For the very first time since I swallowed my first 20 mg. tablet of Paxil four-and-a-half years ago, I finally understand why so many people living with mood disorders stop or want to stop ingesting those damned little pills. Those little pills, like slap-happy lovers, amend their promises of change immediately after they’ve failed you once again. One more chance? One more try? We’re narrowing the field; one day we’ll strike the right chord, just have patience. Patience? What patience? NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness) reported that adults who live with serious mental illness die 25 years earlier than other Americans . . .
Imagine yourself standing next to the Greyhound bus to say good-bye to Hope as she takes a window seat, looking at you detached and indifferent. Your worst fear is happening: That Greyhound bus is leaving you utterly Hopeless. Hopelessness is a loaded .38 in the nightstand on your dad’s side of the bed; hopelessness is impressionable and interested in alternatives; hopelessness implies that the rough-housing and agonizing conflict you’ve accepted as life is all yours, pal, so grab some gloves and climb into the ring!
Eighty-sixed and cast aside, people with mood disorders are often adrift and desperately clutch to any buoyant object to preserve the credo of the downcast, that missing people like you are rescued. But there is no rescue. Or search. No one even noticed you were gone. But then serendipity zips past on her jet-ski waving and reassuring her return. Immediately you squeeze and squeeze again until every bit of blue sky is wrung from her fly by. You weave strands of hope into bonds of promises and cling to them for their six-week trial, hoping your wholeheartedness created the perfect environment for the mood stabilizing drug to speed down your arterial on-ramp and slide into your bloodstream, easy-sneezy!
Nope. Nothing. Nada. That bitch Hope and her batty cousin, Serendipity played you once again for the hapless Sad Sack, the lunatic desperate for clemency, the believer of broken promises in the form of a pill. Those damned little pills! The pharmaceutical industry’s great hoax endorsed by psychiatrist’s, dispensed by Pharmacists, and dutifully swallowed with some water and a handful of hope. Hope that it’ll take; make a difference; do something; ease my burden; make me laugh.
At my desk 30 minutes after waking, the gravity of hopelessness, fatigue, and apathy plunge my mood underwater; the depressive side of bipolar leads to chronic pleas for the manic cavalry to save the day. Hold on, I mutter to myself, Just hold on for the pills; they’ll carry you far away from despair. Into my mind’s ground fog I wander further out on the pier when a carefully apportioned packet of dextro-amphetamine salts (think F-22 Raptor Fighter Jet in a mach-1 vertical climb); mood-stabilizer (think the F-22 Raptor running out of gas); and anti-depressant (think glider) are swallowed to ensure mood stability. Followed by a pair of diuretics to reduce significant edema caused by heart failure and pulmonary hypertension. At last I down two pain medications and one muscle relaxant for back and knee pain associated with recent weight gain caused by heart failure and venous insufficiency.
How did life become a scene from Soylent Green? Not so long ago I’d lounge sleepily awaiting the skipping return to bed of my spouse. Now my mornings are strict regimens in a very specific sequence to assure all medication has been ingested. I too, would like nothing more than to flee from this pill-filled merry-go-round so-called Life and run back to that sanctuary of pressed sheets, downy comforters, famished pillows which swallow everything, and quiet, inside-joke laughter reserved for those blessed with wellness.
Instead, every morning I sit at our kitchen table despising those damned little pills.