Bud's vision is blurred.
No it's not.
The trees were in focus. Bud can read the license plates of the passing cars. In the distance he sees the turrets of Washington University's administration building.
At the corner
of Skinker and Forsythe a woman in red sweats waits with her leashed Dalmatian.
Bud notices her long brown curly her and hair light skin complexion. She
is tall. Probably five ten, five eleven. He thinks she's pretty, but the
dog interests him more. The light changes at the intersection.
Bud is not sure if he's driving straight.
No his vision is not blurred.
This is something else. A haze encroaching on his perception - growing more intense each day. Mumbo jumbo.
Even sitting Bud's world is out of balance. It was an unfamiliar malaise, he failed to relate this to his doctor the previous day.
Cars speeding by in the opposite direction invade his personal space. Restless and dizzy, didn't quite describe the present moment, but not normal, he confirms to himself.
He tries to weigh options, but has trouble focusing because of the oncoming traffic. A brief glance in his rear view mirror confirms his fear of an endless stream of cars passing on his right. More obstacles for him to crash into. He continues toward work, still a mile away.
Bud is white water rafting and his only hope is a deep pool where he can pull his raft over. He makes a mental note to call his doctor as soon as possible.
Would that be too late? He supposes it's his own fault for not communicating clearly with his psychiatrist. "I don't think this medication is working. I feel odd."
That was a concise description of what he was feeling. The doctor had asked if he was having thoughts of killing himself. Bud, who wasn't thinking of that at the time, answered no. He asked if Bud thought he could make it to his next appointment in just over two weeks where they might try something else. And Bud desiring to be helpful and self sufficient answered yes.
Damn! Bud's thinking, he really handled that call poorly. Next time he calls he'll beg to be taking this fucking anti-psychotic.
Please, I can't take this any more. Things are getting worse. Now I can't even hide in my room without… .
Had he told his doctor he wasn't depressed? He had said he was bored, disinterested, unable to read or focus or watch T.V . He couldn't concentrate at work or anywhere else for that matter. He had no desire to eat, go out in public, to be with people or be alone. He had explained how he felt out of touch with his body and he was emotionally dead, but also how the littlest of inconvenience was insurmountable… .
But no, he wasn't depressed. After all his life was great, he wasn't starving, he was doing what he wanted. No, he didn't have low self esteem. He likes himself. He likes his friends and family. He likes what he wrote and the art he made. He lived in a big beautiful house. Never went hungry. His parents lavished him with brownies and good advice. There were no conflicts with his siblings. They all got along. He liked the hand he'd been dealt. No, he couldn't be depressed.
Damn Bud's thinking, he fucked that one up too. Not that its a big surprise. He had gone through depression before. He could admit that. "Yes, I've been depressed before, but I don't feel depressed now."
Maybe he felt to admit that he was depressed might lead to killing himself. Three years before during a stint living with his parents after moving back from Washington DC he promised himself he'd never let himself go through depression like that again. He would get help and if that didn't work… . No more waiting it out. No, he wouldn't do that again.
Up until this moment, bud had no desire to die. He had been convinced whatever was inflicting his mental state would clear up shortly and he could continue along in jolly little life.
He was depressed and had no idea what now to do. This was troublesome and he knew he should act quickly.
He decides to stop taking his medication tonight and call his doctor in the morning.
He knows you're never suppose to stop taking your medication without informing the physician. He also pretty sure that tomorrow when he gets the nerve up to call the doctor for the fourth time in the past two weeks, he might not be able to convince him of his dire situation. Bud grew up thinking one's composure and character were interconnected. You don't show weakness. You don't burden others with your problems. You don't make a scene. You never grovel.
Accept no handouts.
None of which he'd been that successful at recently. But he would be composed by the time of the phone call to his doctor tomorrow morning.
"I'm sorry to bother you again but I would really prefer to stop taking this medication. I'm beginning to feel depressed. And I think it is messing with my sense of balance." Tying to be honest Bud would also confide that he was having trouble driving his car.
Bud doesn't make his next appointment, he's been Institutionalized. Now here's a place I'd thought I never see, he thinks. It's a lot like prison, but a lot cleaner and the help's more friendly... oh yeah also, the State doesn't pay for it.
He signs a bunch of forms. He eats the soft food. He looks out the window. He smokes cigarettes. He avoids the therapist who keeps asking him to play self realization games.
They run many tests. They Discuss different options. There they give him new medications.. They have him promise he won't kill himself. They release him.
