Growing up, I always refused painkillers. I don’t know why – maybe I thought they were a sign of weakness. I don’t know. I just know that I routinely turned them down, even when I was in a lot of pain.
But somehow, when I was fifteen, I came home from one more shitty day of high school – part of being a teenager, right? – and declared to my mother, “I have a headache.”
“Tylenol’s in the cabinet,” she responded absentmindedly. I hesitated, but went and grabbed the bottle, read the directions and popped two for my nonexistent headache.
The next day, I arrived home and noticed that the bottle was still in my room. “What the hell,” I thought, and took two more. It wasn’t a big deal. Really.
Over the course of the next few weeks, this became part of my routine. I worked my way up from two pills to four, six, eight, sixteen – always in increments of two, because I’m anal retentive like that. My parents had purchased a bottle of 500 at the local wholesale club and never noticed a thing.
Then one day, I downed 36 in one shot and took a nap.
I didn’t wake up for two days.
After that, I stopped taking Tylenol. I don’t believe I even looked at another one for five years, and only because I thought my uterus was going to fall out from how bad it hurt.
I can’t even explain to you why I did it. It’s not like I felt good from it. I never thought “time to get high!” I just did it and it seemed normal to me.
I didn’t even recognize I’d had a problem until over ten years later…