A weekend away probably wasn’t the best time to break an addiction. Yet, there I was, attempting to kick my dependence to Xanax, a crutch I had leaned on heavily now for over ten years. I had been addicted to not feeling, safe in the knowledge of knowing that squashing any feeling of fear was just a blue pill away, my bitter calm. My VIP pass into sleep at night.
I was special. I didn’t need to suffer a stomach full of butterflies or a fretful night, forever on the edge of sleep. I should have never had to rationalize myself out of irrational fear. But as I had distanced myself away from those feelings, those experiences, I had distanced myself away from humanity in some way.
We are not brought together by our strengths, but by our weaknesses.
Twenty-four hours in and without, I was finding myself feeling as if I had consumed a full pot of coffee over breakfast. Jittery, foot bobbing, knee-jerking. I was trying to turn the feeling into some kind of high, a rush. The "fight or flee" response was taking me for a roller-coaster ride, over and over.
I waited for the inevitable derailment, the tidal wave of panic, the sudden urge to rush to the nearest emergency room where I would beg and plead to be hooked up to an EKG machine, positive I was suffering a heart attack. Feeling that I was about to die, I would be witness to the whole scene.
Not that I was afraid of death. I just didn’t want to be around when it happened.
Short of breath, drenched in sweat, feeling as if the world was swallowing me alive, I would rush to the almost empty bottle. This is the game I would play as I was nearing the bottom of the well. How far could I stretch out my prescription before I would end up sitting pitifully in the doctor’s office, feeling like Oliver Twist, asking for “more soup, please”, fearful of being denied. This was just yet another round.
I’ve talked myself into this, could I talk my way out? Or would I succumb to the crutch leaning in the corner, borrowing another Dickensonian image.
What was I really addicted to? I was addicted to quick relief. But, aren’t we all, I wondered as my husband shook two acetaminophen into his hand to ease his pestering headache? Just make it go away…pain, discomfort, all the stings and arrows of life, as so commonly mis-quoted. I paced with indecision. Just go take a pill, will you? I needed to drive into town soon. Would I take the bottle with me, just in case, or would I pull up my big girl britches and leave my blanket at home? I so dreadfully needed to take a nap, since sleep had not graced me last night, my first night without help in ten years. I know what would happen, as it had happened before--I would be wrenched from my mid-day dream, if indeed I had gotten that far, taken by a wave of panic so strong, it would cause me to rush to the bathroom mirror to see if I looked alive, if I still looked like myself. I would be drowning in the undertow like I had so many times before.
This highly addictive substance, it took away my panic attacks, but it had also stole away aspects of my short-term memory. Time tends to pass by without notice, and before I would know it, it would be the fifteenth of the month and my water bill would be over-due. Had I taken out the garbage to the curb, or had I only thought I did?
In a cruel twist, this tic-tac sized panacea would also remind me by its absence as to why I have kept it in my life for so long. The panic that I would experience could be far worse than the panic that caused me to hook up with this nasty palindrome in the first place. I knew this from past experiences in attempting to walk without the crutch. I could slowly wean myself of this substance, but as in the words of King Baby, “I want it, and I want it NOW!” I wanted relief from the drug as quickly as I wanted relief from the panic. Couldn’t there be a drug I could take when suffering from Xanax?
After the three day mark, I will have most likely dove head first into admitting defeat. Right now, the referee is pounding on the mat next to my head. Ring the bell, declare the winner. I know it’s not me. It never is.
But in twenty minutes, I won’t give a damn.