Here Comes the Rain

Day four of withdrawal from Modafinil, a “wakefulness promoting agent” prescribed primarily for people with sleep apnea, and those who work night shifts- i.e., anyone struggling to stay awake. Also prescribed off-label for people struggling with ADHD, and used totally unprescribed by those seeking a cognitive enhancer. I abused the drug for its stimulant-like effects. 

As with every substance I’ve ever abused, I recognized the extent to which my abuse was starting to become unsustainable and abruptly stopped, discarding what was left. As with every time I abruptly halt a substance of abuse, I quickly spiraled into deep depression marked by suicidal ideation. The only real hope I could feel came from the knowledge that the chemical washout would end sooner or later, and that I’d feel at least a little bit better, if not entirely out of the woods. In a moment of weakness, desperate to feel some semblance of relief, I chugged a beer (8.5% ABV, enough to smooth out the anxiety and darkness) and chugged a few shots’ worth of vodka, followed by a few shots’ worth of rum. Desperate times, etc. etc.

All of this at my parents’ house, the place where I grew up. I’m usually strategic about these moments and keep my distance from my parents after I’ve been drinking, lest they smell the alcohol on my breath. Even with their (semi-geriatric) reduced olfactory senses, I can’t be too cautious. Would hate to be caught. Getting found out is an addict’s nightmare, almost as frightening as getting sober, and keeping the problem hidden can be quite the rush. 

My dad called me into the kitchen, so I panicked. I entered the room, keeping a safe distance, to find him hunched over the counter, a small screwdriver in one hand, a battery-powered Sesame Street toy “record” player in the other. He had just purchased the device at Target to replace its identical predecessor, which his overweight Golden Retriever had destroyed in an attempt to barter plastic for a treat.

My dad unpackaged the record player to find the battery didn’t work and endeavored to unhouse and replace the battery, but the battery was thoroughly child-proofed and sealed beneath a plastic cover fastened shut by a small screw. Arthritis has calcified my dad’s already-clumsy fingers, and he was unable to unfasten the plastic cover on his own. So he called me in, and there I found him, anxiety-ridden, head hung over the device, lamenting the fact that he’d have to go back to Target to return it. I couldn’t unscrew it either, and our combined efforts stripped the screw, rendering the battery forever inaccessible. 

I tried to see the silver lining, but the Modafinil-induced depression made that rather challenging. The faint alcohol buzz gave me a flicker of hope that maybe I could turn the moment into a worthwhile story of some kind, a valuable parable or, at the very least, a funny anecdote. I sat down to recount the experience, but the buzz started to fade. I began to backslide into a familiar darkness, only now it was darker than before. 

“Here comes the rain,” my dad said, as he organized the plastic for its return to Target. Sooner or later, it’ll all be in a landfill. That little plastic toy record player will outlive both me and my father, for sure. But at least it’s raining. We’ve been in a drought for most of the summer. At least it’s fucking raining. 

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