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Pill Head

Adam O. Thomas photo

By Amil Niazi

Thursday December 1, 2005

Put it in your mouth and swallow After a conversation with a friend that was drenched in deja talk and sameness, we came upon the mutual realization that we’d graduated out of depression and devolved into the school of nouveau malaise. Catapulting between the extreme modernity of having a conversation involving pharmaceuticals de jour and the nostalgic notions of universal boredom, the relevancy of the topic came to light quickly.

So long immersed in the concepts of indefinite ennui, I had never acknowledged the reality of activity in the relief of pseudo-existential beaking. The mealy-minded theories behind a curable mal-a-tete seem now so quaint, antiquated. Like using a corset to combat weight-gain, over-the-counters are portrayed as the band-aid choice of the lazy. The idea being that the bell jar lasts only as long as the winter, but the boredom is permanent; a winging feeling that rightly crops up when the mud has thickened beyond dilution.

These are the moments when the depression is dispassionate, but the sudden urge to change continents or go back to school becomes desperately important. “You have to get out of here, it’s the only way!” Now is when you get that seemingly retarded tattoo about your newly found Buddhist beliefs and revolutionary straight edge ways. Now you are adopting a new moniker and planning the naturally exciting existence you’ll lead as soon as you can make that one big change. Of course the results of these changes are always the same. I’ve known several people who’ve up and gone away only to return, much as they were. All that’s replaced the angst are some stories about foreign pubs and people they’ll never see again. Even the hallowed degree is only meaningful while you’re in pursuit of it. As soon as the cap and gown ceremony is over, you’re right where you started, but even more, further in debt. The anti-depressants then, I suppose, make their entrance here because the resulting melancholy feels like something a pill might be able to fix. And like any other drug it’s the first high that hooks you, but you’ll never be that up again. Anyone who’s had the misfortune to chase the Wellbutrin dragon understands that rush of newly found exuberance is quickly replaced with the crash of insomnia and rapid heart beat. The boredom comes back and the impossible trappings of this feeling make sure you don’t desire any productive change, only the impossible. And since you can barely leave the bed let alone feasibly begin a new project or lifestyle, you’re back on the purple.

Do we not tackle the constraints of boredom because of the subjective allowances for the word? The long held idea is that only boring people become bored, that idle hands are the devil’s plaything and in keeping those hands busy one is constantly fulfilled and entertained. But behind the veneer of productivity and creativity is the salacious desire for a moreness that can never be sated. No amount of doing or being can ever quench the thirst of someone disappointed with disappointment. To say there is no drug for boredom is also not true, because all drugs are designed specifically for boredom. Watch any after-school special and you’ll hear the constant moans of teenagers complaining about the lack of things to do, the impetus of boredom that sprung them onto all manner of hallucinogens in the first place. My problem is simply that there are no good drugs for boredom. At least not ones that will do what you need them to, which are, of course, everything and nothing.