map Drugs

by Roger D'Agostin

Published in Issue No. 269 ~ October, 2019

My psychiatrist shoots dope. He returns from the bathroom with his shirt sleeves rolled up. I can see where he stuck himself. He should do a better job considering, at some point in his career, he had to have injected patients. Poor patients. First committed to an institution, then subjected to infection and bruises from an incompetent shrink.
He would be better off smoking or sniffing – it’s not as if he’s hurting for the funds – but I don’t mention this. Besides, we’re here to talk about my problems.
It didn’t start this way. First, it was pot. He called it medicinal marijuana. “I’d prescribe it for you, but I know it won’t work. Probably make you more anxious. Paranoid. But paroxetine hydrochloride will calm you down. At least it’s supposed to. But the funny thing is we’re really not sure how these anti-depressants work. You have the SRRI and SSRIs.” He started giggling. Then he gathered himself and began again, but when he said serotonin and dopamine, he cracked up. Hysterical. I knew this wasn’t good.
But I envied his joy. I did, and this happens a lot. The other day I was walking out of Home Depot, and this fat fuck was laughing. It wasn’t cynical snickering, either. I mean, he was jolly. And I thought how the fuck can that guy be happy? For Christ’s sake, he needs to lose about seventy pounds. I can hear him wheezing. But there he is wobbling down the parking lot, sneakers blew out at the sides because he walks like a duck and he’s not just smiling but laughing.
I could go on. I do in my sessions. But it doesn’t help. I leave and think, perhaps it wouldn’t be a bad idea to try this paroxetine thing. Maybe that’s what made that fat guy so happy.
Last year, I had him write me a prescription. That was when he was drinking. I had run out of hope and had this system where I scheduled him depending on how much help I truly wanted. He was most lucid around eleven. His hangover had subsided, and he had just started in on beer. After four he didn’t give a shit. He agreed with everything I said. Sometimes he left for fifteen or twenty minutes to go to the liquor store. And when I really didn’t want his opinion, I scheduled him even later because he never showed.
In the midst of a no show, I took the crumpled script out of my pocket and tossed it in the garbage and thought this whole therapy thing isn’t working and I was destined to be a miserable fuck. I might as well save some money.
But then he actually started calling me to schedule appointments and told me they’re pro bono, and he didn’t shut up until I agreed to see him and three sessions later I realized something certainly has changed because he stinks of booze and has the energy of an ADHD pre-teen. This was the drinking-coke stage. I have to admit those sessions weren’t half bad because I didn’t have to talk and he could really get going. Then he gave up the booze.
He was constantly going to the bathroom. Coffee, he complained. Coffee. But I sniffed his cup when he left, and it was water. Or empty. At least he kicked one habit, I told myself.
He kept telling me the real issue here is that I don’t want to take my medicine. “I can’t do my job if you don’t take medicine. We don’t know if it’s working if you don’t take it.”
This had become his go-to speech. It started when he was in his coke-drinking stage. He could really get going with it. It made me want to take my meds. Really. I would go home and look at that squat white bottle and think, such an unassuming container for happiness. But then the coke habit worsened, and the speeches suffered. I kept my head down and said, “I don’t know.” I couldn’t stand watching him clench his jaw, two tiny hearts pulsing on either side of his face.
But I think the dope habit has turned things around. I don’t know when the transition occurred. It was like one session he’s yelling and pointing and sweating and then the next he’s half asleep. But I think this therapy is finally working. He talks a little, fixes, then listens as I explain to him I really don’t want to ingest these drugs. I don’t know what they’re going to do to me. Drugs are a funny thing I tell him. And he nods and nods and closes his eyes.