To the Man at the Party Who Saw the Pain Meds Fall Out of My Purse


It was cold outside, but the chill came on rather suddenly after a bout of warm weather that wasn’t entirely unusual for Ohio. That was trigger number one.

I was in the middle of finals week, a flurry of balancing studying with my part time job that always sent me into heavy stress regardless of how prepared I was—a byproduct of having an anxiety disorder. That was trigger number two.

My social anxiety was screaming being surrounded by people I don’t know all that well at a holiday dinner for my boyfriend’s office. That was trigger number three.

So, by the time we were sitting down to dinner, I was already attempting to nurse a migraine out of existence while managing to keep a smile on my face, an act I’ve practiced far too many times. I had my normal stash of pain meds and Benadryl stuffed in an old Tic-Tac container in my purse in case I really did need that second dose of Treximet, and, when I reached into my bag to grab something, it went flying under the table.

That’s when you, with utmost discretion, tapped me on my shoulder, told me my mints had fallen out of my bag, and turned around like nothing had happened. I was expecting you to bring it up the next day when my boyfriend was at work, but again you kept mum, and for that I will always be thankful.

See, I know you saw the array of multicolored pills when they fell from my bag. I’m always incredibly nervous what people will say when they see it, since most don’t know I have chronic migraine and chronic daily headache and I don’t know if my boyfriend has explained that the reason I travel to Chicago every three months, often with him in tow, is for my usual visit with my neurologist and to receive my latest set of Botox injections. I was fully expecting it to be something you would ask him about, because if I was in your position I, too, would want to know why my coworker’s girlfriend totes a small pharmacy, stuffed in an old mint container, around with her. And maybe you did want to know, but you didn’t let that curiosity get in the way of your decency and instead let it go without asking any questions.

For that, I must say: thank you. I will never forget that small kindness you offered me when you allowed me to keep secret the reason I had so much medication with me, especially since I simply didn’t have the energy to pretend I felt great and explain my (often confusing) medical history with someone I’ve only met a few times in the past. You couldn’t have known that the stress of finals and my own anxiety had me burning up my energy store for the evening faster than ever, but you still didn’t feel the need to ask questions. That kindness did not go unnoticed.

Thank you for offering me kindness when I expected curiosity.

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