My Name is Aeyaia

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Dr. Lynn diagnoses my depression when I am fourteen years old. "She's been this way for several years now," she tells my parents, who look like porcelain dolls broken, then glued back together—frightened faces once beautiful.

While my parents are the ones sitting in the bucketing psychiatrist's couch, I rock on my heels in the corner of the therapy room, surrounded by bookshelves, titles like The Social Animal and Emotional Intelligence 3.0.

I trace my sneaker in figure eights along the tightly packed carpet.

"I'm writing a prescription for Zoloft and Trazodone," Dr. Lynn says. "One will help with the depression; the other, sleep. They need to be taken the same time every day." She looks at me over the rims of her too-small glasses. "You good with that?"

I don't know why she's asking me. It's my parents' call, everyone else's decisions. I shrug and nod.

Later that night, I float in our claw-footed tub, surrounded by abalone-shell-flecked tiles, miniature octagons grouted from floor to ceiling.

Will the anti-depressants train-wreck the remainder of my adventure through puberty?

Is it possible to train-wreck a train-wreck?

Underwater, I don't hear my parents' arguing voices anymore, the familiar chaos beyond the bathroom walls. But I know they're still fighting, about him cheating, about her ragging, and it tears a dagger through my insides.

Submerged, trying to numb fear, I eventually escape into dreaming.

I dream of rabbits whose bushy tails went missing. Cats with no eyes. I dream we all had wings, until the winds tore them from everyone but the birds. I used to think these were nightmares, yet as the world turns dark, my imagination feels more real than reality.

Then I can't help but feeling the Dreaming is the safest place now.

♦️

Fourteen years later, Lab Eleven rests my drugged body into a water tank twice the size of my tub, metallic and capable of complete lockdown, once they close the two wide-open graphinite doors.

After three suicide attempts, and six yearlong stunts with different cocktails mixed by Big Pharma, Dr. Lynn is still treating me; I'm her longest patient.

I've looked for second and third opinions. Most doctors write me off as low-function unipolar depression, like I'm permanently bolted to the bottom-barrel of human experience, emotions, efficiency. Dr. Lynn's the only one who believes I can wake up one day without the abyss of self-destructiveness that relentlessly whirls in my head.

Even my mother's given up on my smile. Instead, she reads about smiling depression, how I could survive this way long-term, hiding my pain from our family and friends. That would, in her mind, be the most honorable way to go about my suffering.

I'm twenty-eight years old now though, in this the tank, making my own decisions about who and what sees my pain. I am ready to make this treatment public—to tell my story—once this trial treatment is approved, and the nondisclosure agreement no longer binds me from sharing my experience with zines.

The warm water cocoons and suspends my body, keeping me adrift in the chasm of depression, of nothingness, burgeoned deep through the core of my body.

Two of the Lab Eleven assistants pour Epsom salts in gentle spirals around my floating hands. Dr. Lynn watches intently, and I look back at her, as an open-eyed corpse might stare back after floating and inflating too far down river.

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