Cure for Pain

11 06 2010

Someday there’ll be a cure for pain
That’s the day I throw my drugs away
– Morphine

I feel brittle.

That’s the only way to describe it. If you touch me, I will not bend, I will not break. I will shatter into a thousand irreparable pieces.

Brittle. It’s a good word, I think.

My story becomes more difficult at this point. It’s not at all linear in my head, and I have a hard time sorting out how things happened. And I’ll be honest–I’m not going to write about everything. Even I have limits.

I wanted to be a pharmacist. It seemed a good fit, with the amount of medical and pharmaceutical knowledge I’d acquired through my health struggles. I planned out my college classes, figured out how long it would take to graduate and what my salary might be when I graduated. Then I took my first chemistry class.

So I became a pharmacy technician. I loved the classes, loved the people, loved the work. It was a perfect fit. I did half of my externship at a small independent pharmacy, and the other half at an institutional pharmacy.

This is another one of those moments where I wish I could go back in time to pinpoint exactly what I was thinking. I imagine if I knew that, everything would become clear and easy. Logically I’m aware that’s not true, but it kills me that I can’t figure out how this all happened.

At the institutional pharmacy, the medications were unit-dosed. If one of the techs had a stuffy nose or a cough, she would just grab a Sudafed or a Robitussin and pop the pill out of its neat little bubble. Somewhere in my head this translated into “if it’s not a controlled substance, it’s free game.”

Stop judging me. I think we’ve already established I wasn’t exactly thinking clearly.

Guess what’s not a controlled substance? A fun little white pill called Soma. Soma was awesome. It was like drinking, only without all the work. I started sneaking them out of the pharmacy. Not a lot, but since even one was illegal, that seems like a silly distinction to make.

My externship ended, and with it my access to the Soma buffet. But that was okay, because I had pain. Real, honest-to-goodness, prescription-worthy pain. I had horrific cramps. I had migraines. I had muscle spasms. Despite my little Soma hiccup, I didn’t misuse my prescriptions from the start. If I had a headache, I’d take a Fioricet with codeine. If my cramps had me writhing in pain, I’d take a Tylenol #3.

I found full-time work as a pharmacy tech. Situations arose in my personal life that caused anxiety, and I didn’t know what to do about it. I certainly couldn’t talk about it, because only weak people have anxiety. Strong people just deal with it. But my anxiety, coupled with the devil’s birth control (a Depo-Provera injection that made my depression even worse than usual) became overwhelming. Good thing I had a barbiturate available!

This became the pattern of my addiction. I’d have a legitimate health complaint, receive a prescription, and then use the pills to obliterate emotions I didn’t want to deal with. Narcotics stopped working for my physical pain, but they made me care a whole lot less about that pain (and pretty much everything else).

I had a full-time job, a church calling, good friends and a loving husband…and nobody suspected a thing. I knew what I was doing wasn’t exactly right, but they were prescription drugs, and if I took a little bit extra every now and then or I used them to relax it wasn’t hurting anyone, right?

I was a recreational drug user and I didn’t even realize it. It’s not like I was having a lot of fun.

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26 responses

22 08 2010
With a Little Help from My Friends « Like Swimming

[…] feeling a little fragile. Not like before, when I felt brittle – this is different. I kind of feel like I need a hug (and y’all know how I feel about […]

5 08 2010
Takes My Pain Away « Like Swimming

[…] in June, I wrote about my struggle with addiction and the path I took, and I left you hanging. I’m sorry for that. The final chapters in the cycle are the most difficult to write. I […]

12 06 2010
Maggie, dammit

I love the story Heather told of that night neither of you was really alone. I truly believe there are no coincidences in sobriety. Glad you met, and glad to “meet” you, too.

And your brother is awesome.

14 06 2010
Jenny

I’m glad to meet you too, Maggie.

My brother is completely awesome, and one of my very best friends.

12 06 2010
Becca

i love reading your posts about your depression because in many ways i can relate and i don’t feel as dumb for feeling the way i feel. KEEP WRITING! people need to hear it! used to write a lot of notes on bebo and facebook when i first was diagnosed with depression and i remember being ridiculed by certain “people”(my dad being on of them) for expressing how i felt at the time. Religious leaders and well meaning home teachers would tell me i needed more faith and everything would be better. i have my own addiction that i’m trying to face right now(though nowhere near as monumental as yours). i acknowledge the problem, i don’t know how to go about getting help or rather, i’ve tried all the avenues i can think of but i am getting no where. hopefully one day i can be as strong as you and find the courage to face my problem head on.

14 06 2010
Jenny

Becca, you know I love you. I’m here for whatever you need. And stop trying to talk down your problems (“though nowhere near as monumental as yours”). Every stumbling block is huge to the person facing it. Doesn’t matter what it looks like to anyone else.

11 06 2010
Janice

I don’t have to tell you I love the opening of this post. 🙂 I love you and think you’re awesome for sharing your story…there are so many people out there who are afraid to talk about what eats at them, let alone put it out for the world to read. Your blog is the first thing I read every single morning…I have a post I want to do about you…eventually. I LOVE YOU and YOU’RE AWESOME!!!

11 06 2010
talesofmy30s

I came here after reading Heather’s post as well. May you find the strength within yourself and the help from others that you need.

