I woke up yesterday morning and weighed myself. Down 4 pounds since I came off the anti-depression medicine. That’s no surprise to me. One of the side effects of the medicine, for me at least, was that it made food taste amazing. Food in general took on a whole new life of it’s own. I loved to eat because every bite was spectacular. After nearly six years on the medication, that kind of vivid taste has become part of my life.
I didn’t just choose willy nilly to go off the medication. Not me. It has made a huge difference in how I have come through a divorce and other shocks to my emotional system and I have been grateful for both the therapy, and the medications that have gotten me through. If anything, I have kept at it because it was a low cost, low risk insurance against falling into that dark place again. But a few weeks ago my prescription ran out and I could not get to the doctor’s to get a refill for a couple of weeks.
Much to my surprise, there was no real change in mood, or positiveness or energy or motivation. I felt… the same. When I finally got to the doctor’s and she asked how I had reacted to being off the medication for a couple of weeks, I told her that, except for the taste of food, everything seemed the same. She suggested I stay off of it, just to see. I could have the prescription as a backup if I found myself falling back to a dark place, but for now, to see if my body had gotten better, I am off my little “happy pills.”.
So I stopped taking them. And I seem to be fine.
Now that I have stopped taking the medicine though, most food tastes bland. Dull. Lifeless. I am having to relearn how to enjoy food, whereas before everything was just an incredible pleasure to eat, a fireworks of taste, no matter what I was eating.
So I have been eating less. I was also enjoying it less.
Two nights ago, I tried something. I had a small block of smoked mozzarella cheese that I was calling dinner. I ate it much slower than normal. I concentrated on it as I ate. I took time to differentiate the flavors, to let them soak in. And slowly, flavor came to life again.
I did the same thing the next morning, with the bagel I fixed with bacon and egg. I focused on it. Eating mindfully I think one writer I read years ago called it. And again, the flavors slowly showed themselves, more subtle perhaps, but rich and delicious.
There is a lesson there somewhere. I am not sure what it is. Perhaps it is that everything is a tradeoff in life (which I kind of knew already.), or that we can find amazingness in the simplest things simply by slowing down and savoring life more. Or perhaps the bigger lesson is that if we work our minds, instead of running on autopilot, there are levels of life that we miss otherwise, and that life is a richer, more vibrant place than we generally realize.
And that is a lesson worth learning.
PS – The quote I blatantly stole from Tess Kincaid, a poet and friend. Sometimes, paying attention to the small things in life CAN be the romance of the unusual.