1. The strength of an endurance athlete because we have stood in the fire for so long, for months and sometimes years of physical and emotional agony, and have not folded and will not fold.
2. Despair and hopelessness like cocoons of spun glass held on delicate, thin branches inside of us.
3. Water bottles, protein bars, sunglasses for the miles we’ve walked, hiked, run to get happy endorphins into the brain, anything happy into the brain, anything to stave off the tight walls of anxiety and nausea that circle the body like wild dogs.
4. Our children (if we have them), until our muscles go liquid because the message telling the legs to walk or stand has gotten lost and we buckle.
5. Grief, because we are no longer who we were, because we fear sometimes that we’ll never return, because research shows so very few do return.
6. Shame, because of the disbelief of friends, of family. Shame because there is the cut blade of silence and misunderstanding. Shame because we got caught in a deadly trap and somehow we think we should have known, could have known that the little white pills were a Faustian bargain that came with interest.
7. Bottles of muscle relaxants and multivitamins. Bottles of high blood pressure medication for the anxiety, clary sage and lavender oils for the anxiety, blenders for the smoothies because it’s hard to eat when the smooth muscle of the intestines have been told to “hush.” Bottles of sleep medications that operate as pharmaceutical 2″ x 4″‘s for the pharmaceutical 2″ x 4″‘s that have begun to shut the body systems down. Tears for the months, years lost. Tears for the self that has been lost in a dark forest for longer than ever seemed necessary.
8. Fury that there’s so little research on long-term use. Fury that research was shut down like a hatchet in the UK. Fury that no one seems to mind the little pills until they try to get off. And then they mind. They mind because they’re told that they have an autoimmune disease, a neurological disease, Lyme disease, any kind of disease but one caused by the people whom they trusted, the one’s who said “this will help.”
9. A war for the brain that happens by the day, by the minute, by the hour.
10. Determination that they will not win. Determination that we will have our children back, we will have our brain’s back. Determination that we will return to the haven of home that is our lives, unmedicated, unanesthetized, unburdened and we will be stronger for having done it: gone to hell with a headlamp – and come back.