Drug Me, Baby

She warned me, but I didn’t listen.

I was high on the fact that we know what’s wrong now. We know why my body was failing, organ by organ until it took hold of an important one — one you can’t just remove and move on from.

It started getting my liver. Then, then the doctors start taking you seriously.

“Oh, Sara,” she said as I entered her office. She stood, head bowed with a smirk, holding the door for me. “Why did you stop taking your Fluoxetine?”

“It has gluten in it,” I said. “I was diagnosed with Celiac Disease since the last time I saw you.”

She sighed. “It’s not enough to hurt you…”

“Until your insides feel like you’ve swallowed slow-release lava that calcifies into jagged rocks that tear your guts apart, don’t tell me it won’t hurt me.” I sat in the chair off to the side of the couch. I hate sitting on the couch. It makes me feel cliché, like I’m just there to talk, not to get ‘better’.

I met her gaze and she nodded. “I’m sorry,” she said. “I didn’t realize it was that bad.”

I nodded. “I can’t put it into words, truly. Sometimes it’s like you’re taking a beating to the gut, other times it’s like someone’s stabbing you repeatedly…” I trail off. Tears begin to well, but I catch them with the corner of my sun-protective sleeves and straighten my disrupted glasses back on my nose. “Sorry,” I said.

“It’s okay.” She smiled, reassuringly. I could see it in her eyes, she understood.

“So, what do you want to do now?” she said. “You can check with your pharmacy to see if they offer gluten-free alternatives…”

“I’ve read that depression and anxiety can be a symptom of Celiac Disease.” I cleared my throat. “I’d like to come off medication entirely. I’m hoping it’s all related. Everything. I didn’t start having stomach issues until I was around five years old, then the depression started around six or seven, anxiety around eight. Then the weight issues started happening then, too. I’ve been gluten-free for almost two weeks and already lost eighteen pounds.” My eyes started to well again. “I’ve been unable to lose weight my entire life,” I said, voice breaking around the words.

“Oh, Sara. I’m so happy for you.” She smiled. “So you’ve been gluten-free for two weeks, then? And how long have you been off the Fluoxetine?”

“About four days. So far I’m feeling great.”

“Prozac will stay in your system for a while,” she said. “I know you’ve told me before that you’ve missed a day on, which one was it? Oh, the Wellbutrin. And you were having severe panic attacks, is that right?” She pulled her reading glasses on and narrowed her eyes at the old Dell desktop computer.

I could hear the mouse click, click, click around.

“Yes. I remember being on my couch and feeling like the world was collapsing on me.”

She nodded, eyes fixed on the screen.

“How has everything else been?”

I smiled. “Good. Keeping busy. Getting prepped for a new project in August so I’m definitely keeping busy with all the kids home for the summer.”

She stared at me for a moment, eyes intent, brow furrowing. She took in a deep breath and said, “On a scale of one to ten, how would you rate your depression?”

“A two,” I spurted.

She chortled. “And your anxiety?”

“That’s the tricky bitch, isn’t it?” I gasped. “I’m so sorry!”

Laughing, she said, “You are fine. I needed that this morning!”

“Anxiety? I’d say that’s…” I paused and pursed my face, thinking. “I’d say it’s around a four.”

I don’t know if I believe myself. Right now it’s a four. When I leave here and get on the road, it’ll be a seven, home an eight or nine. The kids will go play upstairs and it’ll be a four again, teetering on a three.

“Are you still taking the Xanax?”

“Not really,” I said.

“Good,” she said hastily, then added: “At least not frequently.”

She drew back from the computer and wheeled her chair closer to the edge of the desk.

“Sara, it could take two weeks to a month for the Prozac to start leaving your system. If you get to a point where things are bad, like ‘your one day off Wellbutrin’-bad or worse, contact your pharmacy and check on the gluten-free Prozac, okay?” I nod. “Then call me.”

She started scribbling on the back of her business card and handed it to me. I didn’t look at it. I just slipped it in the front of my purse, nestling against my cell phone.

“I want you to be happy, Sara. If being off meds is that for you, I support your decision. But if it gets bad, don’t push it like you always do.” She winked and smiled.

I chuckled and said, “Okay.”

“See you back here in a month to check in, all right?”

I’m pushing it. I always do.

I’m on my fourth panic attack in three days and I refuse to call. I’m going to tough this one out.

How long could it last?

I’ve still got forty-nine days of Xanax if I really need it.

Is it sad that I counted them?

The world is raw, real, and I’m up on a string looking down at myself walking through my life, typing through it. I’m functioning but I’m not, all at the same time.

I dropped a heavy bamboo cutting board on my foot last night and was grateful I hadn’t tried to put the knife away at the same time.

The mornings are okay, I’m tired, but I’m always tired. If anything I’m better. Before removing gluten I was lucky to get out of bed before ten-A.M., going about my day like I was taking too much Xanax — numbing my life away.

My hands, my thoughts, my mouth — nothing is working like they’re supposed to.

It’s temporary, I’m sure. It has to be.

I should call, but I won’t. I’m stubborn. I’m selfish. My husband works from home and my kids are entertaining themselves — everything is fine. It’s going to be okay.

I wrote this. I unlocked my memory box, I see her face, his face, our words, the top of my graying head from the vantage point of my strung up, floating consciousness scrutinizing every action. Every inaction.

It’s going to be fine. I’ll get over this, just like I always do.

I just hope this time doesn’t take another twenty-five years to figure out.

It won’t. Stubbornness is incurable.