A month later Bud looks down at his gut. It's new. He's gained twenty pounds and it's not his mother's cooking.
Damn, he thinks, not even married yet, but he is feeling better, so what if he gets fat.
He gets on the internet and does a search for information about possible side effects of his current medication. He reads a description of the large green and white capsules he was at that moment digesting.
It an generic drug. One of the few anti depression medications that was actually affordable. On the down side it wasn't what you call "cutting edge of drug therapy." He goes further and reads something his new doctor had already told him, "possible weight gain… ."
He reads that another side effect was constipation, which answered his most pressing question.
A few more months go by while Bud's doctor tries new drugs, geared at treating his anxiety and depression. Some cost hundreds a month. Others seem to have no effect. These visits take place weekly - the doctor continually prodding and poking at Bud's psyche. Bud feels like a guinea pig. A guinea pig whois no longer depressed. Whose life is beginning to return to normal. He is thankful. He is a new believer in drug therapy.
He gets a job painting houses. He hangs out with friends again. He starts writing poetry. He feels great. The doctors will be proud of him. Another success to put under their caps. With the proper management, Bud could live a normal and productive life.
A model patient.
Bud feels like breaking out into song and dance. Though he's inept at both. The stress is gone. The pangs of fear seem like distant memories - possibly not even his?
Between painting houses, writing, and working on his artwork, Bud begins a new project. A house.
He once wanted to be an architect, but for some reason when he got to the university he chose Economics (which lasted for a semester). Bud's brother Bryan was planning to build his dream house in the country. And the two brothers embarked on designing a dream house. The following summer his brother would start building and Bud would come down and help in the fall. Life was great.
It really was.
But Bud has a little secret.
Something he can't tell anyone about. He can't because then it wouldn't be his little secret. Others wouldn't understand. As they rightly shouldn't, Bud reasons.
Over the years Bud's episodes of depression had taken on a mythological persona. Struggling with his demons became an ongoing narrative. Clad in armor alongside the warriors Achilles and Patroclus, Bud courageously fights the Trojans, in a battles waged for love… or was it beauty.
Depression was something he just has to accept and fight. Throughout the years he had acquired all sorts of weapons. Positive thinking, conflict management avoidance, denial, seclusion, and now medication. But the most powerful weapon he has in his arsenal was hidden in the rear of the drawer by hisbathroom sink. This is his weapon of last resort.
A victorious warrior grown wary over time.
In a state of depression, hidden in a fortress beneath the earth, he made a promise to the gods. He won't let himself fight that battle again. He would seek help, proper medical treatment and counseling, and if that failed he find his own more lasting solution.
He remembers how he searched his parents' house for a handgun and then how he had considered carbon monoxide asphyxiation in their garage. All the while his conscience nagging at him, this would be to cruel, I can't do it here.
He doesn't want to hurt anyone. He wants the pain to stop. No need to cause others pain. In his fortress he imagies easy ways outs. A aneurysm, a heart attack, or how about a stray bullet… oh the Joy!, but these were just a dream.
Were this fantasies a sign of weakness, a solution to a problem, or were they something else? Bud doesn't know and no one else seems to know either. In a letter to a friend - uninhibited because he knows he'll never send it - he pens a poem.
No, Bud was sure people won't like his secret. His little brown bottle full of pills, more efficient than splattering his brains across the house with the parents' gun. It took less nerve, there was only moderate clean up, the convenience of location and the funeral could be an open casket… but there's no reason to think about what that will be like, he's dead.
One negative aspects of the anti-depressant Bud reads about was overdose. The patients could use the medication, designed to make them feel better, to kill themselves. Isn't that ironic, Bud thinks. He hides his stash in the bathroom.
Bud was supposed to have gotten rid of the unused capsules, "they're gone," Bud tells his doctor.
So Bud has a new secret.
He knows he's done something very wrong, but whenever he thinks of parting with his little green and white pals he remembers the promise he made to himself.
He had sought help. He desires to be well. He is well. He no longer has suicidal thoughts. He takes his medication. He tells the doctor about his moods. But there was no fucking way he would ever let himself get that way again.
He was a man with a plan.
It's Bud's safety blanket.
All will probably agree it is a shitty safety blanket. That's why he can't tell anyone. They'd take it from him, as they rightly should. He also knew it would be cruel to let his friends and family know about his little secret. They will worry. They might even get upset. And Bud doesn't want that. He'll just have to keep this one to himself. Hopefully they will never be needed.