It was sudden and completely unexpected; one afternoon we noticed that he kept to himself, curling up in dark spots that he wasn’t known to frequent. We knew there was a problem when he wouldn’t eat, then he passed away at the vet that day. That was almost three years ago, but I haven’t had the strength to properly eulogize him. It’s too painful when I already spend my days either crying or cried out.
That’s why these drafts keep piling up. I miss writing as much as I miss the hairy little companion who would jump on my lap for attention every morning, but taking the energy to create feels so meaningless when I barely have the spoons to cook for two people and keep a clean house. I don’t even know if I’ll be alive in another year. The jury’s still out, and I’ve decided they can take their time for now instead of rushing towards a verdict.
It’s also why I’ve been on a regular dose of sedatives since last winter. I used to have to lie down for blood tests1, while vaccinations were totally fine. After all, there’s nothing being drawn, no crimson essence I can see rushing from my body into little vials. But when I almost passed out, then vomited, at a clinic for a booster shot last year, I knew mindfulness techniques and breathing exercises could do only so much.
It’s hard not to see this new dependence as a sign that I’m failing in my recovery. Compared to my last major depressive episode, I’m still functioning relatively well. But the thoughts and memories I try to keep buried in the back of my mind eventually manage to make their way out, and eventually I need to sedate myself just to be calm enough to keep my food down.
Still, I have to admit that, as a tool, the tranquilizers are a game-changer. The effects of a single 0.25mg tablet will last half a day, with a pleasantly calm (though groggy) hangover lasting another 12 hours. Little frustrations don’t build up in that time, and it gives me the ability to accomplish so much that I momentarily forget I’m a broken man.
Which makes the risk of addiction all the more scary, especially since I’ve started planning my ventures outside around them. It often feels like I’m just passing the time until it’s safe to take my next dose, keeping track of the days with a pills—weed—booze—weed cycle. I asked my psychiatrist for more doses per refill when I last visited him for a renewal and he was resistant to the idea, explaining that drugs work well for issues like schizophrenia and depression but are only a band-aid solution when it comes to anxiety. In order to recover, I’ll need to learn how to be sober when facing the fear and panic that overcomes me — even normalizing them to a degree.
Getting past my trauma at this point seems like an impossible task when I was already in a place of relative stability and doing everything I could to take steps towards better mental health. Maybe I should be embracing it instead, along with all the things I use to cope. If drugs, alcohol, violence, and insanity kept Hunter S. Thompson going well into his 60s, maybe they’ll work for me too.
- I’d get so light-headed that I’d faint. [↩]