I’d love to see a grown woman cry. If that woman was me.
In my office at church, I have a box of tissues that I have never touched. Oh, there have been times when an upset parishioner has grabbed a Kleenex or two for mopping up the tears. Never me. I don’t cry anymore. Not a drop. Go ahead, make me watch The Notebook! I promise you, there won’t be so much as a sniffle. My eyes are dry as the Sahara, and I don’t see things changing anytime soon.
What has happened to me? Me, who as a little girl was such a drama queen that I was dubbed “Sarah Heartburn”? Me, who wept buckets over corny TV commercials (remember the Budweiser ad with the Clydesdales pulling a sleigh through the snow to the tune of “I’ll Be Home for Christmas”? Killer!) and sad novels and the most minor disappointments of life? And happiness! I cried for joy as well, at every reunion of family or friends, at childbirth (after the baby was born—before that it was all blood-curdling shrieks), on giving or receiving gifts of any kind:“Oh, (sob) You shouldn’t have!” My face was in a state of permanent blotch from all the waterworks. Before my diagnosis of manic depression, I could literally cry from morning till night. One memorable New Year’s Day I was such a misery that I couldn’t stop wailing long enough to join the family for our traditional bowling outing (what’s so tragic about bowling?)
So who turned off the faucet? The answer, as far as I can figure, is pharmaceutical. After many frustrating months of trial and error, my doctor and I found the combination of medications that keep the bipolar disorder under control. Side effects are minimal—no seizures, no weight gain. But I’ve come to realize that, since the day I began this regimen of drugs five years ago, I haven’t shed a tear. Even at funerals. I may be “better,” but I’ve lost something I valued greatly…the ability to feel things as deeply as I once did. I mentally skate on the surface of my existence. I am, a lot of the time, pretty numb. As if I’m viewing a not-terribly-engrossing movie about my life, and am tempted to leave the room.
I hate to admit it, but I really miss my lows—and my highs as well. Miss the roller coaster of feelings, good and bad. I’m never seriously tempted to go off my meds; that would be suicide I know. But I wish, with all my heart, that I hadn’t regained my sanity at the expense of my emotions. I wish there was a way to recapture the Elise whose eyes filled at the drop of a hat. I’d love to be, for just one more day, the blubbering lady listening to a melancholy Billie Holiday song, the mad weeper watching YouTube videos of cute babies.
I want to cry again, dammit. And I just can’t.