xanax

5 Things Xanax Has Taught Me About Life

Like many grappling with mental illness, I have a love-hate relationship with medication. I wish I didn’t need to take it, but I do. In addition to the antidepressant that I take daily, I have also taken Xanax occasionally, usually when traveling or if a panic attack seems imminent. Of course, for me, panic attacks can be imminent when going to class or work, hanging out with friends, or going on the subway. I find Xanax a comforting and troubling drug, even when it helps, and there are a few things I’ve learned about it and my anxiety over the years.

1. The easy way is never really easy.

Taking a tablet of Xanax is kind of like flipping a switch. It makes me a bit numb. I’m aware that I’m anxious. My stomach may still be hurting, but I don’t care anymore. It breathes calm and cool air into me. It makes my eyelids heavy and wills me to sleep. Yet I cannot take Xanax all the time, for obvious reasons. When coming down from Xanax, it reemphasizes how hard life is when I’m not on it. It points out how much work I have to do so that one day, hopefully, I no longer need Xanax or any other medication, but it seems very far off.

2. Sometimes you’d rather be numb than hurt.

“It’s better to feel pain than nothing at all.” How many musicians, like the Lumineers, have we heard sing something like this? I suppose it’s true. Emotions make us human. Yet, as anyone with mental illness knows that sometimes numbness is preferable to depression or anxiety. When I take Xanax, part of me is making a conscious choice to be numb, because the anxiety is too much. Because there are indeed days when the nausea, headaches, hot flashes, dizziness, and numb extremities aren’t exactly appreciated, despite them reassuring me that I am “feeling.”

3. Don’t judge addicts.

Anyone who’s taken Xanax or Valium knows how seductive they can be. I’ve never taken drugs recreationally, and I don’t drink, so this is as close as I get to being high. It can be delightful to forget everything for a few hours. Because of this, I understand opiate addicts. I have had a very good life. My anxiety is a problem without a root cause or trauma. For people with even worse problems than me, I can completely understand why they live for their drug of choice and embrace numbness (or ecstasy) instead of living clean. For this, addicts do need help, and a hell of a lot more than they need a detox too.

4. Water is amazing.

Xanax makes me absurdly thirsty, so I drink a lot of water. There’s really no other point here, just maybe appreciate water a little more. It’s delicious, and it can make things a smidgen better.

5. In my natural state, I am delightful.

When I am relaxed, I am a comedian. I watch videos like this and cannot stop laughing. I talk to my fiancé candidly, honestly, peacefully. We lie next to each other, our faces inches apart, and just talk. We may talk about the anxiety, but usually we talk about movies, family, and friends. I can go to the movies and go out to dinner without any second thoughts. I take the metro into the city to wander the art galleries. I am me. TC mark

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