For many of us, the idea of confession comes in the form of someone walking into a handcrafted booth and beguiling a story of verbose and non-linear sputum to an all forgiving figure. After doing so, they are absolved of any wrong doing and residual reflection of said confession. If only it were that easy…
Today, I walked into a handcrafted building. Not a booth. I walked in with the same intent, however – to confess… and that’s exactly what I did. I lowered my head and began to speak. I was not bowing for religiosity or symbolism – but more-so to mimic an ostrich; doing-so out of shame while hiding behind the fallacy of protection. I was ashamed of my self. I-am-ashamed-of-myself…
My therapist sat within her chair, ever vigilant and scrupulously observant of our interaction. Through somber tone I began to speak. I was itchy with agitation. Uncomfortable within my own skin. I looked left and right, though I was crossing no street. Part of me wanted to lie and say nothing at all – but part of me understood that I had already been doing that for the past several weeks… so, I opened my pitiful mouth and began to speak…
What followed was a confession. A confession I will reveal to all of you as well. A confession not easy to explain. A confession that has been years in the making…
I hate meds. I hate them. I hate them perhaps more than I hate the sun. I hate that orange, yellow bottle. I hate the hollow sound the pills croon while inside of that cylindrical hell. That chalky taste that staples itself to your tongue after swallowing… I hate meds – I hate pills. I fucking hate them. And today, I hate to admit, yet had to admit that I was not taking them… Though prescribed many, I am taking none… I tried. Please believe this part of my confession, I tried. Oh, I did… but I couldn’t… not any longer.
I am sure the judgements have started by now. Rest assured, no one can judge me as harshly as I judge myself… no one… I have years of practice and I am good at it. Good being relative here…
When I mustered enough intrepidity, I raised my head and looked towards the unflinching gaze of my therapist; I first spoke the words ‘I am sorry…” and then began to explain myself… if there was any justification at all…
From behind my eyes came a tremor of tears. I bit the back of my tongue so as to dissuade them. It worked… for a fleeting moment. Within that momentary pause of emotion, I began to speak. I hoped that I was being clear amidst my jumbled and bouncing thoughts and fears.
“Doc, I need to tell you something and I hope you won’t cease being my therapist after I do…”
After my utterances and chair shuffling, she remained ready to receive what I had to say…
“Hey, Doc, I’m sorry… You know the progress that I have made? The good stuff, I mean? That’s just been you and I… No meds… I – I haven’t been taking the meds…” And just like that, I confessed. I opened my mouth and withdrew the lie. We had been doing this alone – together.
I was afraid to look at her face, so I picked a spot on her shoulder instead. And much like an all forgiving priest, she digested my sin and rephrased it in the form of a question, in absence of judgement. It was in response to her question that I had to truly confess. All I had done at that point was throw the bait into the water. Fuck… she took the bait. Now I had to fish to fruition.
My disdain for pharmaceutical methodologies is no secret between her and I. Especially after November, when pills killed my mother. But in actuality, it dates back well before then… well before demons took her. It dates back to when they almost killed me – even before I stood atop an overpass waiting to jump… I was a kid when I first wanted to die…
Growing up with a parent that suffered from depression and austere illness such as, cancer is no picnic. Growing up with a parent that reminded you of how much she wanted to die everyday, even less-so. And in the absence of having a father, the fear of having no one, should she follow through with her nefarious proclamations, well, that’s terrible nearing indescribable. Especially with the realization that my mother had already attempted suicide prior in her life. Saturday mornings, in the stereotype, were meant for cartoons; often times mine were hallmarked by my mother’s threats of killing herself and demanding ‘bright colors’ at her funeral. Those statements would seemingly come from nowhere.
As I got older and began navigating through the turbulent waters of adolescence, her numerous incantations of taking her own life became unbearably hard to dismiss. My youthfully undeveloped mind would race in fear thinking about a life without my mother. I would be an orphan… Even typing that makes fourteen-year-old me, cry.
Growing up, with an ill-mother meant that my young and able body was responsible for getting my mother her nightly pills from the cupboard.
“Matty, make, mum a tea and get her sleeping pills, will you, love?”
