Medicating Salvation: Know Clonazepam Know Peace

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Medicating Salvation, or How I Survived a Situational Panic Attack

Continued from No Xanax No Peace

Tuesday Night

I feel great from school pick-up until about 10:00pm when sleep should be imminent.  The switch goes on.  The hot water bottle offers solace but it cannot block the rush.  I take a melatonin and lie down then immediately get up, spinning.  I take my first Xanax at 10:45pm.  An hour later I take a sleeping pill.  I consider taking two and wonder if I’ll die.  Don’t people die from taking sleeping pills?  How many is too many?  Everything stops and moments of sleep flutter in and flutter out.  I have to leave the bed.  I cannot lie next to Kris who sleeps so soundly, yet I plummet at the prospect of being alone.  I boil more water for the hot water bottle and move to the sofa.  I avoid all clocks.

I know at some point I fall sleep because I dream.

Wednesday

One more day, one more pound lost.

Half-blind with fatigue but full of dread, Farrah and I go to the walk-in clinic.  Like any parent I hate bringing my healthy kid around sick people and since she’s a thumbsucker I feel worse.  Cue more guilt and despair.

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It takes two hours to see a doctor and when we finally do I start sobbing and confess all.  She confirms my physical wellness, questions my mental wellness, scraps the .25mg Xanax and tells me to take .5mg Clonazepam twice a day for an entire week – regardless of how I am feeling – and then once conquered, use as needed.

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Wednesday Night – PILL ONE

With my new pattern of terror one night, collapse the next, I don’t think I need the Clonazepam.  (See how I am?)  My body will shut down on Collapse Night so why should I take it?  I’m very scared.  I detest mind-altering drugs (see Marijuana Doula).  My husband nudges.  I take the pill and simultaneously the terror washes over me, just like every night.

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Indescribable panic fills my veins as I think the one thing that should work is not.  Kris talks me down, reminds me it’s only been 15 minutes.  I exhale and distract myself with an episode of Friends.  Very soon my body grows heavy.  Kris helps me to bed with required hot water bottle.  My chest is busy, my mind is busy but it is Collapse Night so I sleep.

I wake when Kris comes to bed later.  Surge for several minutes then sleep.  The cats do their usual 3am howl.  Surge for several minutes, despair over Clonazepam not working/needing sleeping pill, panic about having to move to the sofa but then … sleep.

Thursday – PILL TWO

One more day, one less pound.  I have no appetite and realize this is the cause of the daytime tremors but eating makes me sick.  In other words, everything is fucked up.  I cannot put too fine a point on that.

I wonder again, why am I taking this pill?  I don’t have these attacks during the day and well, I have children to raise.  But I do it.  I do it because the doctor told me to.

My husband goes to work and we walk to my son’s school.

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I feel nothing different except not caring about being 15 minutes late which is notable because I have never been late to school, let alone 15 minutes’ worth.  It’s a good feeling this not-feeling.  I know my kids are happier for not being bullied/rushed around.

Farrah and I have a good time wandering back home.  She’s content.  Everything feels normal.  I prep a dinner I won’t eat.

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I am clear in thought and even inspired as I decide to move Farrah’s play kitchen into our kitchen.

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My daughter is happy.

After nap we walk back to school to get Arlo and then go to a friend’s house to play.  I feel totally normal until this friend tells me that he and Kris will likely go out to drinks Saturday night which I only hear as “You will be ALONE Saturday night.”  Cue churning gut, loose bowels, cold sweats. etc.  Could he tell?

Thursday Night – PILL THREE

Things calm down at the dinner table but there’s no question of taking the Clonazepam after the kids are in bed.  I’ve also decided to sleep in the extra bed upstairs.  No howling cats, no snoring husband.  When the pill kicks in, I trust I’ll sleep.  I’m not scared, or if the fear is there, the medicine is holding it back.  I sleep and don’t really wake up until the kids do at 6am.  I am elated and enjoy my bounding-in bedmate who is delighted to see his Momma upstairs.

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Friday – PILL FOUR

One more day, no pounds lost.

I take the pill, don’t even think about it and feel no impact from it the whole day.  It was a day like any other.  A good day.

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Friday Night – PILL FIVE

My appetite has returned.  I feel certain that I will escape the fear tonight.  I already feel like maybe it is something in my past.  But I take the Clonazepam anyway and retire to my sanctuary upstairs.  I fall asleep to that 30 Rock episode with Jenna Mulroney choking on artificial coffee creamer.  I shut the laptop and sleep all night.

In the morning I think about another episode of 30 Rock that revolved around Liz Lemon taking an anti-anxiety pill for a flight:

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Stars – They’re Just Like Us!  This is so normal.  It’s so normal, it’s sitcom-normal.  A week ago I could just fall asleep and now I need a pill and the mind control of David Blaine to shut my eyes for 30 seconds.  Normal?

Saturday – PILL SIX

Just going with the prescribed flow.

Saturday Night – PILL SEVEN

Before I take the pill, my son wakes up from being sick.  I help him through a shower, into clean pajamas and soothe him back to sleep.  I deal with the laundry, cleaning the rug, all that stuff and by the time I’ve finished it’s very late, which makes me think the pill won’t work.  I don’t know why.  I take it anyway, drag myself upstairs and fall asleep.  Amen.

Sunday – PILL SEVEN-AND-A-HALF

I’m groggy so I decide to only take half a pill.  I know I’m groggy from the extra work of disinfecting and laundering the kids’ room, but it’s a good enough reason to start weaning.  I am ready to be in charge of my mind and body again.

I appreciate you reading.  As a child of adoption I document everything about my health so that my kids never have to guess their medical history.  That I also share it here on BPS means I get to speak my truth, out loud, and for those staring at a bottle of pills they never thought they’d need, I offer peace, over-the-counter, and with the best of intentions.

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7 thoughts on “Medicating Salvation: Know Clonazepam Know Peace

  1. Normally I don’t comment on blogs in general, but these posts spoke to me. I’ve had depression and anxiety all my life. The most acute anxiety attack I’ve ever had occurred when I was trying to decide whether to move from one job to another. It took 10 weeks to make the decision and I lost 25lbs over that period of time. I finally called my doctor and she prescribed clonazepam in the same manner you describe above. It was a life-saver. Now I have a PRN prescription I just keep around the house and I’ll take a pill, or a half pill, if and when it’s necessary. Sometimes just knowing it’s there is enough to make everything okay; sometimes I actually need it. The thing I’ve learned about anxiety is that sometimes you just need to break the cycle (similar to insomnia, actually) and remind your brain what normal feels like. Good luck.

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