Pills

poetry by Jesse Rice-Evans

Pills

     1.   duloxetine

I go from 30mg to 60mg—I bloom and run outside into the rain—to 90mg—I can do anything—to 120mg and finally I stabilize. I start to take so many other meds that I forget about these

 

     2.   gabapentin

I barely remember what these are for; something about neuropathic pain—which sounds to me like “fake pain,” because if something exists only in the brain, it isn’t “real” in the sense that it is intangible, like “love,” like “pain.” 

 

     3.   clonazepam

This one: self-explanatory.

 

     4.   cyclobenzaprine

For 3 months, I avoid these. 

 

I am prescribed up to three a day “as needed,” 

but I grow groggy to the point where my eyes cross, the world blurs.

 

When I take them at night, I thrash 

in nightmares 

 

     5.   lion’s mane

nootropic—it is for my brain
for when everything         trickles              away

 

     6.   propranolol 

I am supposed to anticipate triggers: 

things I know will send me spiraling, 

negotiate male aggression before 

I even show up. I learn to expect this 

all the time, and the jittery goal of 

beta blockers empties weekly. 

 

     7.   brahmi

This is recommended by my acupuncturist after I tell her I am taking a tincture made by her friend, a punk herbalist. It “eases the fuzz” behind my eyes, the thrum of hearing my spine crinkle as I climb the stairs, when words blur into something illegible, the books I am required to study matter less and less. 

 

     8.   tramadol

I learn to take these irregularly, for mild, controllable, pain: how can I read pain as tolerable, negotiable? When I know it is endless, timeless, infinite? Languageless? 

 

     9.   Tylenol PM

I can’t sleep at all. 

 

My crip PhD-student friend takes 3 ibuprofen PM 

at 8pm to sleep a full 8 hours, nomadic between 

their cushy couch and their expansive king bed; 

 

I try two one night, three the next. 

My brain turns off; I sleep until 12:30 the next afternoon. 

 

I feel invincible until I don’t. 

 

     10.   l-theanine

stress eats away at soft tissue

 

     11.   oxycodone

This one is prescribed in an emergency: I am desperate at the pain doctor. 

 

They want scans: x-rays, MRI w/o contrast—I am allergic to iodine.

 

That’s fine, that’s valuable, that’s covered by my state employee insurance; 

I am unable to stand any more of feeling knifed between my ribs, 

how when my bodyworker slides her fingers under my top two ribs 

and bow them back into their hull, 

                                                            I gasp for air like I’ve been punctured. 

 

     12.   lorazepam

When my partner’s dad dies, he leaves behind a half dozen bottles half-empty of Ativan, the benzodiazepine I was prescribed and sold for $3 a pill to pay for food in undergrad. This time, my anxiety is worse. I pocket several dozen

 

     13.   diphenhydramine

This one takes me down, as if I am a submarine from conscious to unconscious, sluggish insomniac hauntings, how I haunt the pullout couch like a spirit.

For my PhD Advisor, Who Said, in Response to Me Disclosing my Mood Disorders and Mental Health Disabilities, That He “Doesn’t Like Feelings”

poetry by Jesse Rice-Evans

For my PhD Advisor, Who Said, in Response to Me Disclosing my Mood Disorders and Mental Health Disabilities, That He “Doesn’t Like Feelings”

Remember today, I tell myself

 

Remember how you had to hold yourself together and what a good job you did how you just grabbed the handle of your cane a little harder and chewed the inside of your cheek 

 

How you can handle anything like you always have I knew you could, I know how, after the stranger screamed “can you even walk!” at you on the single-file escalator at Herald Square, you wait until he is gone to fall apart, how after he saw your cane he reached towards you to apologize and you unleashed a wordless scream while tears stream down your face

 

Remember that your advisor said, “well, we’re all disabled when you think about it” and that you kept quiet, undaunted and unquavering

 

Remember that you are not allowed to cry even though you mourn constantly, mourning is something beyond a “feeling,” an embodiment of grief as one that is seeped into your skin and beneath it

 

Remember how you grieve constantly and still work, appear places you are expected to appear, pinch pill after pill between your lips to stave off pain, panic, the stuff everyone says, well-meaning, you guess, but undeniably horrible

 

Remember that you carry this burden, that you appear often as a burden, that burdensomeness is what you fear, what you know others consider before they reach out to you, or rather, do not reach out to you


Remember that you have earned what you have and likely much more and that when your advisor says, “my students with accommodations are so annoying,” that he means it but your needs are not to the point of being annoying or not yet anyway

by Hanna Pavlova.png

Jesse Rice-Evans

Jesse Rice-Evans (she/her/hers) is a white neuroqueer femme and Southern poet based in NYC (unceded Lenape territory) studying femme rhetoric. Read her work in Hematopoiesis, Peach Mag, glittermob, and Nat. Brut, among others, and in her debut collection, The Uninhabitable (2019), from Sibling Rivalry Press. (photo by Hanna Pavlova)