Lately, I have been absolutely captivated by nothingness. Somewhere between writer’s block and psychiatric watch, I told myself and others who noticed I was off. Perhaps it was a phase, growing pains, something of that sort. Or a big lie, for I have always believed in the mantra itself; “life is nothing but a beautiful lie,” but this time I felt as though I spent too long staring in the eyes of the facts to portray this lie any longer.
I know it isn’t much in the grand scheme of things, but this time I decided to write this. I used every inch of motivation to write about this topic, one last time, because I felt as though now more than ever I couldn’t escape it. For I have been battling, fighting and losing a war with myself. One that I have recently realized I cannot control.
So, here it is; the story of battling addiction and not overcoming it.
To feel nothing but a longing to a substance that knowingly lacerates your mind. You know all too well you’re alone with this. You can’t have people fix you and you can’t blame people and say they signed you up for this. Now I’ve just hit a wall because I can’t see the gains but I can’t stop. I can’t separate myself from it and I can’t find anyone to help.
It started when I was fifteen. My first opioid. I’ll never forget it. A year prior to that, I was diagnosed: insomnia and depression. I had tried over-the-counter pills enough to be immune and decided that if I was going to beat this thing called depression, I would need something stronger and something prescribed. Since then, not a single day has gone by where I have not been able to shake the addiction. The seed was planted in my mind and has now grown into something I myself can’t even understand or sterilize.
A year from then, I was on the Prozac. The Zoloft, the Ritalin, the Ativan, Lorazepam, then oxycodone, Percocet’s, T4s, Valium — it spiraled. I was completely out of control, unless I was completely sedated. Looking back, I wonder often, what the fuck happened in that year that lead to such extremes? Well, ironically, I realized that I was not only alone in these idiosyncrasies, but that I was too detached from reality to even see the reality of the situation; meaning addiction is a mental illness and even in 2018 mental illnesses are not being tackled or given proper remedies. That is not to say that there has been no progression, however the progression perhaps has just scratched the surface. Here’s why:
- Mental health problems have and will always be society’s favorite scapegoat
Maybe not the favorite – but one of the top. I cannot seem to forget the speech that elected President Trump made about the mass shooting in California and how this was a result of people with mental health issues. I think about that speech a lot actually. Especially when I see that box when applying for jobs or other applications that states; ‘do you have any of the following disabilities’ ‘depression’ and I refrain to select it – even though my depression is so conspicuous to my inner self that I could cut it with a knife. Then I get the job, and I think I’m fine. It’s a PR job, it’s intense, and not one day goes by that I don’t think about how different things could be if I had maybe ticked that box. Why didn’t I do it? Well I, like most people, needed the money and could not risk not getting this job because of my mental health problems. Then one day, I take the elevator and start to cry like a baby. For reasons I am still unsure, for when I have my days the simple act of cutting the grass could trigger me into complete and utter panic. I stand in that elevator, alone, heaving and frantically pressing buttons, completely out of control and wishing I was dead. The door opens and I run to the toilet. As I look in the mirror all I can tell myself is, “you should’ve ticked the fucking box.”
- It’s in our generational DNA
Now, I don’t even have to find statistics to tell you that being a teenager in 2018 means debt for some BA at a university, struggles to find a job that pays off that debt, struggles to find a job that can pay a down payment on a house when you already feel the social pressure of living at home when you’re 23 and your dad keeps reminding you he moved out when he was 15. Need I go on? Not to mention the pressures to get into university – for you are probably unlikely to even get a job as a manager at a department store without a degree of some kind – and the pressure to decide which degree will get you a job and which degree will make a great mousepad. Cynical? Perhaps, but it is no bias or opinion to face the facts that being a millennial or a teen is not as financially feasible as it’s been for our parents (who psychologically have a hold over us to be our best selves). Where does this generation really even fit in? On Instagram maybe. For it portrays a hyper realness that eases these pressures and gives us our daily dosage of digital dopamine. On Instagram, I can still get some social validation without having to face any of the harsh realities that lie in my own path. Maybe that is a stretch, for Instagram isn’t some world I can just tune into like Tron legacy – or is it? I still haven’t decided. All I know, is when I was 15 I wanted to lose weight. I wanted to so bad for I thought if I just lost some weight, all other things in my life (SATs, boys, parents, university application results) wouldn’t feel as heavy – for I had lost the weight and I would look great. So, I went on social media and found my #thinspo that kept me on track of my goal. It was my own, it was control, it was a disorder that I didn’t understand at the time – but in every order, there is a secret disorder. That blossomed into a full fledge eating disorder, that I am still battling. It developed into skipping meals, puking meals, smoking and popping pills to achieve that goal. I needed it, for I couldn’t afford to feel anymore failure. Now, I see some of those #thinspo photos on Instagram, or similar, with their likes and their comments and I instantly feel triggered. Then I see the photos of the people I know, slimmed, photo shopped, even celebrities do it! Kim K thinned out her own daughter’s arms and stomach… Once again, I’m not alone.
