New Kid

I have had a wonderful outpouring since my last blog, and I feel like I ought to say something about where we are now. While it is true that Barnaby has turned a corner, I’m not sure that is the whole reason that things have gotten so much better. It might be a bit of a story, but I’m gonna just tell it in the hopes that I’ll be forgiven for the self-indulgence, both in terms of the last blog and this one.

When Jordi and I bought this house, I found myself in a tailspin full of nightly panic attacks. These attacks are describable, but I’m not sure if they translate. I would start having trouble breathing on the walk home from the train, and in the middle of the night, I would lay wide awake with my lungs in a vice and my eyes on fire.

It turns out, I had some of those “issue” things everyone’s always talking about. I went in to therapy and got on citalopram, which is a medication that helps you deal. The therapy was as helpful, if not more, but the medication jump started the whole thing so I could deal better with my life.

Why panic attack? I guess in retrospect, it makes sense. We’d borrowed a fuckload of money, and now we owned a home that required paying a mortgage, and I freaked out. It was the same time that a show we were producing was getting reviewed in the Times… I mean, it was a heady fucking time and I had no skills for how to maintain.

After about two years, I went off the medication. I did this because I was just having a hard time feeling empathy for anything, I had basically stopped reading fiction or watching TV because I didn’t give a shit about what was happening in anyone else’s life. Also, I had started rehearsals for Hail Satan, and the idea of going back into acting with this numbness was intolerable.

It started being a problem pretty fast. I actually ended up getting in a stupid fist-fight, and I didn’t realize that the several verbal fights I was getting in might be attached to the medication. I hadn’t told anyone that I went off, I just did it and didn’t think about it.

It’s the problem with these very mild emotional problems, when you medicate them away, they feel like they’re gone because of something organic and internal. So you think you can dump the medicine, and when you do the problems sneak back in as if the problems are external.

Because everyone can find stuff that explains their point of view. You can just say that your job or your wife or whatever is making you feel crazy. In my case, I had a show that I was working on, and I had a baby.

But this is just bullshit, at least it was for me. I remember Jordana was really upset this summer, she’d barely slept and I was being a total fucking prick, and I told her she shouldn’t be upset because the things that were making us miserable were the very things we had been hoping and dreaming for. And I was right, except that I would ignore that very fact the second I had a chance to.

My kid eats really well, and he sleeps marvelously. It sometimes takes him a while to go down, and he doesn’t stay down for that long, but I’m comparing him to some of my friends kids who sleep 16 hours out of every 24. Barnaby sleeps 11 hours at night and gets close to two hours of naps a day. He eats three big ass meals and nurses four times a day.

The rest of the time? He’s amazing. He laughs and goofs around. He’ll take a toy and crawl ten feet away and sit and play by himself for ten minutes. He will fall down on his face, look at us as if he’s gonna cry, and then he’ll just… not. Every time he cries, there’s a reason. He’s tired or he’s hungry or we’ve been asking him to do nothing for too long. So far, those are the ONLY three reasons he ever cries. Hungry, tired or bored. He does cry when he hurts himself, and he hurts himself a bunch because he’s pretty fearless, but he gets over it in about ten seconds.

He’s a miracle of a kid. I have no right to complain.

About a month ago, Jordana asked about my medication, and I told her I was off. She was stunned, and then really frustrated, obviously. Fairly soon after that, my mom asked if I was taking my medication, and then last week, my brother told me I need to go back on my meds.

I mean, look. I’m not crazy. I’m not in a fucking movie, it’s not like when I’m medicated I’m a drooling phebe and when I’m off I feel ALIVE and I run up during a concert and start conducting along with the orchestra. But when I’m on the medication, meltdowns like my last blog don’t really happen. When I’m off, I find myself staring into the face of some 25 year old Brooklyn hipster who I’ve just punched 30 times.

I went back on the medication last week, and although it takes a couple of weeks to metabolize, I actually feel a lot more in control and, even better, I’m much closer to Barnaby. The feeling I had, back when we bought the house – the feeling of my lungs shutting down – that’s basically gone. When he cries while falling asleep it’s still there, it’s still terrible, but I’m dealing with the rest of it pretty well.

So, anyway. I’m embarrassed about the last post because it felt very real when I wrote it. I’m embarrassed that I’m the kind of guy who needs medicine to be a tolerable member of society. And I’m embarrassed that Barnaby will read it one day and feel like he was ever a burden to me.

He’s a little miracle, he really is. The problem was never him, the problem was me.