By Jennifer Rose
When I used to read stories about people who overdosed on their medications, I never thought it would happen to me. However, just before Christmas, when we usually feel both happy and stressed, my feelings became so intense that I went completely over the edge.
It started out like any typical evening, showering and all. Then, I heard my mom yelling. She had spent most of the day working on the Christmas cards, and my baby sister ruined them by scribbling on the envelopes. Mom lost it, and I lost it even more, bawling my eyes out. Now, I’m a very sensitive person, and it’s not pretty when I cry. In fact, “inelegant blubbering” isn’t too much of an exaggeration. As I was crying, however, Mom lectured me on how I shouldn’t fixate on negative feelings, because I’ll just be upsetting my sister. Her heart was in the right place, but she didn’t realize how overwhelmed I felt.
You see, I had a prescription for an anti-anxiety drug. But now, I was feeling so upset, that I decided to take more of my medication than recommended. I didn’t even realize I was overdosing.
Mom was impressed at how quickly I calmed down. She was even more impressed at how sweet I was to her the following day, especially considering my sister was acting up even more. I don’t remember too much, except that I overslept and was only woken up when my boyfriend called me. In fact, I was feeling incredibly groggy. When my parents noticed my empty medicine bottle, they first thought that I had lost the pills (I can be a bit scatterbrained, and my parents had never dealt with a drug overdose before.) But then my Dad noticed I couldn’t eat anything at dinnertime, because my tongue was so swollen. He then realized something was up, and immediately called poison control. An ambulance came to bring me to the hospital.
My mom had also talked to an ER doctor, who meant well but was somewhat condescending. “Now, autism aside, a 20-year-old should know better than to take so many pills,” she said. Thing was, when I was taking them, I didn’t want to die. I wanted to feel better! Many teens- autistic or otherwise- fail to connect actions with consequences. Furthermore, despite being 20, I’m about 17 mentally (if that), 18 on a good day. And it obviously wasn’t a good day at all!
At the hospital, I was too tired to do anything, except watch TV. (My parents were so nice to me, they let me watch Family Guy, a show they hate.) I had to stay in bed for a few days, since I took enough medications to make my heartbeat irregular. I was hooked up to a device that chelated the “piggyback medications,” as they called it, out of my system. Basically, I did nothing but eat. The hospital food was surprisingly good (I was expecting dog food and motor oil.) Eventually, Dad brought me some books to read for the following semester at college, so I finally had something constructive to do.
However, my final day at the hospital was special. I had sitters taking care of me around the clock, to keep me on watch so I wouldn’t kill myself (I didn’t). The lady who was taking care of me didn’t understand why I took the extra pills, and I explained to her what had happened. I then showed her a book I had published, It’s Not A Perfect World But I’ll Take It. At one point in the book, I discuss having a bad day at school and cheering myself up by making a list of 100 Reasons to be Happy- such as looking at Doctor Who pictures on the web. That’s the chapter that she decided to read.
“Now Jenny, how would your parents have reacted if they lost you?” she asked me.
“They would be devastated?” I said.
“You’re right,” she replied. “Look at how much you have to live for!” She read off the numerous reasons, some of which were silly (such as my idea for a Phineas and Ferb movie) and some which were sweet (such as how much my mom, dad and sister care about me.) However, they all showed that, even in my darkest hours, light was able to shine through. Even though it was my intention to use them to help myself, popping the pills did nothing to help me and just made me sick.
Jennifer is a junior Creative Writing major.