Just after midnight, I heard a noise: a subtle noise, a scratchy noise, a non-threatening, but irritating sorta noise. Of course, had said noise been harsher — if I had heard a bang, a thud, or even shattering glass — I probably would have stayed put, firmly planted in my bed. But since I was already up, and the rest of the house was silent, I decided to investigate on my own.
I pulled the blanket down, pushed the covers aside, and slid out of bed.
The good news was, the culprit was quickly identified: it was my cat. My stupid, “Wait, were you trying to sleep?” cat. But the bad news was that now I was up — like up, up. The clock was flashing, my mind was racing, and my body was shaking. Not from fear or exhaustion, but from anger. From anxiety. From the sheer sense of overwhelm.
Because midnight is the time when my mind races.
It is the time when my anxiety flares up.
You know, you really messed up today. You shouldn’t have yelled at your daughter. She needed you. She needed your support, and you hurt her. You silenced her. You shut her down.
You shouldn’t have snapped at your husband, either. He loves you. God knows why he loves you? Wait, does he still love you?
And why didn’t you clean up yet, or put your clothes away yet? Why didn’t you submit that article? Oh wait, because you’re a slacker. You’re lazy. You’re pathetic. This is why no one likes you.
NO ONE likes you. You should run away. You should go. You should leave.
Of course, this isn’t anything new. In fact, it’s how most of my days end. When I’m alone in the darkness and silence, I am forced to face the other side of myself; and the person I face is harsh. She is cold and callous, and she is unforgiving. She points out all my mistakes, my faults, and flaws. But I cannot indulge her tonight.
I have work in the morning, I have to care for my child in the morning, and I need some sleep. God, how I need some sleep.
So I make my way into the kitchen and fumble through the cabinets until I find a glass and some Xanax. My bottle of Xanax. I take a pill; I take a long, deep breath; and I head back to bed hoping for calm. Hoping for silence. Hoping for a few good hours of sleep.
Of course, I know what you may be thinking: Xanax? Don’t you know that is highly addictive? I mean, what sort of mother are you? An addict? A pill-popper or are just a bad mom? A shitty “I can’t cope with my feelings” sorta mom?
Well, I do know the dangers. I’m not an addict, or a bad mom, and I don’t take Xanax to hide from my feelings, or even to numb them. And I do not “pop pills” so I can tune out, zonk out, or zone of life. Instead, I take medication — prescribed medication — to help me be a better person, a better woman, and a better mom.
And yes, Wellbutrin and Xanax make me a better mom.
You see, when I am “off my meds” I am unbalanced (at best). I am a ball of angst and anger. Of sadness and hopelessness. Or I am snippy and short-tempered. I am either too emotional or completely void of it — I am absent and numb and absolutely no fun to be around. But medication keeps me in check. It keeps my emotions level. And it helps me focus and function.
It allows me to play with my daughter and actually be present with her. It gives me the chance to enjoy every little moment and appreciate — fully appreciate — the ball of energy and joy that my little girl really is. And medication keeps me from raging, i.e. I don’t lose my temper when plans change or the day changes, I don’t cry when my daughter cries, and I can actually see outside of myself.
I can see a life outside of my own mind.
I can smell flowers and feel the cool, summer breeze. I can hear laughter, and birds chirping, and every one of my daughter’s words. And I can see in color. Life is more in color.
And not only do I deserve that, but my daughter deserves that — she deserves a sane mom. A healthy mom. A present mom. A mom who she can talk to and lean on.
She deserves a mom who can (and will) give her her all.
And because of medication — because of my psychiatric medication — I can be “that mom.” I can be all that and more.