I guess I chose to live in two different worlds. One which was hyper real, dopamine, temporarily satisfying and completely fake. Heaven was digital, hell was digital, but it was a world and it was fascinating and interesting. It made me confident and likeable but it was fake. The other one was insatiable and ruined. It was real and there was no hope. Politics, future, dreams, that version of life I had been told about didn’t seem to be in my hand of cards. It was hard to live in that world because everything seemed so wrong but there was no solution on how to make it all better. Everything was just ruined.
Going back and forth between these worlds was exhausting and mentally tormenting and left me completely lost when faced with myself. I was disconnected from these worlds because in my mind I knew that they both couldn’t coexist. I could keep planting seeds, and digging for gold but somehow each hole I dug was just filled with worms. Even worms die eventually.
Everything I saw that was hyper real was catered to me and fed me what I wanted. Everything that was actually real was completely disappointing, and left me depressed. That temporary happiness may just be the closest I’ll ever get to real happiness, but it was fake and that prohibited me from allowing that world to take over. I dreamt of leaving both and completely disconnecting, but knew that if I ever did I wouldn’t be able to cope. I was in too deep, and needed that next hit of dopamine. I needed that reminder that the world wasn’t so bad, and that if it all blew up that wouldn’t be the best thing for it. I searched desperately for reason but couldn’t find it anywhere but in places that created the right algorithms for my own psych, but in reality, I was potentially psychotic?
I would bounce between insane hits of happiness and utter loneliness and sadness. I had no sturdy frequency or control over my own emotions. I was scared to face who I was outside of each world, and I knew deep down that I could make no sense of who I was to be in each world. Each day I thought, just get through this day and worry about the next later. I was shockingly dependent on things that I didn’t even think mattered and was constantly unsatisfied with the things that did. Was this just depression? Or a disease? Was I insane? Or just normal? Was this society, that risk society that that German philosopher wrote about? Was this the eternal return that Nietzsche was talking about?
How to live turned into how to avoid any risks. How to just make do and get by, and not question because the answers were too unfathomable. We know we can’t trust the news, the banks or the politicians but we don’t think of why. This is a norm and it’s what we’ve been handed so we must just make it work somehow. Therefore, we don’t need truth, or trust or leadership because to us it’s not reality.
- Oh yeah, the actual opioid crisis
Who in the right mind would prescribe a fifteen-year-old antidepressants or opioids and not be 100% sure that the medication was A) taken properly, B) monitored, and C) absolutely necessary? Once again, it is more common than it should be. This time, I actually gathered statistics because it is maybe not as obvious to those reading.
- more than 115 people in the United States die after overdosing on opioids
- The misuse of and addiction to opioids—including prescription pain relievers, heroin, and synthetic opioids such as fentanyl—is a serious national crisis that affects public health as well as social and economic welfare
- The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that the total “economic burden” of prescription opioid misuse alone in the United States is $78.5 billion a year
- The Midwestern region saw opioid overdoses increase 70 percent from July 2016 through September 2017
- Opioid overdoses in large cities increase by 54 percent in 16 states
- 10 percent of Americans take antidepressant medication
- More than 60 percent of Americans on antidepressants have taken them for 2 years or longer.
- The rate of antidepressant use in the U.S. increased by almost 400 percent between 2005-2008.
- 7% The percentage of the U.S. population over age 12 who took antidepressant medication in the past month, according to an analysis from the National Center for Health Statistics.
Life is hard sometimes and what is all the anger for? How unfair how the evil feels unaccounted for? For the hatred and the prejudices, and the average little leverages that never mean anything more than a daily dose of dopamine, when does the director cut the scene? Staring right in front of me, I just can’t turn away because I’m afraid of being stuck with my own self, who’s just never enough. It’s a mess and I’m a wreck and life’s insatiable and awkward, time is just a bad word and love is just a curse word. It quickly turns to war and it quickly fades away, nothing is enough and this era is just ruined too much to want to stay. But I’ll find another way, I’ll hope for better days. Tomorrow is good, let’s focus on that. Let’s find reason in all of what seems so deceptive. Reason to believe that all of this is happiness, you’re able to get it too you’re able to pull yourself through but after seeing what the world is, would you really want to? I get it, just forget it. Just run a headline and sell it. Just rephrase it and fund it so someone can hit and run on it. I’m not better but I can be. I’m not alone but I want to be. There’s a reason we’re all here and there’s a reason for a ruin, so things can grow again after downpours and snow. Things can grow again all it takes is some seeds, and a reason or two.
So now I have to sit and read to myself a letter to myself every single night; Think about now and then think about then. How bad will this play out for you at this rate you are going? You know the scary truth. The pursuit of truth does not mean being deceived, but it allows you to not deceive anyone, not even yourself. A mistake is not a mistake if you learn something from it. Self-destruction isn’t the cure but the adversary when it comes to this and you know it. You know how it makes you feel about yourself late at night when it can’t save you from your own regret and guilt.