You’ve probably seen a variation of this quote somewhere: Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a battle you know nothing about. I have to remind myself of this every once in a while, usually on the bus when someone pushes past me to the exit. But I’ve also had plenty of bad days when all I needed was someone to treat me well to restore my faith in humanity.
Several months ago I had one of those days. See, I can be really scatterbrained about the very thing that keeps my brain from scattering: my medication. I’ve been the victim of my own poor planning a few times over the years, running out of medication and going through withdrawal symptoms before I can finally get my prescription filled.
My psychiatrist and I had talked about me switching medications, and she advised me to start tapering my doses myself by breaking pills in half and slowly working my way down from three a day. I still had so many pills whenever I got a “your refill is ready” message from the pharmacy that I never went in to pick those refills up—and once my prescription expired, I couldn’t just go in and get all of those refills at once.
But I didn’t know that. Shaking due to withdrawal from a couple of days without my meds, I clumsily explained my situation to the pharmacy tech, who said he couldn’t give me anything on an expired prescription.
No, I thought, panicking. I have to take my medication. I practically demanded that the pharmacist come speak with me, sure she’d understand my plight. Again, I explained, still twitching.
“I’m already experiencing withdrawal symptoms,” I told her. “I can’t not have my medication.”
“All I can do is call your doctor right away tomorrow,” she told me. She wasn’t kind, and in some ways I don’t blame her. I stood before her, telling her how to do her job, blaming her, not taking ownership of my mistake.
I stepped away to call my psychiatrist, and left a message through desperate sobs, begging her to call the pharmacy right away. I’m not sure she was even able to understand me—she never did call me back. Once I realized there was nothing left for me to do, I started to walk home, passing through a park, crying the whole way. The whole way. I was walking so slowly a man passed me.
“Hello!” he said happily.
I tried to say hi but it came out in a whisper so small he couldn’t hear me.
The man flipped his hand and said sarcastically, “Or not.”
I found my voice and called out, “I said hi. I’m just crying.”
He took a few more steps before turning around and walking back toward me.
“Are you okay?” he asked.
“Yeah,” I choked out. I decided to be honest. “I just really need my medication.”
“Oh,” he said. “I’ve been there. I get depressed and I have panic attacks. I cry a lot!” He walked with me until I turned toward my street.
“Take care,” he said. “Eat some amazing food!”
We tend to keep our struggles to ourselves, assuming no one could possibly understand, or that they’ll judge us for being weak. Let it out—you may be surprised to realize you’re not the only one who’s fighting a secret battle.
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