Klonopin And Me: A Benzodiazepine Love Story

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Last night, for no particular reason, I decided to not to take my Klonopin. Let’s backtrack: I’ve been on this drug for about three years straight now. I’ve dealt with insufferable anxiety nearly my entire life, something I never truly realized until its ugly head reared itself in completely bizarre ways. When I was a kid, I was terrified of thunderstorms, when I was older, it manifested itself into a completely absurd fear of AIDS, and most recently, a crippling fear of dying alone. I always justified my behaviors, citing my fears to be relevant and based in reality — but they weren’t. I was born with a crooked head on my shoulders. So, I decided to go on Klonopin. I had read a lot of about it and decided I needed immediate action to get straighten up. The truth is, I don’t know exactly what’s wrong with me. Sure, there’s the perpetual anxiety, but there’s also the compulsive behaviors and unusual thought patterns.

It’s kind of like this: A regular person walks down the street and might worry about getting hit by a car. I walk down the street and consider the possibility that a horse could come out of the bushes and kick me in the chest, rendering me permanently disabled for the rest of the life. That’s about as realistic as my fantasies get. So I went on Klonopin after I grew physically and mentally tired of all this pain and stuck with it for three years. Three years I’ve been on this drug that some dub a “wonder drug” while others slap the title of “most dangerous drug on earth” on it. People get addicted, people abuse it, people can die from it. But, I guess you can also die from too much Tylenol. I’ve only ever taken 0.5 MG tablets, which is one of the smallest amounts you can get, but the change was immediate and life-changing. My anxiety disappeared, my speech slowed from my usual rapid-fire disjointed fragments to well-articulated paragraphs. My confidence increased, my sex drive decreased, and I could finally concentrate on something long enough to get it done. Klonopin left me productive, but it burnt me out. Totally burnt me out.

I feel like it’s such a stereotype to describe yourself as “numb” when you’re on prescription drugs. The same faux-angst one would see from a badly-written teenage character from a 90s sitcom. Numb is not what you feel on Klonopin. Because you don’t feel your lack of emotions, it just kind of happens. I’ve felt joy, sadness, heartbreak, hunger, everything. Klonopin doesn’t erase your personality — but it took something from me. I don’t find myself angry or resentful towards this drug and, if I had to choose between life on and off Klonopin, I’d choose on. But there’s still a part of me that’s lost and it pains me to think what I’d have to go through to get it back. The withdrawal from 0.5 MG — again, a small dosage — is bullshit, as decided by the day I had after I decided to forego my nightly pill. Many people describe the symptoms as “like having your brain lit on fire” and this statement, while hyperbolic, isn’t far off.

I remember going to the Museum of Natural History when I was a kid. There was this one section where you could stick your head in between these huge plastic ears that were supposed to mimic a fox’s sense of sound by magnifying the world around it. That’s what it’s like off Klonopin in the morning. Your sleep is uncomfortable and fidgety. You have loud dreams with loud people yelling in your brain and everything around you moves quickly and in slow motion all at once. Every question is shouted at you in a different language and it feel like your head is wrapped up in a cloud. Despite all the typos and extraneous comments likely scattered throughout this piece, I am a professional writer.

A day of writing during a Klonopin withdrawl makes you feel like you’re a third grader in college. Every task is a hundred times harder than it should be and you feel like every word you write is scrutinizing you and much as you’re scrutinizing it. I purposely walked around with my abandoned yellow pill in my pocket all day to see if I could do it. I lasted a long time. Much longer than I thought I’d last. It was during a meeting, in which I felt beads of sweat form at my brow, that I decided to take the pill from my pocket and place it under my tongue. Almost immediately, relief washed over me. In the fight between blandness and pain, blandness always wins… because, that’s how it goes. It’s not impossible to get off Klonopin. Not even close. The first few weeks are spent a gradually decreasing state of discomfort before it’s out of your system. There are a ton of natural herbs and remedies to supplement the powerful benzo — but it’s hard and my nerves can’t always take it.

I think about the chunk of me that was erased from Klonopin. The part of me that would listlessly stare out there window with his hand absent-mindedly propped against his chin. He’d brew coffee, but forget to turn it on until his craving for caffeine snapped him out of his languid state. Maybe his intermittent stutter and muddled verses were charming. Maybe. This guy now, this is still me. I always try to look at the big picture about people addicted — really addicted — to bad drugs. Klonopin doesn’t make me go on wild, shirtless murdering sprees and it doesn’t rot my flesh off my body. It’s just what it is, I guess. Sometimes I think about how funny it’d be for a doctor to call me up and tell me I’ve been on placebos the entire time. My brain would correct itself and I wouldn’t have to open up a vial of endless yellow pills to make me feel like a normal person the following day… but that’s not how it goes. Tonight, as I feel the effects of the drug weight down my eyelids and unclog the traffic jam that was previously going on within my head, I’ll raise a glass to my little yellow friend. TC mark

Like this post? Check out Aimless by Jeremy Glass here.

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