When you have lived with the blinds closed and you have watched the night become the morning – your eyes wide with both fear and relief – you understand. You can see the sickness once you are well. You can see it in the way a person moves. Sometimes they have fingers that flutter and eyes with pupils wide. They are eyes that need and need right now. Other times, you see a different sort of sickness. The kind that lives in your head – the blinds that are closed even if they are open. The eyes that dart back and forth because they are confused and they are scared. The hands that hold the body which rocks back and forth or kicks while the mouth screams. These are the people.
Ten Years Ago
I can’t think of anything that makes me more excited than a bottle of fun prescription drugs. Fun is the key word. It doesn’t take a lot to get them—a period of time has to pass since the last prescription, or I can be creative. I can tell my Doctor that the barometric weather changes have caused a surge in my migraines. I haven’t really had a migraine in months but I do take a lot of Advil.
He looks at me and confers. Yes, it has been rather ugly outside, have you looked up migraine triggers? I tell him I have not and feign shock when he tells me that aspartame, a staple in my fucked up diet, could be causing these. In my life, not having drugs is a trigger.
He asks me when I last had a prescription for Demerol. Seven, maybe eight months I tell him. He does not bother flipping a few pages and checking his notes. Just to be sure, I tell him I am out of asthma inhalers and my skin has been breaking out. This, I believe, deters from the absolute fact that I am sitting in his tired office for one reason: Drugs.
He grabs the special pink prescription pad reserved for drugs of abuse and a pen. But before the ink hits the beautiful script I tell him that the Demerol is giving me nausea. In fact, it often makes me vomit.
Doctor (dealer) hums and haws, looks toward the ceiling, and then asks me if a drug closely related to morphine might be a good idea? My heart starts to race but I express concern. I ask him, is this drug habit forming? He chuckles and tells me that he cannot believe the amount of people who come in, people my age, feigning pain and asking for drugs like this. How awful I whisper, how sad, it’s a good thing you can figure out which ones are really in pain. He tells me it’s obvious and he can tell from a mile away. And I decide what a great actress I am again. So great that it may kill me.
He tells me, still smiling while writing the glorious script, that I need not worry about it. I am not like those people my age who lie. I walk out of his office, thanking him (for his ignorance), and beeline it to the pharmacy. Sometimes, the pharmacy feels like home. They bottle drugs like the meals I don’t make; they have comfortable chairs and scented candles I can buy. They are home.
Eight Years Ago
At some point, every addict has a realization. Whether or not they wake up in a hospital bed or decide they have found god. Whatever. We realize that we can’t stop. The control that drugs once gave us, the feeling of careless bliss, is gone.
I realize that Ritalin is no different than cocaine was in my life, only it is free, bottled by an educated hand and placed in a bag for me to take home. Sometimes, when I’ve been up for a couple of days I read my own book. The one about recovery. The one which left readers with some semblance that I had recovered. And I had, for a while, I really tried.
I skip to the middle and read about my own addiction but it feels like someone else. I should have learned from everything in that fucking book, but instead I fumble through the days writing articles about recovery – something I am clearly not excelling at.
Who the hell snorts pills?
Ten Years Ago
Forty pills in a bottle. I count them when they are fresh and new; they are white and they remind me that I am in control. Prescribed pills. I take them as I should, as the bottle screams: take one table every four hours up to four times a day. Demerol is prescribed for moderate to severe pain. Sometimes, when my world burns to shit, I hurt. My head hurts; my brain hurts. Depression. The bottle sits in the closet. I obsess over it – just one. And then two. And then never again.
Demerol makes you feel like you are floating, sort of like Valium, but a hell of a lot better. Floating and despondent. And I like floating. I can sit still – and I can recognize the pattern. The addict in me, having become complacent, is invading my life. Again.
Fear interrupts the floating and I hide the bottle in the back of my closet where I can find it but I promise myself it will stay. I just cannot throw it away. Maybe I’ll break my ankle one day…maybe. You cannot rule these things out. You just cannot. You need reasons for the reasons.
The bottle lives in the closet for a few weeks. I feel triumphant. The pills, they don’t control me, no, I am in control. I am perfectly fine. I am utterly sober. I promise, I am. If my secret lives in my closet it does not exist. And either do I.