Thursday, March 16, 2006

I Just Dropped In (To See What Condition My Prescriptions Were In)

Your skin starts itching once you buy the gimmick
- Lust For Life
, Iggy Pop

It’s one of Nature’s little jokes that, after years of refusing to indulge in the recreational use of drugs, I should become so dependent upon the legally prescribed variety.

This is only one of Nature’s little jokes at my expense. Maybe we’ll get into some of the others later.

It’s very hard to think back to a time when I wasn’t taking a daily regimen of something. You’d have to go back to before the first panic attack, which happened somewhere around 20 years ago.

I was working in a gas station when all of a sudden I felt as if I were having a heart attack. My pulse was racing and my heart began to beat wildly out of control. I felt as if I were going to die.

This was the first of many times when it would be explained to me that there was nothing actually wrong with my heart. Instead, I was suffering from panic disorder, an unwelcome remnant of our ancestors’ “fight-or-flight” mechanism. It had been a useful thing back in the day, but was now decidedly old school.

It was something that could be tied into depression, too, a possibility that would require a good deal of therapy. In the meantime, though, I needed something to get me through the moment.

God knows what any of these potions were called. I’ve been through so many of them. Sometimes they’d turn you into a zombie, but allow you to get through the day. Other times you’d feel as if you weren’t sedated enough, and you’d have to deal with panic attacks in the middle of the workday and hope no one noticed.

Therapy could help you try and isolate some of the psychological causes of the anxiety, while relaxation exercises could help you to ride out an attack if it was unavoidable.

And caffeine – lovely, lovely caffeine – would have to go, or at least be reduced.

I’ve gone through periods of being off the drugs, but usually the idea that I could do without them turned out to be wishful thinking.

Now one of the drawbacks of my recent dismissal from Endless Bore & Tedium has been the loss of my health plan. Being dependent on so many drugs now, the plan was the only way I was able to afford them.

It was the only reason I asked them to reconsider firing me. Couldn’t they see their way clear, after 20 years of service and being 50 years of age, to giving me a break for health considerations?

They thought about it for a moment.

Er, no.

And so I’ve been hoping that I’d be able to find employment before I needed to get any of my prescriptions refilled. Just in case that plan didn’t go well, I began to space the drugs out. Instead of taking them daily, I’d let a couple days go by. Then a few more.

I thought that if worse came to worse and I ran out of the drugs completely, at least my system wouldn’t be as shocked as if I’d stopped cold turkey.

Well, I’ve completely stopped taking my one major antidepressant, while continuing to reduce some of the others by cutting them in half. They, too, will soon be gone.

I’ve been interested in finding out how I would feel, insofar as you can forget what it’s like not to have their help. In other words, how much of life has been obscured by the drugs? How much more are you now able to feel? Which feels more natural?

The withdrawal symptoms were a little worse than I’d expected. Not continuing to take the drug created a sense of intense fatigue, as if your head were somehow underwater. I began to experience frequent headaches and would often feel as if my entire body was shuddering, as if I’d skipped a heartbeat.

Just when I thought I’d started to feel pretty good and could glimpse the light at the end of the tunnel, I’d get another day of feeling as if I were moving through molasses.

A little online research confirmed that these symptoms weren’t unusual. In fact, many people trying to quit the drug seemed to go through far worse for far longer.

As I write this, the worst seems to be over and I’m settling into feeling a little more normal on a day-to-day basis. My emotions feel a little more nearer the surface, perhaps, but no real major problems (as they like to say in the traffic reports).

So we’ll see. Hopefully, I’ll manage until I can afford a health plan again. Even if I get one, maybe I’ll see how well I can manage without.

Because these things are such a double-edged sword. They’re great while you’re taking them, but if you stop you feel like you just fell into a William Burroughs novel.

Which I’ll take over Bret Easton Ellis, but you know what I’m saying.


Anonymous Uncle Cleetus said...

Stop by the local Health Food Store- A good B-complex (B100) is essential for good mental health. Many of us are depleted in B vitamins and experience moodiness, depression and anger. I can be a total ASSHOLE when I don't take my B vitamins.

I too have panic attacks, angina, and a host of other issues-

St. Johns Wort, Mag-Glycinate and CO-Q10 (Heart Health) are also ones to add to your arsenal.

This is no BULLSHIT- vitamins & good diet can change your life... and the BIG DRUG companies don't get fat from your $$!

Side effects- zip! Positive results a BIG YES! Google some of these supplements- inform yourself!

Try it- change your life!

Saturday, March 18, 2006 12:18:00 PM  

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