“Tell the experiences of a person who’s losing one emotion every day.”
I used to have real anger issues. No, I wasn’t angry all the time. It was more insidious, more dangerous than that. I, like so many men before me, developed a bad habit of bottling up my frustrations until I blew like a faulty pressure cooker. It was hard to keep long term friends or pursue a career with such a volatile nature. I definitely burned more than my fair share of bridges. Hell, I blew those bridges sky-high with a half-ton of emotional dynamite.
I dealt with the consequences of my rage the best I could, or at least I convinced myself that I did. Still, every newly ruined relationship served only to stoke the fire inside me and drive me that much closer to another outburst, cycling endlessly. It was my life. I never really made an effort to change until after last Thanksgiving when– well, let’s just say that my father and I still aren’t on speaking terms. I don’t like to talk about what I said to him. I don’t like to think about what I said to him.
I knew I wasn’t in control after that incident, and I resolved to change. I went through a bevy of self-help books, and I thought I was making real progress until I threw my desk lamp through my TV when I struggled to grasp a concept in Rage against the Routine: Finding Vivacity in Variety. I tried therapy, but it turns out even therapists draw a line at flipping the couch out the window. If anything, the frustration of trying to improve myself only made my tantrums more frequent. Perhaps it was destiny, though. My tantrums are what drew the attention of Dr. Samuel Beech.
Dr. Beech had been at the therapist’s office scouting out potential candidates for a clinical study on a new medication, Tranqira. After witnessing my eruption, he approached me and explained the program to me, informing me that I was an ideal participant. The drug was intended to put a damper on chronic surges of rage, which I clearly suffered from. Having tried everything else I could think of, I jumped at the chance to medicate my problems away. The fact that it was a paying gig didn’t hurt, since I never knew how long I’d keep a job.
Tranqira was still in the very beginning stages of clinical trials, when safety and dosage were still being fine-tuned. That didn’t deter me for a moment. I was desperate to rid myself of my unpredictable temperament. The Saturday of the trial I was too excited to even eat. I rushed to the facility an hour and a half early and waited impatiently to be let in. After attending a few seemingly endless lectures and signing more complicated paperwork than when I purchased my car, I was finally given three little green pills, what was explained to me to be a “heavy” dose. I was then handed a bottle of the same pills and told to continue that dosage daily for the next month according to the included instructions unless serious side effects occurred. We would then reconvene to report the efficacy of the drug.
I could have reported on the “efficacy of the drug” the very next day. I could feel the difference by lunchtime at the café at the other end of my block. The wait was short, the staff was friendly. I hadn’t yet run into any situations that would set me off, but I felt… cool inside, as though some kind of burning sensation that had been in effect for so long that it had become background noise had finally been relieved. I felt confident. I felt calm. What really clinched it was when my BLT came with the mayonnaise that I had ordered it without, and I didn’t feel even a flicker of anger. It was remarkable. Then, like a song that you can’t get out of your head, the memory of my last encounter with my father wormed its way into my mind. I felt an intense regret that I hadn’t pursued help sooner. My mistake haunted me, and even though it appeared I had finally achieved success in gaining control of myself, I couldn’t shake the notion that it was too little, too late. I took my daily dose of Tranqira, finished my lunch quietly and quickly, and spend the rest of the day wallowing in misery and self-pity. Only the rest of the day, though.
The next morning, Monday, I woke up early to get ready for work. After clearing my sleep-addled mind with a cup of coffee, the routine of preparing for the day afforded me time for my mind to wander. It didn’t take long for my train of thought to arrive at Ruined Relationship Junction. Strangely, however, I felt no regret. I was aware that I should, and that I had only the day before. I could remember everything I had said to my father, every nasty word of it, and I understood exactly how hurtful it was, how in the wrong I was. Still, no sadness registered. Just mild intellectual concern for a problem unsolved. It puzzled me throughout my drive to my employer at the time, a small data-entry firm. However, with work came distraction, and I soon wrote off my strange new attitude as a positive step in my rehabilitation. That reminded me of the method of my rehabilitation, and I popped my little green trio of pills into my mouth sitting at my desk.
Tuesday I lost anticipation. That’s when everything really started to roll downhill. It was just like sadness. I knew about upcoming events, about meetings and plans and holidays. They simply didn’t register as significant. There was nothing to look forward to, nothing to get excited about. There were only things that would eventually happen, or not happen. It didn’t matter. I still felt joy when I experienced something positive, like having a really good omelet for breakfast, but being reminded about a looming deadline at work didn’t faze me. I understood it was important, yet felt no drive to complete the task assigned to me. Instead, I spent the day indulging in casual time-wasting on the internet and long breaks. Deadlines were for some other me, not the now me. All I needed to do was to take my Tranqira and enjoy whatever came along, or else sit in quiet hopelessness until something enjoyable did come along.
Wednesday was sympathy. It was so subtle a change I didn’t even realize it at the time. It’s only looking back that I’m able to deduce the change. I frankly didn’t even consider the thoughts or feelings of anyone else at that point. They had no significance. When I arrived at work, I decided I didn’t like work. I told my manager that I didn’t like work, or him, and was leaving now. I stopped only to inform a coworker I passed that he smelled awful and now I wanted to leave even more. I drove home at a very casual pace, enjoying the clouds and oblivious to the angry honking coming from the long line of cars behind me. I wanted to drive slowly, so I did. What did they matter?
When I arrived at home I was quite hungry, so I called in an order for two large pizzas. I took my Tranqira while I waited. It was a long wait time, so I absent-mindedly read over the fine text behind the label on my prescription bottle. This was the first that I had actually gone over the instructions regarding the medication, and I felt a sharp thrill of fear run down my spine when I saw that they warned explicitly not to take the drug on an empty stomach. Thinking back, I realized I had exclusively taken my pills on an empty stomach. I was intensely worried for my well-being, but felt no drive to protect future me from harm. For the next thirty minutes I was a wreck, weeping in helpless terror and unable to formulate any kind of plan of action. Fortunately the delivery boy arrived then, and I was overcome with joy at the smell of the pizza. I took the pizzas, matter-of-factly informed him that I did not want to pay, and locked the door on him. The rest of the day was spent in cheesy bliss.
Thursday is the day I lost my fear. It was a short day. I woke up, ate every delicious thing I could find in my house, and then wandered outside. I managed about half an hour of aimless roaming, staring at everything around me and feeling overwhelming joy at some sights, total emptiness at others. I was marveling at a beautiful red sports car that had just driven past me when I felt a sudden impact in my side, a flash of intense pain, then blackness.
I woke up Friday evening in the hospital. I had wandered onto a highway and been hit by an SUV. They said I was incredibly lucky to have survived the accident. I didn’t feel lucky. I didn’t feel happy to be alive. To be fair, I didn’t feel sad to be alive either. Everything was gone. I listened carefully to what the nurse had to tell me, candidly informed her that I was tired, and closed my eyes.
Turns out it takes about three weeks of discontinued use for Tranqira to be fully expunged from the body. Just in time to report my findings.
Original Prompt: Reddit – Emotional Loss