“Notes from the Spawn of Helicopter Parents” by Elizabeth Reitzell

The weed is helping. I can’t survive without it. Honestly, it more or less serves as a natural replacement for Lexapro, because fuck that shit. It’s like lightening your hair with lemon juice and sunlight instead of bleach and other harsh chemicals. Sure, both aren’t great for your hair, since the acidity in lemon juice dries your hair out, but it’s a hell of a lot less damaging long-term than the chemical alternative. I guess what I’m saying is that weed, I can cut out without any side effects other than just having to adjust to the lifestyle change. When I don’t feel like taking Lexapro, I get terrible headaches and extreme mood swings. It’s all bad.

When I was younger, I would hear friends talking about how they hated their medications and wouldn’t take them, and I remember thinking, ‘What the fuck? You mean you’re allowed to take drugs — like everyone. … your parents, your doctors, the school, everyone is chill with you being inebriated and you’re not into that?’ But that was never my experience growing up. Even if a doctor had told my parents I had a psychological problem (which never happened, by the way), my parents wouldn’t have listened. My dad thinks drugs are for weak people and my mom thinks I’m perfect, an absolute angel sent from god.

My therapist gave me the analogy about diabetics needing insulin, whatever. But I mean, I’m not against medicine. I take allergy pills every day, especially with these bullshit leaves changing right now and all the fucked up pollen. Just kidding, I actually take immense pleasure in seeing the Virginia leaves dip from boring green to shades of grapefruit and cinnamon.

The point I’m making is that I don’t need it for literal survival, Lexapro, not in the way that a diabetic needs insulin, or that an asthmatic requires an inhaler. I’m fine without it.

I wish I could live at work, where everyone thinks I’m fine. It’s the only safe place I seem to have left these days. I guess I’ve successfully faked it until I made it.

On a social capacity, the smallest phone call I receive can fuck me up. It can make me want to claw at myself, quite literally. I’ll end the phone call with crescents from my nails carved into my forearm. What I used to do when I was younger was I’d slap my face as hard as I could, first on one side and then the other. It was the only thing that could snap me out of things or make me feel better. It worked every single time. Sure, sometimes it would make me cry harder, but it always, without fail, would give me the sensation of bouncing high up on a trampoline. That’s one of my favorite feelings. … I love that feeling right as you’ve filled your lungs completely up, just before you let it all go. But just breathing normally doesn’t feel the same way. It’s kind of how ecstasy feels, or molly, or even Dust-off before you get too faded. Ecstasy feels like you’ve just taken in a deep, exciting breath, but you don’t have to let it go for hours. It stays with you, like your chest is puffed out with air, and you’re free as fuck, up until the dreaded comedown. That’s when you start to realize that, whoa, it was all fake. You never really felt the good things. All the hope you had was idealistic.

All the love you felt for life and music and the random friends you may have kissed…it was all the chemical.


Elizabeth Reitzell is an English teacher and a newspaper copy editor. She holds an MFA from Hollins University. Born and raised in the Southern Californian town where ‘Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure’ was set, Elizabeth now resides in Roanoke, Virginia.