Metyrapone: Eternal Sunshine

I’ve never been divorced. I’m not married, so that rules out the divorce part. My cousin got a divorce a year after she was married. She was 27. She said, “I wouldn’t wish divorce on my worst enemy.”

I know being married after a year with no children doesn’t really seem to compare to the marriages that end after 20, 30 or 40 years; but, her comment still struck me. It came from such a raw place. Like when you know, only those who’ve been through it can understand.

Even though I’ve never been divorced, I’ve had a few serious boyfriends in my past. My first real relationship started when I was a senior in High School and ended after my freshman year of college. I was 19. My breakup at 19-years-old was the closest thing I knew to my world ending.

When I think about my first boyfriend, I’m reminded of everything great about young love: watching movies together, talking on the phone into the middle of the night, making out until the wee hours of the morning . . . .

And then, I remember, the crazy:

Ever so gracefully, those warm and fuzzy memories come to a crash and burn ending with a fit throwing, heart-rending, sobbing marathon of pain.

And it was all over something I don’t even remember anymore.

The crazy is pain at its ugliest; the result of that same love gone awry. What Darth Vader referred to as the “Dark Side“. We’ve all been there. Some of us spend a weekend, or a mini vacation, others, a hiatus. When it came time to dapple with the dark side, I didn’t just stick my big toe in it, no, I dove right in, headfirst and swam around.

It involved a lot of screaming, a lot of crying and a broken heart. With each slobber filled, runny-nosed gasp of air I took between sobs was the conviction that everything that once felt comfortable to me: what I knew as my safe, happy little world, no longer existed. (Somebody had to be held responsible for this heartache, and at 19, it certainly wasn’t going to be me.)

I always hoped, if I ever ran into my ex, that he would remember the good stuff and that the crazy wasn’t as bad as I imagined. There is, however, something about being that exposed and feeling that vulnerable. Going through so much pain with someone you loved; it was the ‘raw’ I felt in my cousin’s comment.

I can’t imagine what it would be like to get a divorce, but what I do know is that pain seems to be the common denominator in all of them.

Which brings me to the ultimate question: If you could take the pain away, would you?

Oscar Wilde once said, “No man is rich enough to buy back his past.” Unless, that is, you are living in the 21st Century.

Scientists have discovered a drug that has been able to erase unpleasant memories tied to traumatic affairs. Metyrapone reduces the brain’s ability to retrieve negative emotions associated with painful memories. The drug affects the amount of cortisol that is released in your brain. Cortisol is a stress hormone often associated with tragic events in our lives.

source: Psych Central

source: Psych Central

Scientists found that if the hormone is decreased during the time of the recollection, the feelings attached to the memory are minimized.

Researchers see this breakthrough as a way of helping victims of post-traumatic stress disorder: PTSD. This would refer to people who have suffered from witnessing or being victims of a traumatic event.

While Metyrapone seems like an excellent way to help those suffering from PTSD, at the same time, the effects of the drug have obvious moral ramifications.

What if everyone had access to a drug that took the pain away? One that was not called heroin, oxycotin or Jack Daniels? Those drugs are known more for numbing the pain, than for removing it altogether. . . (so, I’ve “heard” anyway.)

Could we really be trusted with such a drug? If I had to choose among my most traumatic events in my life up until now, my breakup with my boyfriend at 19 wouldn’t be on the table, however, if I were my 19-year-old self, it absolutely would.

My cousin ended up remarrying. Today she is still happily married with four kids. I can’t help but wonder if her first marriage had anything to do with her second? If somehow all of the suffering was worth it?

Which brings me to my next question:

How much of the pain that we experience is beneficial to our lives?

What if we were given the chance to make that choice ourselves?

When you’re going through a painful experience, you will do everything in your power to make that pain go away. Yet, somehow after the gut-wrenching feelings finally subside there seems to be a calm. And we move on, in spite of every self-doubt we had that we could ever do it. It’s the method to the madness. I believe that the pain from my past has led me to the man that I’m with today.

As for my crazy, those times have become minor splinters of embarrassment: the ‘wrong way’ signs on my map of memories. And perhaps, those splinters are just enough to hold me from crossing as far over into the dark side, leaving me with a few less detours.

 

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