Where I’ve Been or The Time I Accidentally Took Crazy Pills
My allergies are profound and irritating (just like me).
I am fiercely allergic to cats and dust, so it is great that I live with three felines and am a slob. Furthermore, as I’ve gotten older, I’ve found my allergic sensitivities have increased. As a kid, I was allergic solely to mangoes, bees, and geese (it was a wild party the night we found that one out – suffice to say it was the last magically realistic Keatsian orgy for babies I’LL every be attending as a baby!). But now it’s more surprising when something doesn’t cause my skin to swell, chap, and hive.
There are days sitting at my desk when, apropos of nothing, my lip will quadruple in size. “What’s wrong with your face?” the consistently sensitive and charming folks I work with might ask. To which I answer, “Oh no worries – it’s just some cosmetic injectibles I had done at lunch.” The more sensitive folks might query, “Did you eat something?” with a sneering lift of their own normal-sized labrum, to which I will respond, “No, it’s happened ever since 911″ which is neither true, nor in good taste, but a sure-fire way to get people to GTFO probably forever should you feel so inclined.
For the most part, I overlooked my symptoms. On very, very bad days I’d take a Benadryl and offer up the remaining hours of delight to the dark god Orpheus, like so many before me. When my breathing got really bad, I’d chalk it up to the lung cancer I was surely courting with my gradually-becoming-excessive Marlboro Light (Excuse me “Goooold”) habit. I’d kick the sticks for a little while and take some hits off a surely expired inhaler and when the symptoms cleared, quickly forget about the problem.
It got unmanageable when my scalp began itching. Apparently I draw a hard line where “looking nasty” is concerned, and even though I had spent days with large, red scaly abdominal patches flaking off my corpus and into the mostly-cotton bosom of my sensible Calvin Klein separates, because no one could see it – that was just dandy. But sitting around making eyes at some hot slacker at the neighborhood dive lost all it’s appeal when my purring insistence that I loooooved LCD Sound System was interrupted with feverish passes at my head-meat with my sharpest talon. “Mama never gets no good lovin’,” I murmur at the dead skin collected at my nail beds as the slacker slammed his eighth Pork Slap and made his way over to a less itchy broad wearing the idea of a skirt.
So I came to take a 24-hour allergy pill, Zyrtec, if we are naming names. I have a lot of resentment about taking any pill daily – this comes from being chronically ill – I don’t like the idea of being constrained to a pillbox. I’m a rebel, Dottie. But the results were astounding. No hives, I could burrow my fact into my cat’s fur and came away unscathed (except for the emotional punishment he’d be sure to exact for such an invasion of his personal space.) I could bathe naked in pollen, though thankfully as a not-insane person, this desire was not one I harbored. Most importantly – as I am deeply vain – my skin returned to the normal, undisturbed Victorian pallor that I favor.
There was only one, troubling, flaw in my otherwise perfect allergy-free life: I wanted to step in front of a bus.
Over the span of about a month, my world quietly imploded. I found fault with everything I did – assuming I’d fail if I even tried, so why try? I became deeply paranoid, positive that not only was everyone out to get me, but that they were pissed they HAD to get me because of how hard I sucked. Ah, the sweet, sweet egocentricity of paranoia, delusion, and boundless depression. I cut myself off from my friends, I was a royal bitch. I spent the better part of my free time staring at a wall and making myself breathe. I had been depressed before, but always as a component of my crippling anxiety (I AM A PLEASURE TO KNOW). This depression was nothing like that moribund sense sadness that came from the exhaustion of riding out panic attacks. This depression was something alien and all-consuming. I couldn’t separate it from myself, I couldn’t get perspective.
It didn’t occur to me that it could be my allergy pill. BECAUSE WHY WOULD IT EVER? I take other, more potent drugs, some to manage hormones (see: aforementioned chronic illness) and never had an inkling of a side-effect – how could something I buy for ten bucks next to the herbal sleep-aids make me seriously contemplate the ease with which I could fall onto the train tracks?
It took a completely fluke intended-invention with a dear friend to get to the bottom of it. Said friend had invited me over, ostensibly to “catch up” but in actuality her goal was simple: confront me about my out-of-character inability to concentrate, focus, and my overall bitchery. As we made our way to her apartment, we stopped at a drug store to grab snacks – because emotional interventions require snacks, natch. As we stood waiting to check out she mentioned passing off a bottle of Zyrtec her boyfriend wasn’t able to use my way. She knew I took the pill, because I’d been the one singing its praises to her boyfriend. Curious, I asked why he wouldn’t be needing it. As she began to explain the depression that had hit him and the research he’d done indicating that he wasn’t alone, our eyes locked in a totally “THE CALL IS COMING FROM INSIDE THE HOUSE” moment and I began detoxing a minute and half later.
The difference two full days made was astounding. No longer did I want to punch things and cry, no longer was I trailing off mid sentence, forgetting how to complete a thought without drooling or weeping – I was transformed, back into my hive-covered, mostly-upbeat, never suicidal self. As relieved as I was to see that it was, indeed, the pills making me feel that way, I was haunted by the past month, and ridiculously freaked that a pill that could cause so much upheaval in my life was available to buy with the same ease as buying say, a snickers. I haven’t tried any other allergies pills since, in fact, I’m holding off on it until I talk to a doctor. Like a goddamn grown up.
I recently said to a friend that always carrying an umbrella makes you an adult. I would add that having a cobbler, and a dry cleaner also imply maturity. Not I’ve got to add, a doctor who you trust, and friends willing to intervention you as the truest markers of adulthood. Also groaning when you are forced to stand up. And maybe sacrificing your looks for the sake of your sanity. Temporarily.