Whilst living in this beautifully complex, relentlessly bewildering and unexpectedly shifting life, we will experience a myriad of emotions we simply don't care to feel, EVER.
I'm talking about the seemingly impossible pain that cuts so achingly deep. Whether we’re consumed by the perils of anxiety or paralyzed by the weary bleakness of depression -- extreme emotional distress of any sort is so awful.
Sometimes the only escape from the darkness of ourselves lies in the silk-textured, diamond-adorned arms of the exquisitely evil temptress, that sweetly forbidden mistress, our sweetly succulent vixen in the flesh: Lady Self-Medication.
She dresses in many different styles and can be utilized in an impressive amount of ways. You can snort her, drink her, smoke her, f*ck her or shoot her directly into your bloodstream.
She's always armed with a heaping price tag (not just money, she takes multiple forms of payment); however, she has this incomparable ability to melt away those vicious feelings and iron out the traumatic events that mar our memories.
Don't get me wrong, "self-medicating" is a very different beast than medicating responsibly in collaboration with a trusted medical professional as a means to function in the world.
As someone who probably wouldn’t have survived years 22 and 26 without the kind help of Sir Lexapro, I wouldn't dare shame anyone who requires prescription medication in order to thrive in the world. It helped me at a time, when I had fallen so far down the rabbit hole.
But this isn’t about me; it’s about the dangerous cycle we find ourselves stuck in the very moment we decide it's time to take dire matters into our own unqualified hands and drug the pain away.
I completely understand that "numbing the pain" with drugs can definitely provide some well-needed temporary relief (though, on rare occasions it can exacerbate it -- hello drunken meltdown). The tricky little conundrum is this: Band-aids weren't built to adhere to the surface of our skin forever.
So what would happen if we dared to STOP numbing and had the courage to start FEELING?
We wouldn’t constantly live in the throes of withdrawal.
Xanax, whiskey, Ambien, cocaine and company can often make us feel a coveted combination of blissfully numb, out-of-this-world confident, superbly in-control-skinny and otherworldly sensual.
When you reside in the pit of depression, these falsified feelings of wellbeing can serve as a well-needed break from our incessant hell.
Herein lies the wicked ways of most hard drugs; they all have a wicked rebound effect. Anyone who has ever taken a ride on the bender train knows how much f*cking worse he or she feels when the drugs wear off.
We intoxicate to prevent ourselves from feeling these nightmarish feels, but as soon as the sunlight cuts through the darkness of night, it becomes impossible to hide in the black anymore. We find ourselves vulnerable and exposed by the vile sunlight of the morning after.
Imagine how much sweeter life would be without these paralytic ups and downs? Imagine if we gave the chemicals in our brains an opportunity to level out, and we could feel things as they are?
Depression is hard enough without it being amplified with the chemical sadness of a comedown.
We could finally face and make peace with our innermost demons.
Anyone who makes it through the roller coaster of adolescence has a relatively scary demon from the past he or she wishes to avoid.
Sometimes our incessant blackouts are simply an unconscious effort in blurring our most painful memories.
When we’re high all of the time, everything becomes but a muddled mess -- our past becomes murky, and it’s hard to tell what was dream (nightmare) and what actually happened.
If we stop numbing and start feeling, we are able to dig deep and get to the root of what f*cked us up to begin with. We have to stare the past down, even if it scares us to the core.
Only after confrontation can we be set free from the chains of this ever-impossible monster that's holding us back and destroying our lives.
Our relationships would be healthy and REAL.
The cliché “misery loves company” rings particularly true when it comes to those of us seeking relief through the not-so-fine art of substance abuse.
It’s as if we can smell the despair permeating from the pores of fellow hapless souls, hoping to drown their sorrows through the bottom of a whiskey bottle with a comrade.
These friendships serve as the very definition of danger and toxicity because they're founded on ONE thing and ONE thing alone: getting f*cked up.
And we are smart (even if our actions are currently proving otherwise). We know that while getting supremely f*cked up can be fun (until it's not), it's no solid basis for any real relationship.
All the sisterly bonding we kid ourselves into believing is REAL with this "friend" is simply a result of us just being f*cked out of our heads with another person.
What’s convenient about this dynamic of destruction is this: We intrinsically know our partner-in-substance is avoiding a pain similar to our own, so there is no threat of an intervention.
We don't want to lose those who justify our mind-numbing ways, and neither do they.
Meanwhile our true friends (remember them?) will insist we get help, see a therapist and, dare they suggest, work through the hard stuff.
They have far more to offer us than an overpriced white powder, like advice, support and dependability. The ones who disapprove of the way we're choosing to deal are the ones who care.
Invest your precious time with them. They are real. They're the ones who are there through the breakups, the irritating moves up six-story walkup apartment; they're the ones who will succumb to the daunting task of picking us from the airport or helping us to embellish our resumes when applying for our dream jobs.
We could channel our pain into something creative and inspiring.
We need to feel in order to create. Real art is rich with substance; it has this boundless ability to invoke a mind-blowingly beautiful palette of feelings within us.
People have an inherent urge to immerse themselves in books, music, film and art because feeling a broad spectrum of emotions feels good.
If we took these expansive feelings of unrest and channeled them into our creative work, we could be the ones creating powerful art that has the magnificent ability to move and inspire others.
I encourage you to write it down, talk it out, draw it, paint it, wrestle with it, film it and photograph it. Unearth these precious gems of honesty and use them to create something groundbreaking.
When I'm ready to run away from myself, I always remind myself of this gold nugget of truth from Augusten Burroughs:
Truthfulness itself is almost medication, even when it’s served without advice or insight.
There are places we can get help:
Most of us don't realize there are endless resources that exist on this fine planet to help us (I know I didn't). Even if you're flat broke, there are organizations whose entire purposes lie in helping people like you. Here are a few: