“It’s not that I want to kill myself,” I said to my therapist after 3 months. “It’s that I keep thinking how surprised everyone will be when I do.” Things were bad. By “things” I mean me.
Anxiety had gone full-Jeff Gillooly upon my person. Inside I was wrecked. Everything seemed too hard. I was bruised, flailing, exhausted and desperate. But rather than admitting any of this and falling to the ground, howling like Nancy Kerrigan before me, I just sat in my room thinking of the least painful ways to die.
I would never have done it. I don’t think. My fear of the nothing that probably comes after death is well-chronicled. But, like I said, things were bad. If you asked me prior to this time if I would ever have thought it possible that I’d one day stand staring at one of my own turds in the toilet, wracked with sobs because it looked like a sad, flaccid penis, I would have backed slowly away from you in fear. Shit -- occasionally penis-shaped and tragic -- happens.
“I don’t have like, a plan or anything,” I said to my therapist who didn’t say anything. “But I think...it might be time?” I talked about medically treating my anxiety every other week or so. When I wasn’t talking about any of the myriad things that turned ugly and bad when viewed through the filter of my self-loathing and panic.
But, as we’ve mentioned, things were getting bad. Things were bad. The sessions leading up to this one had been rough. I burst into tears once because I was so sick of thinking about myself.
“I’m going to volunteeeeeeer,” I bawled. “I’m going to give baaaaaack,” I wailed. I researched different opportunities. I never made it to any of them. Because, you know, I’m worthless and selfish. I was losing weight because I got too worried about how I looked while eating. For the first time in my life, all my clothes were baggy.
“You look so thiiiiin!” was a common refrain. It was all like a New Yorker cartoon, only less funny. Or at least, less obtuse.
My therapist agreed with me. It was natural, she said, when you started to dig into things in therapy to take this step. She referred me to a psychiatrist. Everyone kept asking me what my worries were about taking a drug. I didn’t really have any, but I pretended like I did. If there was a pill that would stop me from slapping my own face to calm myself down in the middle of the night -- why wouldn’t I try it?
The psychiatrist was good, but weird. There was a painting in his waiting room of a mountain with two, desolate looking people at the bottom staring up at it. I resented him preemptively for having shit like that up in reception. It felt glib.
After we spoke, he suggested Fluoxetine, the generic for Prozac. We would begin very gradually and work our way up to the target dose. The plan was to help me want to do things like go into a store and buy coffee, or meet a boy for a date, or not wake up screaming in the middle of the night. Noble aspirations all. My edges felt fuzzy with relief.
He also tried to sell me on a Transcendental Meditation retreat. He literally said, “But you have to act now, this offer ends tomorrow.”
That irked me. “Like what David Lynch does?” I love David Lynch. But I can’t meditate. I hate spending that much time with myself. I hate trying to be quiet and present in my body. There’s too much noise to do it. There’s too much noise for me to even sleep some nights. When I do I dream I’ve forgotten something, I’m late somewhere, someone’s talking to me but I can’t make out what they’re saying. I wake up more tired than I was when I went to bed.
I called in the prescription for Fluoxetine and then called another number to call in the prescription for my cat’s nausea meds. I looked at my cat who was asleep and when I didn’t see his fur lift and lower immediately I clapped my hands loudly to wake him up and make sure he hadn’t died.
My cat’s 18. He is not well. Fuck it. Write it down, Stokes: He’s dying. The vet is either kind or money starved. I basically burn up my paychecks on tests and treatments while she waits for me to bring up the subject of euthanasia.
I’m not ready yet. I don’t think my cat is either. He leaps and bounds and plays and purrs. He isn’t in any pain. The idea of going to a doctor and saying, “Yes, kill him please,” is unfathomable, it makes my heart race. The irony of how I can’t conjure the same level of panic at the idea of killing myself has not escaped me. That’s probably a very good sign.
I took my first pill, and gave Rumi cat the first dose of his new medication. I patted his back, “Here we go,” I said. Actually what I said was, “Down the rabbit hole we go,” but that’s kind of embarrassing to admit. Though slightly less so than admitting that I was pretending to be Laurence Fishburne in the Matrix when I did it. Enough of this self-effacing crap: Rabbit Hole or bust, y’all.
Are you on antidepressants? What finally made you reach out? Isn't my cat adorable? That's his house pictured above. I also call it his bucket. Also, how are you guys?! Hi!