Passenger

They make antidepressants in several strengths and styles. They come in many names and flavors. BoosPar. Paxil. Wellbutrin. Zoloft.

The red bottle with the blue neck ring in the medicine cabinet belongs to me, so says the Target pharmacy. It’s called Sertraline and it’s the generic form of Zoloft. It has a companion called Clonazepam, and there are never enough of those anti-anxiety pills to go around. Sertraline are small pinkish pills that you barely notice going down when you chase it with a cold beer or a draught of Russian vodka. They’re supposed to cure The Sadness, but everyone knows they don’t. At least, I know they don’t. No pills ever address the real sickness.

I’ve had The Demon for years. It’s something deep and dark and wicked and miserable. It lives deep inside and usually I can keep it down there without any problem. When I drink a lot it comes out like a Chinese dragon, angry and vengeful. Even then I can usually keep The Demon at bay. If you’ve ever suffered from depression you know it’s The Demon inside that you simply live with, cope with, suffer with and secretly love. You keep it watered and fed and it usually leaves you alone until you need to channel it.

It’s a vile companion that just is. It infests us creative, artistic types. The blessing of beauty that we can give, understand and appreciate always comes at a price, doesn’t it? The Demon exacts that price in mental anguish and torment fortnightly. We like to pretend that it doesn’t affect us and that we can keep it down like the bile that rises in the back of out throat when we take a shot of hard whiskey. Our mouth sweats and our stomach heaves in agony, but we can swallow hard and hold back the vomit.

Until something bad happens.

I cry sometimes when I run in the mornings, seemingly unprovoked. I jog, in the darkness, alone, listening to music. When I try to sing along sometimes my throat closes and tears jump into my eyes. I hyperventilate and get out of breath. My vision narrows and my palms sweat.

The doctor said these were anxiety attacks, except I’m not really anxious about anything. I know its The Demon, come back.

I fight back the tears, stop singing to myself and run on. The Demon quiets and I can keep going.

It had been years since I’d seen The Demon, but then a friend of mine took a .44 magnum and put it to his temple and blew his brains out and The Demon inside me woke up again and started fucking with me.

I was so happy for so long. I was able to put my nose down into my work, ignore my own inner turmoil and focus on my family and friends. I held them all close and glided through the days in a booze induced haze that kept my internal self blissfully numb. Nothing could touch me emotionally. I had this force field around me that kept sadness out and The Demon quiet.

When Greg killed himself The Demon woke up again and I haven’t been able to figure out how to make it silent again.

I am alone tonight. My family is away for two days. I listened to familiar music and drank Maker’s Mark whiskey straight from the bottle because it tastes good and I hate my liver almost as much as I hate myself.

It was only a matter of time, but finally, I cried for almost an hour before I could get myself under control.

I went to the doctor a few weeks ago. I told the nurse I was there for a referral. When the doctor came in he asked why I had back pain. I looked at him quizzically and said I didn’t have back pain. Accusingly, he said that’s what the nurse said.

He thinks I’m here to score pain pills.

Come to think of it, I could have used some pain pills, but I was being honest. I told him I didn’t have back pain, but that I was depressed, I had suffered from depression before, and I would like to talk to someone about it because someone close to me had just succumbed to his own Demon and it was affecting me. His demeanor immediately changed. He softened visibly and became a “friend”. At least, as much as he could be considering that we’d met moments ago.

He said he would prescribe me some medications, and give me referrals to some local psychiatrists. I left thinking it might actually work.

Turns out, my insurance doesn’t cover that sort of thing.

They will, however pay for drugs.

I felt The Demon chuckle inside, just a little.

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