I think it’s the sound the bottle makes when the pills rattle down the orange, plastic siding that gets me. It’s like a little bell that rings out across the room, announcing to those around of its presence. No, they’re not the drugs that you hear about in the news or see in action-packed movies and hippie dramas that focus solely on the crappy side of life.
No, they were the ones we aren’t supposed to talk about.
I sit on the edge of my bed, burying my toes into the fluffy carpet while my I squeezed a worn towel around my soaking wet hair. The smell of melons and coconuts wafted around my freshly cleaned body which was sporting smiley face PJ shorts and an oversized Brewers shirt.
After a good while of squeezing, I released the towel from my damp hair and tossed it across the room. It landed next to the laundry basket, on top of some books. I stared at it for a few seconds, deciding whether it was worth it to get up and fix, before shrugging it off and curling underneath the warm covers to protect my hair from the cold breeze coming from the open window.
I blindly reach for the bedside lamp switch before my forearm touched something and pushed off the table to the floor. It clattered as it hit the carpet with that unmistakable chime.
I groaned, picked my head up from my pillow, and rested my chin on my elbow while looking down to that orange blob on the floor.
I let out a frustrated puff of air before reaching down and scooping it into my hand. I pulled it close to my face and held it there. I fiddled with the white sticker plastered across it, bending the corner, then straightening it, and then bending it again.
With the repetitive movement, I zoned out, consumed in the thought of what exactly lead me to holding this bottle in my hand.
Maybe it was because of the long walks at night to the bridge and wondering if the water was as cold as everyone says it was. Maybe it was because of the naps I would claim to take, only to end up weeping while hugging a bottle of painkillers for comfort. Maybe it was because of the academy award winning performance I would put on every day, smiling and laughing as if I had never felt the sting of sadness before.
But I knew the truth. The truth that I couldn’t accept. That depression isn’t something that just goes away like a cold. It’s an illness, one that people have a hard time accepting as an illness that needs medication to be cured. Some think a good therapy session and friends is sufficient enough to rid you of this “first-world problem”.
But would you ever tell a cancer patient to “be happier, it’ll cure you” or a person suffering from MS to “walk it off, it’s not that bad” or an elderly patient taking their last breaths “keep breathing, it’s not that hard”. No. Because they are suffering from something that they can’t control. So why do people think it’s okay to say that to people suffering from depression, anxiety, bulimia, anorexia, etc. that it “isn’t something that requires medical attention” to just “work it out”, or “toughen up”.
But sometimes even if they believe that it is a true illness, pills shouldn’t be an option. No, that’s what weak people do. The strong people put a smile on their face and perceiver.
But when you take the box cutter from the office and hide in the bathroom, ready to end it all, it’s no longer something you can control on your own. It’s no longer something you can smile through. That’s not normal.
So here I am, laying in my bed holding my Sertraline, Zoloft, Prozac, whatever you want to call it, in a little, plastic orange bottle. Holding the thing we aren’t supposed to talk about. We aren’t supposed to admit we have because it makes you sound weak and privileged. But I knew for a fact, that if this little pill hadn’t come into my life, I wouldn’t have been here to celebrate my 21st birthday, hug my family, hang out with my friends, graduate college, travel the world, and meet the love of my life.
It saved my life. It has saved many lives. But, we aren’t supposed to talk about it.
I push the lip of the lid down and twist the white cap off while tilting the bottle toward my open palm. The pills trickle down the side, tolling like mini bells, until one lands on my hand. I close up the bottle, place it next to the lamp, and grab the water bottle beside it. In one motion, I toss the pill into my mouth and took a sip from the water bottle, with my lips immediately beginning to pucker at the surprising tangy twist the water held.
I gagged and spat, opening up the lid to reveal the over-powered lemonade I forgot I had made that afternoon before going on a hike with my friends. I rolled my eyes, scoffed at my own stupidity, and even cracked a smile at how funny I must have looked. I snickered for a bit before placing the water bottle back on the table and clicking off the lamp.
I snuggled back into my warm bed and listened to the sounds of a lively Saturday night on campus as they drifted in with the breeze. And in the distance, beneath all the laughter and shouting, beneath the sounds of cars and crickets, I could hear the very faint sound of little chiming bells that lulled me into a deep sleep.