It started with the drugs, probably. I mean, I had been on a roller coaster all my life, but I had never veered off the track and found myself continuing to soar before.
When my roommate and I moved into our first apartment, she fell heavily into the scene. Like a lost puppy, I followed suit, picking up scraps where I could get them.
I smoked, I snorted, I tripped. I drank myself silly almost daily. I became physically and psychologically dependent on adderall.
My grades and attendance in class started slipping. I never did end up finishing any of those classes.
Somehow I held down one of my two jobs for a while, but I showed up high or tweeked out half the time. One day I left with no explanation and never came back.
I was strung out. I shivered constantly. When I sat in class I held pills in my hand under the desk, to run out and swallow if I started to lose my edge.
This is when I started isolating. No one could understand me, I thought. I was beyond help.
I spent hours alone in the computer lab, printing out picture I liked or creating posters with quotes or propaganda that pleased me. I taped these to my bedroom wall in one giant web of my scrambled mind.
I decided to build a social media site. It was special, the best idea ever to occur to this generation. Too bad I didn’t know how to code. Too bad I don’t remember what it was about.
One day I decided to drive 45 minutes to the nearest Barnes and Noble, and surround myself with books. Lofty, intellectual books, books I would normally struggle to get through the introduction. I sat in a chair with a pile of twenty or so books stacked around me, and I read for hours.
I spent a huge chunk of my college fund that day.
Then the paranoia got out of hand. I refused to leave my bedroom because I was sure my roommate was tired of me, looked down on me, both pitied and was disgusted by me at the same time.
One night she ordered Chinese food and then stepped out for a little bit. She asked me to get it if it came before she returned. I slammed the door in the delivery man’s face because I was convinced this was a cruel prank to point out that I did not have the money to pay for the food. I called her, irate. The food was already paid for.
Some friends of her’s borrowed my giant teddy bear. I was sure they were mutilating it to laugh at me, but I was too scared to ask for it back. It came back untouched.
Shadows creeped up at me from the corners of my eyes. I scribbled furiously on paper all over my desk about how I was different, how my roommate was stealing my food and would have to pay, about how I just wanted to be normal.
Then one night my sister sent me an essay she wrote about how much she looked up to me. It said how wonderful I was, how successful, how brave and smart.
How could I be letting her down so badly?
I flew around the room in a panic. Anything, anything to make this turmoil in my brain simmer even to a soft boil.
I swallowed seven xanax. Nothing.
That’s when I reached for the lighter and bobby pin, and things slowed down. I could breathe. I could finally sleep for a little bit.
The next morning I went to my counselor’s office, and I was sent to the emergency room.