Essays

Insanity in a pill

It is a very tiny pill.

This pill is less than half the square area of my pinky nail. Every morning that I pop it out of its case, I am struck, just for a second, at just how small it is. It plinks down onto the counter (I am careful to pop it out very close to the surface for after two or three times of it popping out, hitting the counter, and then popping off to hide, I have learned my lesson) and then I pick it up, take a swig of water from a bottle, and down the hatch it goes.

And that’s it.

I feel nothing. At least, now, I feel nothing.

After the first two days I started taking that tiny little pill, I subsequently cried more in the next 48 hours than I have in the last 15 years (or more) of my life. I was never one taken to tears – I found, in fact, still often find them overly emotional, a bit too soppy for my nature – but, I had no choice.

I had no choice. Those tiny little pills wrecked my equilibrium, my carefully developed and habituated detachment, with the force of a wrecking ball going through a toy paper house.

I was unmade. I had been driven insane by a tiny little pill.

My best friend made a remark disagreeing with me, something that happens often and never bothers me, because if your friends can’t disagree with you, who can? And I found myself sitting at my desk clenching my hands into tight, angry fists, and I felt a force stirring up like a cyclone in my chest, and my thoughts started to hammer in my head:

“Why am I feeling like this? It didn’t mean anything. What is wrong with me? Why …. why … am I about to cry? Why am I crying? This is insane! It’s nothing. It was nothing! He meant nothing. What–?”

And I found myself minutes later in tears and now my tears were meta-tears because I was frustrated that I was frustrated and frustrated that I had no control over my frustration. For years, I had prided myself on my ability to be level headed and rational, to be able to put these things in the boxes where they belonged, and to embrace calm detachment.

Now, everything was being tossed out of boxes, all the toys in the pram had been flung out, by me! and calm was nowhere in sight. It was not on the horizon, it was not on the continent, and it felt very far away from the planet to which my feet were attached.

But, I kept taking those tiny little pills and these incidents of being utterly overwhelmed kept happening! I reached out to female friends for their opinions and my question was a perplexed: “Is this how it normally is?” Their laughter, sympathetic and yet confirmatory, unyielding, and deep, was not the response I wanted, but I suppose I had no choice but to accept it.

It calmed down, eventually. Every day, I take my tiny little pills. It serves its primary purpose of keeping certain things in order for me, but the side effect, the few weeks where it tossed everything else out of whack for me, where both maddening and illuminating.

I had been humbled. I had gotten a dose of reality for 50% of the human population. I had gotten to experience the true power of my emotions and the true power of my humanity.

I wouldn’t trade it for anything.

Temporary insanity for true empathy. Worth it.

 

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