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    BWS Stories - "You Keep on Playing Those Mind Games"...Prescription Drugs and Alcohol

    "You Keep on Playing Those Mind Games"...Prescription Drugs and Alcohol - Price for Normal

    Kathryn Magendie is the author of three novels, Virginia Kate, The Unexpected Places and The Affliction of Sweetie, as well as a collection of short stories, and a collection creative non-fiction. She lives in on a mountain in Western North Carolina and enjoys every minute of every mood of every day.

    Price for Normal

    It is so easy to swallow a pill isn’t it? Go to the doctor and tell them your body aches, mind aches, and soul aches to get prescription number 62455. Read the warning label and ignore it. Swallow the lie. Embrace the change. Conform. Conform. Conform.

    I’ve always been moody—up and down again and again. It is rather fun to be me. After an injury I had, my doctor prescribed a pill for nerve pain. It helped the pain, and something else happened, too—the moodiness receded.

    Oh joy! I am free of both the dark clouds and the hippity hoppity activity of an expansive good mood. So what if I forget appointments, if I took my pill on time, or where I put my keys? I do not challenge anyone and do not forget my place in a civilized society. Maybe I babble continuously, but never about anything controversial. I am serene in my complacency. I am a good girl now. Isn’t that great?

    With my brain now safely medicated, I wonder what wires are crossed that were previously uncrossed, or uncrossed that where once crossed. Before the new miracle pill, my neurotransmitters were like drunken football fans screaming and running around after a win. After all that screaming and running around, they’d get tired and sick, and eventually have to lie down and sleep it off. That was before. Now those little neurons are firing off like regimented soldiers; each one knows its place. Boom. Boom. Boom.

    However, there is an errant Beetle Bailey soldier who just doesn’t want to cooperate. Unconcerned, he fires off when he feels like it, if at all. Beetle Bailey urges the old me to peep through once in a while, blinking rapidly in the light and wondering what I have missed. Then the regimented soldiers calm me: “Sleep. Sleep. Go to sleep you naughty girl. Everything is okay now. Pill is in control.”

    Beetle Bailey persistently reminds me of all those inspired, yet tortured, writings I used to vomit out. Drinking glasses of Merlot for mind pain and swallowing a hydrocodone for body pain, I sat at my computer, a Hemingway wannabe. The only Hemingway in me was the alcohol, but it sure was fun. With the miracle oh so wonderful new pill, there’s no more alcohol, hydrocodone, or tortured writing. Instead, each day I pop my new little conforming friend. It is so clever, I don’t even feel it working. I don’t feel like working.

    I sleep hard and deep. Drool covers my pillows, and my dreams have become hazy, distant memories instead of cinematic masterpieces. I have no trouble getting up in the morning. The regimented soldiers blow the bugle call and I suddenly awaken, eyes popping open, and the cycle begins again. I look straight ahead, placing one foot in front of the other. No variation allowed.

    In terror of my former wacky ways, I monitor every bad mood and sleepless night, casting out bad thoughts so as not to jinx my good fortune. After all, I have been given the nectar of peace inside a yellow capsule. How lucky am I? Meanwhile, something is going on inside my brain that I can’t see. I wonder if there will be a war, regimented soldiers against Beetle Bailey. I sit quietly, trying to tune into the goings on inside my skull. It is hard to concentrate with the soldiers firing. Boom. Boom. Boom.

    I imagine the brain as the infinity of the universe, going on and on without end. I imagine someone may become catatonic with thinking about that all day, after day, after day, until years have passed and they have become bedridden. Sad, lonely little former humans gazing upward while their eyeballs go round and round and up and down, imagining all the planets and stars whizzing by them until they find the end. A part of me is there, too. A part of me has gone into a deep sleep, gazing up at infinity. I feel like I am catatonic and inhuman—a sleeping moody monster.

    How many of us have become little Stepford wives, puppets, poseable dollies, and regimented soldiers? Who do you really want to be? Can you tolerate a little wackiness in this world? I don’t want to be like everyone else. When I’m old, I’ll be called eccentric and I’ll get away with it all.

    I quit taking the pills.

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