Back then I had no knowledge of what the grandiloquently scrawled names meant, on my mother’s bottles. I knew some were for sleeping while others were for pain. Mostly by appearance at that stage in my life. The darkness would come on those nights after having handed my mother the bullets to her ideological gun. Watching as her alertness gave-way to drowsiness and euphoric dissociation from the world – from me, her baby boy…
She would eventually stumble up the stairs and into her bed. There were parts of me that feared that I may have killed her. I always thought pills would kill her. If it were a weekend and I was left to my own bed time, I would go and check on her throughout the night. I would peer in through the door and make sure she was breathing. I would hold my breath until I saw hers.
So, why did I lie? Why did I stop, or barely begin to take the pills prescribed to help me? Because, what I haven’t told you yet, is what I would do with my mother’s pills…
I told you growing-up with a parent like her wasn’t easy, and it wasn’t. Numerous times a year, sometimes multiple times a day I would hear my mother speak of death in a concupiscent way. This didn’t only frustrate me, it petrified me! I had no father. He was arrested when I was young. He cared so little for me that he would rather beat me and molest me as opposed to raise me. And my mother longed for death even while sat next to me. I felt lonely before I was ever alone. I felt abandoned before she even died. So, on those nights when the fear of being discarded ran through my growing veins, I would wait until my mother went to sleep, then I would slowly plant my feet on the steps one at a time until I had reached the downstairs. Once there, I would go to the cupboard that held her pills. The sleeping pills. The pain pills. The pills of oddly hued tapestry. I would grab the bottle labeled Trazadone – those made her sleepy… I would take that bottle and its contents into the bathroom upstairs, and I would sit on the toilet or the edge of the tub and remove the cap. Sometimes, on the bad nights, I would even splay the dull tablets within my weary hand. I would moisten the inside of my mouth in preparation to take them. Sometimes I would even huff-and-puff deeply, as if to psych myself up to it. As you can tell, I never did. I would instead place the pills back inside of the plastic tube and return them to cupboard from which they came. This is a dance that repeated itself throughout my adolescence. A young man who had yet to live wanted to die – what a waltz indeed.
My brother jokes about having taken half-a-trazadone of my mother’s, so as to help him sleep. I have never told him but, so did I… I wanted to see what death might be like… I was sixteen…
Fast-forward eighteen years, and my mother finally did it – took the pills. Ended it all. Left me alone. At age 34, I became an orphan. When she was 34, she had me… When she was 68, she left me.
I hate pills. And this is my confession.
I will get better. I will. It just won’t be with pills. I can’t. I won’t. The same as I didn’t all those years ago – I won’t.
This is my confession. And my proclamation, unlike my dear ole, mum’s, is life. I choose to live. Even on the days that it hurts.
So, don’t judge me. As I said, no one can judge me as harshly as I judge myself.
I confessed that I’m not taking my meds anymore to my doctor. I hated how they made me feel how I was walking in a clouded stated around my children. So I walk in the mornings, paint, write, talk to my therapist and still have my bad days but I’m not cloudy. No judgment coming from this direction.
It is entirely understandable why you don’t take the pills. The behave associations are too during for them to offset therapeutic benefit. I’m not sure if the exact stats but I’m sure that “talk” therapy has better outcomes, particularly if you are motivated to confront those demons. It may be that a combo of meds and talk tend to be best I most situations, but you are not most situations; you are you with your situation.
By anyone’s reckoning you have had a really shitty experience.no, I don’t mean just one experience, I mean a general experience of life. I’m so very sorry about that. Yet, in all that you show such a sense of survival. It’s likely that you have ‘medicated ‘ yourself with a variety of things, such as writing these powerful and profound blogs. Maybe you can get strength knowing that you offer insights to others who have not walked your path. There may also be other things you do to keep your head above water and move forward.
I can see why you’d need to ‘ confess ‘ the no meds, especially if they were considered to be a parallel aspect off your treatment, however, you are in charge of your therapy and your health, and making decisions is essential. You have reasons for this decision at this time.
Thank you, Sue, for your kind words. It means a lot to me.
I bet you feel like a huge weight is off of your shoulders! my daughter hates pills as well and she tells me I cannot understand and she is right, not from her perspective anyway, I just love her and want her to be well and it seems, without the meds it can be a struggle. I know you are fighting hard, always cheering for you!
Thank you, my friend.
Be proud of yourself, it takes guts to do what you have done. Keep walking the straight walk!!!
All my best brother.
I don’t know why anyone would judge you . I certainly don’t. I hope revealing that gave you some peace.
Thank you for sharing!