New rule: No alcohol, period. Rita, the UHS psychiatrist in charge of deciding my fate (well, my prescription), was not pleased with my weekend visit to Stillman. “How can we accurately assess your condition if you’re using mood-altering substances?”
I didn’t have a good answer for her. “It was the only way I thought I could get through the night,” I explained. She told me I needed better ways to cope. I didn’t disagree but it’s not like she had a better suggestion for working through it.
Rita told me two weeks ago that I should limit myself to “one weak drink” per night. This time, she means it. This time, I need to take her seriously. No one seems to be able to pinpoint exactly what I am, and it’s crucial that I don’t fuck up a diagnosis with substance abuse. After I have a session with my therapist Sarah tomorrow morning, the two are going to “powwow” (actual quote) and determine if I should be a) medicated or b) institutionalized. Hopefully, I escape unscathed and without a recommendation for a dosage of anything but love.
Initially when I started therapy, all I really wanted was a prescription, a quick fix that would keep me productive, prevent me from slipping during all the wrong times. But now? Pills are the last thing I want. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with being on medications; I’d do it in a second if I really believed I needed it. But I’m not so certain anymore. Sure, there are days when I can feel myself losing it, but I almost always recover so I can’t tell if I’m battling depression or angst. Sure, I can be happy without reason at one instance and completely wind down the next, but does that make me bipolar? My symptoms are so imprecise that I bristled at Rita’s suggestion that I begin taking a low dosage of antidepressants. Even she can’t say conclusively what it is I am. And further, I don’t know how these things are prescribed — at the request of the patient or the judgment of the doctor? How much does my own desire for medication influence her decision to give it to me?
“The thing is, I’m a writer,” I told her. And immediately, she understood. Beyond the qualms I have about my vague diagnosis, I’m scared that the pills needed to dull the aches of my heart will be dulling my creativity as well. Sometimes, I feel desperate enough that I’d throw in the towel when it comes to writing if it means getting through another day. It shouldn’t be like that. There has to be a better way. I asked Rita why it was so hard to stay okay, why the normality that other people took for granted was something I had to fight for on a daily basis. To others, it seems like I’m doing just fine but I’m really treading water, barely keeping above the surface, and constantly scared of sinking. This isn’t fair. It shouldn’t be this hard. I’m not even asking to be happy; I just don’t want to be sad.
Today at Urban Outfitters, I bought one of these memo pads (displayed below). Part of cognitive behaviorial therapy involves changing the way I interpret situations. But I ditched the UHS-xeroxed mood charts Sarah gave me after just two days. Following a terrible Harvard-Yale Game (which I left after a mere 20 minutes), I filled out the chart for the first time and immediately decided it was stupid. I don’t have any desire to rationalize my radical thoughts or to create more balanced interpretations of events. I’d much rather talk about how shitty I feel all the time and this kitschy notepad lets me do just that. I know, I know - -I’m self-defeating. But I can’t help the fact that I would sometimes much rather wallow in this sorrow than really work on getting better. The effort seems futile, because I simply don’t know what it’s like to be just normal. Of everything I’ve experienced in life, “normal” has been last on the list.