is no other you. You are special.

  13. caitlin
    June 21st, 2012 @ 8:53 pm

    incredible, thats all i have to say, im on ciprelex as well and my god, every single thing you have pointed out throughtout this, is striaght on! you are an extremely gifted writer and an amazing person

  14. Theresa
    June 30th, 2012 @ 9:11 pm

    Wow! It’s like you’re in my head! It’s nice to know I’m not alone but so sad that anyone has to feel this say. I’ve been depressed for 20 years now. Holding a prescription for Cipralex in my hand now. I think I will get it filled.

  15. joyce
    July 16th, 2012 @ 6:59 am

    WOW Niki, this piece is so beautifully written. Hope that you will use your talented writting skills to be all that you are meant to be. Congratulations!

  16. Jessica
    July 23rd, 2012 @ 6:42 pm

    Thank you for sharing your story. Its nice to know I am not alone.

  17. Pam
    August 1st, 2012 @ 1:13 pm

    Very well written description. Congratulations on your courage to share this. My experience is so similar, but I have never been able to express it so well. On the surface I manage to appear ok to those around me, but I am always in a kind of pain that makes it impossible to experience joy, even when I am in a nice place with people Iove. I have tried to be SSRI free for several months now after 15 years on Paxil. Your experience with ciprolex is encouraging. My doctor suggested it but i only gave it a few weeks and got scared of becoming dependent on another drug again. After reading your account, think i will try it. Are you still doing well?

  18. Virginia
    August 4th, 2012 @ 8:36 am

    As others have commented, you have articulated the experience that I too had, although mine was more to do with anxiety than depression, but some similarities to your journey before and after treatment. As you say, the medication is a tool, and I too had to hit bottom and stop breathing, then be forced to surrender and admit that I couldn’t push through anymore. I had to stop fighting myself.

    Seven weeks now on Cipralex, and in counselling, because as you say, Cipralex is but the tool that is giving me time and space to believe and trust and practice a new way of being that the anxiety had buried. I have also “re-found” my normally positive and joyful self that likes to smile and laugh, the part of me that had been extinguished by the anxiety. I am so happy to have me back, for myself, and for my family, my friends, my colleagues, for anyone really.

    Nikki, I resonated with so many of your beautifully articulated ideas, and wish you well in your journey of discovery and life!

  19. the real glen
    August 9th, 2012 @ 9:02 pm

    you had me at bruised apple sunsets,

    marry me.

  20. angela
    August 10th, 2012 @ 4:33 pm

    this was the best thing i have ever read and it possibly saved my life. i was so ashamed to go back on medication after trying to live without it for a year. i am so happy to have read this. this post describes depression exactly. wow. thank-you for helping me.

  21. Denise
    August 18th, 2012 @ 8:02 am

    You are so talented! Your writing is beautiful and adolesence is a terrible, confusing time for many people, when compounded by depression is almost unbearable. May God bless you as “Today is the first day of the rest of your life”.

  22. Aleks
    August 19th, 2012 @ 11:03 am

    Amazing. So well written, and so timely – I’m having a visit from my demon today, and was reaching out for information and the stories of others because of it. Reading this was just what I needed. Thank you.

  23. Riley
    August 22nd, 2012 @ 8:02 am

    I started cipralex a week ago – the air already feels different on my skin. less darkness and more opportunity awaits. Thank you, thank you beautiful Niki for sharing your story – like many, very similar to myself. You are a beautiful writer.


  24. supra
    August 31st, 2012 @ 1:08 pm

    i am on cipralex since 1 year nikki i m ok
    when i have 2 stop this medicine only problem i am facing is shortness of breath

  25. Michelle
    October 24th, 2012 @ 8:56 am

    May God Bless you and every blissful moment you cherrish in life!

  26. Danielle
    October 24th, 2012 @ 2:53 pm

    Prescription in hand,crying as i read your story.Thank you for giving me hope.I dont feel like i will never be happy again.

  27. sebastien
    October 27th, 2012 @ 10:17 am

    thank you ……….

  28. donald
    November 25th, 2012 @ 11:40 am

    People think these drugs are good for you? check out this link.

    you may think differently after watching.

  29. Kaylee
    February 26th, 2013 @ 7:40 am

    Your story helped convince me to start retaking my cipralex! Thank you!

  30. Anonymous
    March 26th, 2013 @ 7:34 pm

    thank you

  31. julie
    May 16th, 2013 @ 5:03 am

    what a wonderful article, she described me to a tee , it was nice to put words to the feelings , I am new to cipralex but I to have found some relief but I am having to many side effects might have to come off of it, that worries me, talk to my doctor today , has anyone else had trouble with muscle pain,and fatigue.

  32. carrir
    August 8th, 2013 @ 1:03 pm

    You took the words right out of my mouth. Xoxo

  33. Vic
    January 27th, 2015 @ 2:45 pm

    I stumbled upon this beautifully written article because I just “gave in” today. I just picked up my perscription of cirpalex and after reading this I am finally hopefully for a smile to return to my face. I hope I have as much luck with this as you did. Thank you for expressing your thoughts so truthfully.

  34. Anonymous
    June 29th, 2015 @ 3:08 pm

    I ‘gave in’ recently. I am more hopeful than ever that things will improve for me after reading this article. It is inspiring. To hear that your depression originated from your father truly struck home with me as I am in the same situation.
    Thank you for writing an truly relateable article. I know it brightened my day and I am so happy I stumbled upon it.
    Thank you Nicole

  35. Maren
    July 4th, 2015 @ 11:46 pm

    Thank you for this! 3rd day on Cipralex and a glimmer of hope.

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