It’s morning. Some days it’s earlier, some days it’s later, but the ritual is all the same. I stand over the bathroom sink, thinking to myself, “I won’t forget today,” as I brush my teeth. It should be second-nature by now when I open the medicine cabinet to put back the tube of toothpaste and subsequently grab the pill bottle in exchange, but it isn’t quite ingrained. I always pause, hesitant as to what is the next step in this set of rehearsed actions. It isn’t so much a poor memory, as it is one for details.
“The point of these pills is to get you somewhere – somewhere stable so you can work things out and then wean off the medicine.”
“Why do you keep taking them? You don’t need’em – it’s all in your head.”
The misguided questions posed by friends gnaw at me, reverberating in my head, as I stand, frozen, with arm outstretched, ready to pick up the bottle from the top shelf. Despite knowing that I have contended their queries and criticism, I cannot shake it when in the comfort of my own home. What one has considered to be anything but (i.e. the medicine cabinet), has become a battlefield of its own, wavering in status of “need” and “safety blanket.”
But it wasn’t always like that. It’s easy to recall the days in which I willed myself to swallow the dastardly pill in hopes that “things would get better.” I didn’t have the leisure of waging battle between others’ opinions and my own. I was fighting a war against myself; I had been for quite some time.
My nine year old self scribbled “I want to die” in the sand pit. My eleven year old self wrote a letter addressed to no one that it would be better if I ended it all on the back of some scrap paper. My twelve year old self asked if there would ever be days in which bricks were not mounted upon my shoulders. My eighteen year old self fell apart in senior year of high school. And my nineteen year old self was what broke the camel’s back.
So when I first started taking antidepressants, it made sense to wait it out despite all side effects incurred, including my resemblance to the dormouse in Alice in Wonderland.
Coffee was the fleeting cure-all for that series of somnolent pills. I would live for the aroma of a freshly brewed pot; the dulled synapses livened up at the mere heaping of dry coffee grains into the French press. That air of desperation, mixed with excitement, can be likened, to some degree, to the cutting of lines and rolling of a bill. It becomes an expected dependency, where you crave it in spite of knowing that what follows never strays – the sense of renewal, the sense of having conquered the limits, and the quick and brisk fall through the thickets of “normalcy.” You come out just as battered and disappointed, if not more, before having entrenched upon this journey to a valhalla of sorts. Despite all of that, you await the moment where you can re-live it all so as to experience that single moment of living beyond the defined spectrum.
And then came the Celexa. It made life relatively stable, and permitted me to work on what I had to, and I wrote. Actually, I wrote a lot. Some will say, after reading the above, that I regard the Celexa as a life preserver, clinging onto it out of fear that I cannot swim. And don’t get me wrong, I am scared of those episodes; I am deeply terrified of the dragging minute hand, of gravity tugging at my pant leg with such great force, and of a constant overcast sky. But I have made my attempts to go it alone, wading into the currents and waves, only to find that while the first few strides are grand, if not prolific, I am quickly enveloped by the sea with my fingertips struggling to make the next stroke and my feet kicking feverishly to gain some kind of control. However, where the water was once tumultuous, it has since calmed considerably; it is merely the ripples that have thrown me into this frenzy of a struggle. The life preserver is thrown back to me, as we come to realize that I’m not quite ready to go it alone. Maybe I never will be – we don’t know.
With all that said, the request is simple: please stop asking me if I’ve stopped taking “the pills” or telling me that “I will get over it.” I cannot tell you that “it is a chemical imbalance,” because it is an educated guess at best. What I can say with certainty, though, is that I already wrestle with myself to accept the fact that this pill bottle has gained some permanence of my life, with no indication of leaving anytime soon, and quite frankly, I can’t wrestle with my support system too.
Image with Flickr (user: jonathanschertzer)