Side Effects Include by Anonymous

One day it all seems a little brighter, shoulders a little lighter, head a little higher. Was it the rain overnight, the smell of worms and new growth, the full night of sleep, the bubble bath, kisses goodnight, sleeping safe in the arms of my love?
Or the enforced rest, the blanket, the quiet, meditation, yoga, acupuncture? The slow walk, the fresh air? Maybe the tea for calming, the smoothie for inflammation?
Or perhaps the two small pills swallowed in one gulp? Or the new one at bedtime, for the pain?
What’s this? A lightness and strange feeling of not fully feeling? The tiny miracle pill, is this something like the old me? Side effects include energy, excitement, the gift of a glimpse of the former you.
The sky’s the limit! Driving, windows down, excited, so much energy, unregulated… the gift that keeps on giving! Fast, too fast, skidding, won’t stop, can’t stop, thoughts spinning, spiraling! Hide it, keep going, only one more hour, stay with me. The pull, dragged along in a tidal wave, out of control! Fear, anger, sadness crashing in, so alone, sobbing, where is my love? Why am I here? Can I please just disappear?
Side effects include racing thoughts, grand ideas, mania, wishes for the end of me. Side effects include fights, welts, handprint bruises, broken trust, broken hearts. Unseen, unknown, deeply alone.
Stop this one, doctor’s orders. Nausea, headache, chills, sweats, tears, fears. Withdrawal. Will this ever end?
And what now, if not that? Burning skin, freezing to the core, pins and needles everywhere, throbbing, shaking, too much noise, too much touch, too much everything. Don’t speak, you’ll fall apart, or perhaps rip apart, for who is this inside? Side effects include pain, exhaustion, frustration, anger, sadness, desperation, loneliness.
Trying to hide the sadness behind sunglasses and headphones and blankets. Just make it to bedtime, just a little longer. One more step. One more question. Smile more, speak softer, hold it in, head up. Every moment chipping away at the thin coat of paint keeping it all from rupturing, erupting, collapsing, dissolving into hopeless despair.
Hold me, even when prickly. Help me, even when quiet. See me, even when I hide. Find me, deep down inside.
For one day it will all seem a little brighter, shoulders a little lighter, head a little higher. But will I be safe in the arms of my love?



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Mad in America hosts blogs by a diverse group of writers. These posts are designed to serve as a public forum for a discussion—broadly speaking—of psychiatry and its treatments. The opinions expressed are the writers’ own.


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