Kristen Bryant-Close Up Pills On Notebook

Sertraline, 100mg, Observed. --A Poem


The oblong shape is the first thing I notice. It’s shaped like an oval, about 5mm in length, maybe 2 in width, 1 in height. There is a ridge along the seams, where the imprint was pressed into the pill. One side features two sections: one with an I, one with a G. The other side features the number 213. I don’t know what these mean. 

The color is difficult to describe, because it occurs nowhere in nature. It’s a blue, but it’s a pale gray/blue that seems off putting. If you look at it in the cold, overcast lighting from outside my window, it seems lifeless. A blue, but not blue like the sky or like the ocean. A blue that is murky, pale, and reminds me of the disease it is meant to treat. Even looked at in the warm, candle-lit glow of my cozy, bohemian bedroom, this pale little pill gives off an aura that it doesn’t belong in such a warm, yellow-toned room. It’s unnatural. 

It’s minisculinity is shocking, considering its impact. 



The pill sits on my desk, motionless and noiseless. I suppose if my 180-pill supply went tumbling across the tiles in my bathroom, that would make a noise, but I don’t see that happening anytime soon. Sometimes I drop a pill then I have to race to get it before my cat does. Even then, it doesn’t make a noise on the carpet of my bedroom. I can shake the pill bottle and hear the rattling of hundreds of tiny little molecules of joy. This noise brings me mixed emotions. 



    The taste is something less than desired, although it almost tastes like nothing at all. There is a powdery film to it that sits on my tongue after I lick it. I can’t imagine how my stomach acid must feel destroying this every morning. Must get kinda sickening for my tongue to taste this same unnatural flavoring that accompanies these little guys. It almost tastes like cornstarch. 



It’s interesting, because the pill doesn’t have a smell. It actually smells like nothing. There genuinely isn’t even a trace of scent for this absurdly insignificantly sized commodity, that has taken such a large role in my life. 



It’s hard. Harder than the capsules of probiotics I take every morning. Harder than the other pills in my pill daily container. It’s somehow still soft, though. I could crush it with enough force. I’m not sure I could break it though…  I think that says something. The fact that a pill cannot be broken but can be crushed. It feels like it is metaphorical for its usage. It’s either going to go super well, making you whole again, or you will be crushed. Utterly unfixable. But I suppose if you take those crushed little bits of yourself and put them in a smoothie, you’d still be crushed but at least you’d still be useful. Being crushed doesn’t mean the end, it only means that you have to find new ways to deal with how you are in that moment. Tomorrow, you get the joy of starting out whole again, just to see what happens to you during the course of that day and how you can adapt. I hope I am not crushed today. It’s a lot of effort to make a smoothie. 

    The pill is smooth, pardon its engravings. It feels like it’s been pressed into shape. Like, the manufacturers who manufacture happiness and stability took those things, crushed them, and forced them into a compressor to form this object that I can take to try to have those things. I don’t know how they found them, but I certainly couldn’t have found them on my own. 

    The physicality of the pill on my tongue is odd. It’s so small in my hand, but it feels enormous in my mouth. It’s like when you’re younger and you lose a tooth. That wiggling tooth in the front bottom of your mouth feels so large when you are pushing it back and forth with your tongue. It’s like it takes up so much space in your mouth. The day that you wiggle it so much that it pops out into your hand with a little dash of blood and you see… it really wasn’t all that big after all. The weight of this pill on my tongue each morning feels massive. I wonder why I even have to take this stupid thing, why my brain chemicals can’t just function as they are supposed to. Why can’t I not have intrusive thoughts and flashbacks and panic attacks where I can’t think or function and damn-near constant worry about everything from my actions to the state of the world to the past, present, future to racing, unstoppable, rampant thoughts of whatever is consuming my very being in that moment and these constant fears that remind me randomly in the grocery store that I am going to die and people are dying right now and someone could kill me standing in the frozen veggie aisle and why can’t I just GET AWAY from it most days, even with the pill? -- But then. There are moments. Moments where I don’t feel like I have to fight or flight. Moments where I know there are bad things happening, but right now in Walmart, in the frozen veggie aisle, I can’t do anything to fight them. All I can do is buy my peas. Moments where I know if someone had broken into my apartment prior to me coming home, my four roommates and cat probably would’ve noticed before they got to my room, so it’s safe to put my ice cream away in my minifridge. The weight of the pill on my tongue every morning is the weight that I swallow to have moments of clarity. Moments of reason. Moments that I can breathe. I hope I have more of those moments. I hope that weight can travel into my stomach, where it will disintegrate, and the molecules will disperse, and invade my bloodstream. From there, it will enter my brain, and the physical feeling of that weight will also be alleviated. I won’t feel so heavy. By taking on this tiny, very heavy, weight, I can let go of the oppressive cloud above me, and I can, maybe, have a moment to breathe.