Extroverted Like Me

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Jan. 2 2001 9:30 PM

Extroverted Like Me

How a month and a half on Paxil taught me to love being shy.

(Continued from Page 3)

Day 50: Zap waves all day. Have now been dizzy and burping for four days.

Day 51: Intestines happier. Dizziness comes and goes. Zaps still there.

Day 52: It's mercifully over. But a new phenomenon has taken hold. When I get teary-eyed watching a horrid chick-flick on a cross-country flight, I recognize it: feelings. On Paxil, I barely noticed they were gone. Now that they're back, even overcompensating, I never want to lose them again. Bitterness, anger, jealousy, sadness: They all make me happy.

IV. Epilogue

In retrospect, it was a bad idea to screw with my brain chemistry and possibly inflict lifelong damage just for the sake of experiment. I would not do something like this again. At the height of my withdrawal I was seriously terrified, thought it might never end, and repeatedly cursed my own stupidity. The fact that I considered a wholesale career change under the drug's effects, and couldn't complete any work, is alarming. Also, the zaps are for real. Fear them.

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At the same time, I admit it was fascinating to try out a different personality. He only came out when I drank, but I caught a glimpse of an alternate me, and he wasn't such a bad guy—if a little gabby. I think I gained some empathy for other types of folk, and maybe got an idea of how alcohol can mean different things to different people. I also sort of discovered what emotions are for and decided being shy isn't so bad after all. Thanks, Paxil!

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