• The Madness Issue

    Extended Release – My Body on Certain Drugs

    The Madness Issue

    Extended Release

    Stimulants, anti-anxiety meds, SSRIs, oh my! Rachel Allen recounts a day of her body on various drugs.

    10:40 am: I wake up. I send some texts about porn and theory. Yesterday I took an Ativan on the train home and then another one while I took a bath. I slept well. I get the best hangover (a very specific heart feeling) whenever I take my Ativan and during it I like to bury myself in bed and read Twitter. 

    I am still unemployed.

    11:00 am: I get out of bed and look for my instant release Adderall. I don’t want to take it, but I need a job. I can only find my extended release Adderall. I don’t want to commit to amphetamine for the next 8 hours, but I do.

    11:30 – 11:55 am: I redo my eye makeup three times, trying to make my cat eyes match. I feel annoyed knowing they still don’t, but the part of me that isn’t speeding convinces the other part to let it go. 

    11:56 am: My eyes have a more definite position within my skull as I type into my phone: “essay on Adderall?” I think about that click bait article where the guy draws himself on different drugs. 

    I also think about [that column][1] Cat Marnell wrote for VICE and how she said she wanted to make it rhyme because that’s how she thinks on stimulants. My speeding body never rhymes; it clicks like a small machine with limbs tight and ready. 

    12:30 pm: I dig through a box of clothes. I hang some clothes in my closet. I am kind of moving. I feel so capable that I am incapable of not fixing what needs to be fixed. I write on my hand: “consign some clothes.”

    12:52 pm: I eat two pretzels. 

    1:00 pm: I book a flight. I write an email to a former professor and then erase it and re-write it. 

    In high school and college, I took Adderall every day. If I didn’t take it, I would sleep in incredible binges. Post-grad, I take it when I have to go to work or complete tasks or feel thinner. 

    1:21 pm: I organize the windows and tabs I have open by subject. One window with four shopping tabs; one window with seven tabs of “research”; one window with eight tabs of jobs I should apply for; one window with one tab for email. 

    1:50 pm: Writing on Adderall feels like arranging tiny grains of sand but, like, really caring that I do it right. It’s a task to be done with tweezers. I fucking hate to write prose on Adderall, but I am an absolute star at making lists. The lists I make on Adderall are florid; they are precise; they are exhaustive. Today I have made four different lists on my phone: one of deadlines, one of ways to make money without getting a job, one of things to do today and one of places I want to go in New York this weekend.

    2:26 – 3:18 pm: I’m not hungry, but I decide to eat something. I buy a green juice and drink a quarter of it. While I’m out, I buy a pair of $34 sunglasses, which feels decadent given my current financial situation. 

    3:45 pm: I talk to my dog in a high-pitched voice. Under Adderall, my emotional landscape is capitalist. I can feel fizzy and capable. I can feel a sense of hope, like things are going to be okay because I’m so capable and because I have such a focused vision of the path to okay. Other times I just feel like I’ve swallowed a panic attack. 

    Whatever I feel, I bear with the same flat voice and consciousness of having to hold my jaw. I feel annoyed at socializing; Adderall is an autism. I only show affection to Edie the dog.

    6:00 pm: I decline a dinner invitation. 

    When I was 12, I started going to therapy because I stopped eating. At some point I was declared “recovered.” Then I got caught throwing up and went back to therapy. The therapist told me I was depressed and recommended a psychiatrist. I tried Lexapro and Wellbutrin and hated them. 

    Around the same time, my brother was diagnosed with ADHD. I saw an angle and pitched it. As I said to my psychiatrist, I was disorganized and distracted, and wouldn’t a stimulant really be the best counter to my inert depression? He wrote me prescriptions for both instant and extended release without testing me for ADHD. I was smaller on Adderall than I’d ever been with an eating disorder. 

    I floated the idea of an anxiety disorder to my psychiatrist after years of taking prescription-less Klonopin when I felt like I was going to die. I left his office with a prescription for lorazepam, the dosage of which we’ve slowly upped over the years.

    7:25 pm: I go by a friend’s childhood home and pick up some things to bring to New York for her. I talk to her mother about the paintings she’s been doing. She offers me wine, but I decline that too. 

    8:30 pm: I make some pasta. I’m not hungry, only thirsty. I make myself a drink and feel drunk almost immediately.  

    In an hour, I’ll take an Ativan and edit this. 

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