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