11 06 2010
crnnoel

I’m here from Heather’s post as well 🙂 I
By sharing your story, parts that make sense and don’t, you’re helping someone. And it’s so therapeutic to get it out… I feel like blogging has helped me so much on my road through/on recovery. It’s scary, the hold that our addictions have on us, even when we’re not using. Scary. And what always freaks me out is that people didn’t know I was an alcoholic. Which (when I’m feeling really crazy) makes me think how easy it would be to go back… but that’s the addiction talking, and I’m rambling, but mostly, I want you to know that we’re all in this together.
Subscribing momentarily… 🙂 Glad to have been introduced to you!

12 06 2010
Jenny

You aren’t rambling at all. Or if you are, my brain is rambling right along with you. 🙂

Being so very public about this kind of puts a safety net in place for me–a system of accountability. The things we keep secret continue to have power over us, and you’re right–it’s scary.

Thanks for making it a little less scary.

11 06 2010
Kazzy

I came here after reading Heather’s post referring to you today. Thanks for your honesty and transparency. I am sorry you suffer this way, and I hope you find peace and healing. Best wishes.

11 06 2010
Jenny

Thank you. I’m getting there.

11 06 2010
Esther

Every new entry you write makes me have more respect for you. Thanks for sharing. I don’t have the same trials you do, but knowing I am not the only one having trials, makes me feel that much more calm with this crazy world. Thank you for being a friend that has been so supportive when I chose things not everyone else agreed with. You will never know how much that means to me.

11 06 2010
Jenny

You know I’m the last person who would judge you for anything. I want you to find happiness–in whatever form it may take. Also, I love your tattoo. 😉

11 06 2010
Mimi

I find it interesting (creepy?) that that drug is called “Soma.” Have you ever read “Brave New World” by Aldous Huxley? They had soma parties where everyone took this drug and were all happy la-la and promiscuous.

Anyway, I still love you and, again, I appreciate your willingness to share your life! 🙂

11 06 2010
MidnightCafe

I followed Heather’s link over at the EO to come check out your blog. I wanted to let you know that you’re both some of the most courageous people out there! It takes a whole lot of strength to admit when you’ve got a problem. And, believe me, most of us have one kind of problem or another that we’re hiding, even if it isn’t an addiction. To admit that you might not have it all together all the time is one of the hardest things to do. I admire you! Thanks for being willing to tell your story.

11 06 2010
Jenny

I’ve had a lot of preconceived notions about other people. In fact, working as a pharmacy tech, I did a lot of judging about the addicts who came through. I thought I was better than them. Even when I was using, I knew was better than them.

Life has a way of humbling us, and that’s when we need to reach out to others.

I sometimes wonder why I’m posting these things. Thank you for reminding me.

11 06 2010
Judi

Jenny~Thank you for sharing your story! It makes me love you all the more.

11 06 2010
Kristina P.

I think that this is such an important story to tell. Prescription drug overdoses are the number one cause of ODing in Utah. But so many people don’t think they have a problem or an addiction if they can get it in a bottle legally. It’s just as dangerous, if not more so, than crack or heroin.

I had a friend, who was taking at least 10 Xanax a day. I told her that if she didn’t get help, I was going to call her husband and her family. She was so mad at me. Threatened to stop talking to me. I told her I would rather he be ABLE to stop talking to me, than be dead.

11 06 2010
Jenny

That’s one of the major problems–culturally (in Utah), drinking is frowned upon, so people medicate in any “legal” way they can. It’s easier to treat the symptoms of depression and anxiety rather than addressing the root causes.

11 06 2010
Peter

Your response to Kristina triggered a question in my head, which I’m asking honestly and not in any judgmental way: Were the drugs “easier” for you than alcohol because you considered them “legal,” religion-wise? Or was it the convenience as you discussed in your post? Like I said, not judging; it’s just an honest inquiry.

Thanks for sharing all of this. It’s amazing how much I’m learning about my sister, and I’m grateful for the inside view (it’s true that none of us had a clue). That being said, I’m concerned that you are at a low point already and describe yourself as “brittle” while writing these posts. While I know posts such as this one can be therapeutic for yourself and helpful to others, I hope you don’t push yourself to that shattering point you described just for the sake of your readers. Do take care of yourself first and foremost.

12 06 2010
Jenny

I think a lot of it was the feeling that drugs were “legal.” And they were a lot easier to sneak around than alcohol. After all, at that point in time, bars in Utah weren’t smoke-free, and coming home smelling like cigarette smoke is kind of a dead giveaway.

Your concerns are certainly valid, and I’ll take them under consideration. I’m not going to push myself too far just for the sake of increased readership, but I need to push myself a little or I’ll just sit in the corner until I blow away. Figuratively speaking, of course. It’d take gale-force winds to actually blow me away.

11 06 2010
Sue

I am here and I am reading. I look forward to reading your writing each morning.

11 06 2010
Jenny

I love that you let me know every day that you’re still here. 🙂 Thanks for your support. I know you “get” a lot of where I’m coming from (at least with the pregnancy stuff).

11 06 2010
Heather of the EO

I know it kills you to not be able to make sense of what in the world you were thinking. But you know, we addicts…well, we usually don’t do a whole lot of conscious thinking about such things. It’s that whole robot thing, you just DO instead of thinking.

You’re so brave to tell your story honestly.

I think you rock the party.

11 06 2010
Jenny

The robot thing scares me, because I always want to be in control. Which makes the whole drug/alcohol thing make even less sense…yeah, I know. I have to stop trying to make sense of it. It is what it is, and all I can do is be conscious of it every day.

Brave and honest? Right back at you, lady. Thanks for linking.

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