I am watching Girl, Interrupted, the film based on the book by Susanna Kaysen – an autobiographical story, and at the same time I am reading More, Now, Again by Elizabeth Wurtzel because even though I’ve read and seen both before and read the book by Kaysen as well, I have never seen them together and for some reason, on this day, this seems important, if not critical to any meaningful analysis of the two.
If you’ve ever wondered what it would be like to be a drug addict or, as Wurtzel writes, then read her book and you’ll know in a heartbeat the instant love and attachment that one can so easily form to the right drug at the right time (or the wrong drug at the wrong time, depending on your viewpoint). That wanting a drug so badly, as clearly she has, is for certain, a form of Love if not the only form of love that truly matters.
Elizabeth Wurtzel, from the backflap of her book More, Now, Again.
In Wurtzel’s case, the drug is Ritalin – Ritalin ground into a fine, white powder, chopped into thin lines and laid out on glossy, black book covers (that seem tailor-made for such snorting) and then, whoosh, up the nose. Methylphenidate, the thing everyone is after and that gives you that supreme focus and ability to churn out endless stories and do research for hours, but as Wurtzel found out, also is non-discriminating and will have you focusing on the most mundane of things, wasting hours, if not days of your life. You may well find yourself, as she did, in your bathroom under a bright, fluorescent light, plucking away at your leg hairs singularly with a tweezer because it seems like the thing to do. You may also find yourself digging and digging with that tweezer until you wind up in the E.R. with a serious and oozing wound that has gone untended and turned several shades of green because you just can’t leave it alone and I understand this. I really do. I once spent hours bleaching every white surface in the house when I first got on Ritalin and that was for legitimate use, taken as prescribed. I just couldn’t get over how un-white the whites were, so I made it my business to make friends with the Clorox. In fact, I bleached so much of the house that I passed out in the bathroom from the fumes and saw bright, sparkly blue stars but none of this mattered at the time. All that mattered was that the house be clean and white and sparkly. Yes – very sparkly.
Having been on Ritalin for a good part now of my life, I know all too well the effect is has on the mind and the psyche. I know that when I take my Ritalin as I am supposed to and am a good little girl, I am able to focus and stay awake and do my work like a normal person, but read here like a normal person because for me, Ritalin, alas, does not get me high, but just makes me normal because without it, I would sleep all day long from narcolepsy, which somehow they believe is related to my epilepsy. Who has ever heard of a narcoleptic-epileptic who when she isn’t seizing, is sleeping? It’s absurd. It sounds like a bad joke, almost a dirty joke. There was the bleaching incident on the first day, but after that, Ritalin has left me remarkably calm and normal. I simply stay awake like I am supposed to and am able to focus like anyone else – no better, no worse.