Saturday, December 13, 2014

The Music Man: Prescription Amphetamines and the Worst Date Ever *trigger warning*

In the Fall of 2009 I was beginning my second year in Graduate school (thesis writing year) and my depression was still getting worse. I'd taken one seminar final paper deferral the Fall before, and three in Winter semester -- yes, that would be all of my courses. I didn't get as much research done over the summer as I'd hoped, even though I worked at it every day. I felt like I was sliding, falling, slowly suffocating. Everything was getting a little too difficult, a little too beyond my capability. Although I begged him to let me try ECT, my psychiatrist was unwilling to consider it as as option for me. I was maxed out on Wellbutrin XL and feeling like there was nowhere to go when my psychiatrist and I made the decision to try augmenting it with Ritalin.

On the face of it, Ritalin was actually the best antidepressant I've ever taken, at least for the first few days. I'd had consistent problems with tiredness, low energy levels, and an inability to concentrate, and Ritalin fixed that right away. I was able to focus on my research, to cut through the fog enveloping my brain and put ideas together, to understand what I was reading. I felt alert and awake, and had the energy to walk from one side of campus to the other, to get through my daily activities of worship and study. I took two doses of Ritalin a day, once in the morning and once in early afternoon, and suddenly I was feeling the way I'd felt when Wellbutrin SR had worked: I was feeling like myself. While I didn't really feel any better mood-wise, I could be productive; I felt I had a shot at maybe living my life the way I wanted to, the way that mattered to me. I believed that my mood would stabilize over time back to baseline if I could keep from destroying my life and my goals and my dreams in the meantime by being able to string words together into sentences.

The Ritalin crash was brutal, though, and ultimately an unmitigated disaster. For some reason I was taking regular Ritalin rather than the sustained-release kind, so it was all dumped into my body at once rather than evenly over time. I was fine while the drug was in there, but when it would wear off at the end of the day with no third dose to take its place, I found myself completely immobilized by exhaustion. I couldn't get up if I wanted to. After thirty to forty-five minutes the effect would be gone, but the initial come-down was crushing. In retrospect, I regret never agreeing to try Adderall, which does come in sustained release-form and has less overall drug interactions, but the times it was offered I still overwhelmingly blamed Ritalin for what had happened to me.

At the same time as my depression was worsening, I was coming to the conclusion that my relationship with MM had run its course, if I was being honest about what I wanted my life to look like long-term. I also, perhaps out of pride, had no desire for someone who hadn't committed to me to see me at my mood-worst, crying all over the place and unable to smile or laugh or take pleasure in my life. Sure, Ritalin promised me I could go on with my daily activities, but it wasn't going to make me into the person I was without Major Depression. It offered me a way to maintain a normal level of activity, but in terms of the depressive low, it seemed like the only way out would be through. So I decided to end it, even though I knew I'd miss him and wasn't sure that we'd still have a friendship after this second time around.

MM picked me up and brought me to his place for our usual date during my first few days on Ritalin. In his car on the way there I told him about what had been happening when it wore off and he remarked that, when he'd taken the drug, he'd experienced the same thing. I felt relieved knowing that someone understood what I was going through.

When we got up to his bedroom, I told him that I didn't want to have sex because I wasn't feeling well, and he said he understood. I'd intended to go home pretty much right away, but he suggested we take a nap, and since the Ritalin was wearing off I thought this might be a good idea anyway. And besides, I'd always liked napping with him because he was a good cuddler.

I got into bed and lay down on my side and he lay down beside me. My limbs were already so heavy that I knew I'd never have made it home anyway: if I hadn't stayed, I'd be sitting on the floor somewhere waiting for the near-paralysis to be over. I'd miscalculated my timing, I suppose. Falling asleep with someone snuggled warmly against my back and wrapped in someone's arms isn't the worst way to spend an early evening, after all.

I was confused at first when he started stroking my belly, but he knew I liked it, and I appreciated that he knew I was feeling bad and wanted me to feel better. I was confused when he pulled down my pants and underwear because I couldn't figure out what he was doing that for. But when I heard him taking off his underwear and realized he'd removed his pants even before getting into bed with me, after I'd said I didn't want to have sex, I felt a cold stab of fear deep in my belly, and I understood.

As much as I tried to move, to kick at him, even to open my mouth and scream, my body didn't do any of those things. I looked at my hand and couldn't will it to move. I felt so violated, and so ashamed. I didn't understand why he was doing what he did, knowing exactly that this isn't how I behave, that this isn't how I act. I couldn't understand why he would destroy our friendship over something as stupid as sex. 

I knew that I would never see him again, and I was so, so sad. I knew that I could never tell people that this had happened, because they would look at me and wonder why I didn't do anything to stop him, how this could happen to me again, what it was that I was doing to bring this on myself. I knew that no one would believe me, and that it wouldn't seem important, when we'd already had sex countless times. I wondered if I'd ever be able to forgive myself for climbing into the bed beside him, for going to his house knowing my drug would be wearing off, for not just telling him we were done over the phone, or over coffee, or any other day of my life but this one.

When he was finished and I was alone, I looked at the ceiling for what seemed like hours, and lost myself. I left knowing we'd never speak again, and it was the worst date ever. 


  1. Remember that nothing that happened that day was your fault. You don't have to forgive yourself, because you did nothing wrong.

  2. I am so sorry that this happened to you, and ths only one to blame is him, for taking advantage of the state you were in knowing full well it wasn't what you wanted.

  3. Im giving you a really big hug and passing over a glass of really good wine. Here is me saying I believe you. You didn't do anything to bring this on. And no matter how many times you'd had sex, this is still rape, still wrong, still his fault not yours and still matters. You could not have known this would happen. You are so much stronger than you give yourself credit. You broke the silence. You are telling your story.

  4. I'm so sorry for the pain you have had to endure as a result of what happened to you.
    When something happens to us, it can be easier to look back at what we could have done differently and to pick ourselves apart rather than to recognize or remind ourselves of where our responsibility ends and another's begins.
    I can only imagine how you would wrestle with decisions made that day, how the event could be perceived by others if they knew, or even when rape can be considered important enough based on the way it occurs (it always is). But you did not choose to have sex that day, regardless of any events leading up to it. While you may not have been in a position to stop it, he was. He made his own choice that day, one that violated your right and freedom of choice, your body, your spirit and your trust. I hope you have or can let go of the guilt and shame that is not yours to bear.

    Always remember that you were created out of love, and no such act could ever diminish your value.

  5. P.S. I admire you so much for opening up about the events of that day. This is not the first time I read something and feel myself rooting for you in a way I can't quite put into words. :)