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Creative Nonfiction


Side Effects

Taylor Huxley

8:00am Aviane, 0.5 mg November 2019 I take my birth control every morning at 8:00am. I started taking this pill when I thought I might want to have sex. I wasn’t in a rush to lose my virginity, but there was a boy that I really liked. Curly brown hair, glasses, nerdy. Dream package. He was hesitant to call me his girlfriend. 5-months hesitant and a separation, to be more exact, but I stuck around and it paid off. It was easy getting to know him on a medication that didn’t have any effects except killing and preventing the sperm from entering my eggs. He was able to meet me at my true self when I still recognized the woman in the mirror before the alterations and side effects moved in. 11:00am, 7:00pm FDGuard, 0.75mg March 2020 My twice-a-day stomach medicine makes it so I can eat without being in pain. It has the worst mint aftertaste every time I burp. When I forget to take it, any digestion will flip my stomach upside down and strap me in bed for an hour in agonizing pain. I lost a lot of weight before I found this medicine. Three other prescriptions and a visiting camera down my throat over the course of a year (and plenty of medical bills) finally discovered a solution. During that year, I relearned the practice of an old friend of mine: starvation. With over 40 lbs shed off my body, close friends and even familiar strangers started congratulating me for “looking good” as if being 200 lbs ever changed that. When I got the right medication, I forgot how to eat without the connecting feeling of guilt. Every “good job” and “what’s your secret” uncoiled the love I hand picked out for myself. It fed the hunger of being skinny, collar bones, and dividing my pant size in half. A plague tattooed into my mind, immune to vaccines. Its biggest symptom is tricking me into believing I can never be worthy, never be me with thick thunder thighs and tiger claw stretch marks across my bulbous stomach. 10:30pm Lexapro, 0.5mg April 2020 I take my antidepressant once every night. It was the only solution my doctor figured when I told her I think I have premenstrual depressive disorder. The week before my period was a stage-four nightmare as the shadows rose from the ground and dug their claws into my back. Panic attacks, breakdowns, and numb days in bed would swallow me whole. I missed work, tests, and dates, disappointing my bosses and my professors and myself. Lexapro, the tiny white pill, doesn’t break through the storm clouds, but it makes it manageable like an umbrella against the rage. Instead of explosive emotions, I am met instead with numbness, a black hole, a blank cursor. When I used to go to therapy, I was told to think of my emotions as a house and my depression as my roommate. Well, the side effects of this pill keep shutting my emotions at the door. I can hear them knocking and ringing, but they cannot reach me so I cannot feel them. While preferred to the rage, among the knocking and ringing was the me that I used to see when I looked in the mirror. Now all I see is emptiness right down to its core. The door closed on myself. I was left to only look through who I really am, unable to see the reflection through the crack window. Post-Coital Sulfamethoxazole/Trimethoprim, 0.5mg August 2020 Once I lost my virginity, I quickly developed 11 UTI’s in the span of six months (I wish I was exaggerating). One night, while my boyfriend was out of the room, I developed the strongest pain in my uterus I had ever felt. The boyfriend discovered me curled up on the floor, pushing down at my uterus as if that was helping the pain. My shaking sobs were enough to scare him. He carried me to the car and we rushed to the only Instacare open at 11:00pmin the pouring rain (Pro tip: doctors will always call you back earlier if you’re crying in the lobby). After many bottles of antibiotics for a temporary solution, my doctor finally prescribed me a horse-sized, gritty pill. I choked on it the first time I tried to swallow it, and the grainy white dust that came off on my tongue did not taste good. But it worked like a charm and I wasn’t scared to be with my boyfriend anymore. I wasn’t scared to embrace that side of me. When Needed Self Discovery, 1mg Then, Now, and Forever I am made up of my medications. They change the reflection in my mirror with every new pill bottle and side effect. Prescriptions write over the programming in my body, performing unfamiliar code in uncharted territory. I have stomach issues, PMDD, and a history of UTIs. Without my medication, I am a walking definition of I cannot. I cannot go to school. I cannot go to work and practice my art. I cannot be the loving girlfriend I want to be or the roommate that wants to go to dinner to be with her friends. So while my mirror is distorted and warped from the nightstand drawer of unfinished pill bottles, I order my prescriptions from wherever with a pharmacy drive through and swallow the gritty, disgusting pills. And with every side effect, I will meet myself again.
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