The honest truth is that we are self-medicating with drugs and booze. At social events, the beer and wine flow down the food chain, passing from professors with generous bottles in reusable totes to students with too-soon-empty plastic solo cups. At our desks, we slouch from the weight of articles and essays and theses and everything else in paperwork format hung around our necks and strapped to our chests. Even the best of us the ones who manage to shy away from the distractions, snort adderall in the bathroom and smoke reefer rolls when no one can see us. I told myself I wouldn’t become one of them. Yet, as I swallow my white pill for the day, I can’t feel the disappointment.
I started with citalopram, an antidepressant. The doctor asked me if I was depressed. But doc, I replied, My chest hurts. My heart is straining through a sieve and I sleep restless. That’s what I want you to treat, not these momentary moments of weakness. They come and go. I’m distracted, unable to work. I read and read and read and read until I’ve read nothing at all. I am mumbling excuses and conditions. I can’t tell how I feel. Is this me? I’m so worked up, my stomach is in knots. I can’t come back here. I’ve said too much.
As I am overthinking, I realized that I can’t stop. If I want to stay competitive in the sea of graduates, I need to be focused and quick. There are conferences and publications, theses and classes, teaching and volunteering. Everything needs to get done. No wonder why anxiety is inherent to millenials. It’s built into the bricks that cage us.
But as the pill digests in my stomach, I don’t feel it. At least, not like before. Anxiety still eats at me but spits out my worries. I’m a half-chewed wad of gum but still stuck together in baby blue goop. And that’s okay, right? We all go through it, right? It’s not just me? I’m not just an imposter, running away from the inevitable discovery. I deserve to be here, even if I have watched every other piece of me wither and wilt in the harsh academic sun. That small seed of determination is still there. So I’ll roll a joint, do a shot of gin, take my pill, and get to work, because that’s what a dead-beat parent would do.