Its 10:30 am. The angry hum of ever-present leaf blowers fills the air on campus. The men in bright green jumpsuits wave their magic wands and from a distance the fluttering leaves shimmer as they jump about. The air is cold and breezy, 34 degrees my phone says; my fingers are almost numb and my ears are long gone. But, I had to be out here, my bangs flying around my face in the wind. I had to feel something.
Right now I am feeling my coat, big and fuzzy and stolen from the 60’s. I did not know when I bought it that the sleeves would feel silly without ladies gloves, or that the collar would feel scratchy on my neck because I do not have a shirt collar to protect me. But I did know about the smell. My coat smells of another woman’s closet, she is sophisticated and clean. I am not. The lining is luxurious and the exterior is like a heavy carpet; everything inside the coat is warm; everywhere that peaks out is not.
I had to be out here.
Yesterday I went to see my therapist. They told me I was in crisis and set me up with the university mental health clinic. They saw me this morning, not even 24 hours passed. When I called I was told it would be several weeks and that the end of the semester is busy for them. Then my therapist called. I got what they call a triage appointment. “Triage” the same word they use in the emergency room on Grey’s Anatomy. I don’t know If I really think my mental health was a “crisis” or an emergency, but they did. My visit fee has been waived. My free counseling sessions have been extended. I have doctor’s notes. And most of all, I have a prescription.
Now, I don’t really know how I feel about prescriptions. When I was in high school receiving holistic yoga therapy, I begged for my mother to send me to someone who would issue a prescription. She never did, instead I kept breathing, and it worked. I was a lot better, but still not normal. Eventually I decided that I knew how to breath and stopped seeing that therapist. That’s when I resigned to my new normal: feeling slightly on edge always, but never over the edge, and breathing the sudden moments of panic away.
If you never looked up you wouldn’t even notice, but between classes is a curious time. All of the sudden hundreds, probably thousands, of students pour out of every building, silently. Huddled bodies shuffle across the mall, but none of them speak above the hum of the leaf blowers. It feels impossible, like I am watching a movie with the sound off.
The breathing does not work when I forget to do it, or when it feels like I cannot breath at all. I can breath, but I don’t feel like I can. Its feelings that bring that feeling on. I feel too much, more than other people I think. When I describe how I feel to people their eyes tell me that they have never felt the same and that they do not know how to say that, but often their mouths utter a sliver of sympathy. I’ve seen a few professionals in my life and every time when I talk about this, if I do talk about my feelings, I see the professional facade slip for a second, the concerned face they plaster on is replaced by a flash of empathy, sometimes heartbreak. I watch their thoughts switch from clinical to emotional and then back again, trying to figure out what it is that I am feeling, and what is wrong with me. The yoga therapist did this often, I could see her wheels turning. One time she shared with me an image that came to mind when she felt what she thought I was feeling; it did not describe what I felt, but it was the only description anyone has ever said to me that comes close to the feeling.
The feeling hurts, but I have grown to appreciate it.
Now, once I finally have a prescription, I am afraid of losing the feeling. I don’t know if I have derived some comfort from it or a dependency. Sometimes I wonder if I secretly want to hurt. It certainly seems plausible while my fingers sting in the cold air as I type.
This is why I am hesitant about the prescription, Klonopin. This is the prescription I decided to go with. The doctor, a heavier set woman with long grey hair and an office with blue-green paintings and a large sort of earthy wooden light fixture, also suggested an antidepressant which I refused for now. I cannot stop remembering the zombie we called my brother while he was on those pills. In addition, she thinks I have ADD or ADHD, but I don’t know. She advised that I consider taking Adderall or another attention medicine. I don’t think I will ever take those.
I can’t help but wonder now. Am I the exception? Am I so fucked up that I need all of these? Or does every kid who walks through those doors with a “crisis” get offered three different prescriptions? I do not now. But, it doesn’t seem right that after one session she could feel comfortable diagnosing me with ADD, Depression, and Anxiety (she also mentioned fibromyalgia).
Anyway, I am sitting on a bench, alone in near freezing temperatures because I am afraid of not feeling, but I can’t keep feeling the same way that I feel now. So instead I will feel the cold, and the wind, and my scratchy collar (but I cannot feel my fingers).