Mental Health

The Social Contribution Complex

Here I am. Almost 33, mother of two children without custody, art maker with one hell of an unorganized, tumultuous, self destructive tendency. Being a thirty something. Settle down time? Find myself? Just keep on trucking? WTF. I’ve not been to school since the ninth grade.

I used to harp on myself for being a barnacle on society. I’m the statistic. I’m the one the GOP complains about. I’m Daniel Desario; James Franco’s character on Freaks and Geeks. A loser. 

But what if I’m not? 21 years ago I was diagnosed with bipolar and spent my entire teenage career on probation. I was a walking time bomb. In my twenties I was on autopilot in a Kamikaze. After having my second child I did some serious trial and error until my doctor I found the perfect psych prescription cocktail and I’ve taken it with the dedication of a toothpick sculptor ever since. 

That’s the thing. What I don’t think anyone really understands. My life right now, is at risk every thirty days. I take pills that have literal killer withdrawals. When my pharmacy has a glitch I’m teetering on an emotional wire. Today, for example… Oh, this is just something that happens without explaination or known reason other than the magic words: side effects. My tongue, and my shoulders to chest, and fingertips.. just roll a numbing sensation through me.

I do take pills to help with the side effects of my psych meds, that also have side effects. I do this. I do it because I came to a point in life where everyone that truly knows and loves me gave me the ultimatum, get help for my illness or lose their support.

I’m an artist. I rarely make money, lately I’ve used my art to barter goods. I’m poor. I don’t have the ability to hold down a job. I need support in one way or another, always emotional.

So many hours I spend wondering if I could hack weening off my meds, what would I be like? As temperamental as before? Out of order? Would I slink into the night, find a needle and pass out in a gutter somewhere? I’ve been there. In the gutter. I’ve been the hitchhiker in the rain at night without a clue as to what direction was home. Chronic bronchitis. Chuck Taylor’s molded to my feet after weeks of never taking them off. Sleeping under a bridge. Endless cups of coffee bought up with nickels and dimes just to be inside some place warm.

People who don’t know all the chapters in my story can’t fathom my illness. I clean up well. I know how to smile. People who think they understand my illness encourage me to kick the psych meds and whole heartedly believe I can navigate my illness intuitively. People think I was born yesterday, for who could be so naive as to go through the shit storm of hassle it is to take a multitude of medication to Just to control an unruly temperament… Just stop being moody. 

Ah, shit… My friends. If only you’d been there. 

I may not be growing a community garden. I may not be organizing food not bombs picnics or discovering cures to disease. But god dammed if I can’t say with confidence that I contribute to society everyday. Morning and night. With each pill I swallow, trust me, I contribute. 

~Sarah Davenport 2015

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3 thoughts on “The Social Contribution Complex

  1. Sylvia Minler says:

    Sarah, thanks for writing this for those of us who don’t understand. Work with your doctor and take the meds you need. I love you and will never forget your 10 year old heart when you stayed with us. Please, NEVER take me off your friendship list.

  2. twilaglockner says:

    I try to think of it like: if I had diabetes or my son had diabetes Noone would look down on us or have an opinion on the medicine we need to take to function in the daily life. They would say “good job” and “way to take care of yourself”. U do contribute to society, just so u know 🙂

  3. Writingofpassage says:

    A very good piece. Your story definitely sounds like a goosebumps kind of tale. Wishing you well. I am looking forward to reading more.

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