returning from the pharmacy

today i am 9 months sober—not a conscious choice, but one that kind of came with the territory when i ended up in a pasadena psych ward for 8 days & a venice facility for another two months.

i’ve been thinking a lot about dependency during this period. in those first weeks after detox, i was put on a number of medications—one for bipolar ii, another for major depressive disorder. one for panic, another to sleep. these are the new things i depend on to keep my emotional spectrum within a range where i can remain relatively in control of myself & have a better shot at staying sober.

i used to be dependent on alcohol—but that’s a different context. i’m not addicted to any of these pills. they’re such a secondary thought that i need to set alarms on my phone to remember to take them. i can have my pills & put them away without wanting to take every last one in the cabinet.

everything i take a pill for now, i used to manage with alcohol. in aa i hear, drinking works until it doesn’t a lot. that’s basically how it goes—drinking didn’t even feel like a conscious choice; it was a way to balance on the tight-rope i walked in my head. i knew my emotions & how to control them, i could maintain my sleep schedule without a strict routine. i could have the flexible life i wanted. it’s just, eventually, the crutch became a dependency that consumed every other part of my life. it worked until it didn’t.

there’s a trade-off for everything. i don’t get hangovers anymore, but i also don’t feel at home in my own head. i can’t identify emotions—or even if i’m having them. my thoughts haven’t changed from darkness, but my feelings drift between an unfamiliar lull & extended states of quiet sadness. there are no more spiking highs, no anticipation or inspiration. in sobering up, it feels like i both saved my life & lost it at the same time.

then, of course, there are people. i try to be reliable for those i care about, but like everyone i fall short. the term co-dependent has become a catch-all phrase of any sort of negativity in relationships (kind of like toxic), but the fact is people do depend on one another. if a person keeps flaking out on commitments then they’re not dependable. if a friend avoids being there when you need someone to listen, they probably aren’t much of a friend. and in this place, where i am constantly adjusting, how can i blame someone for not wanting to be around me when i don’t even know myself?

dependency is a challenging issue because using something or someone as a crutch can get harmful pretty quick. losing control of the self over time & losing that time to spinning out can catch plenty in an emotional cross-fire. while addiction tends to blind one to the wreckage, depending on this medication to keep me alive feels like i’m just watching a life not my own float by from inside my head. if i could feel anything at all, i wouldn’t know where to start.