Been struggling with a nasty, sneaky, slowly escalating xanax habit since 2008. I was working with someone who had been using it and would extol the virtues of it all the time. Truth is, he would drive me shithouse writing these scripts I had to shoot that even Spielberg would find challenging. I would really lose it sometimes. I’m wound pretty tight.
When we would go to lunch he would be under the influence sometimes and he would get food everywhere but in his mouth. He had an unmanageable beard and a penchant for creamy, greasy, messy foods that would drive me up the booth. He even said to me once, “you make me nervous when we go out to lunch.” Really?
He would constantly have the phone out and always let out a howl when the inevitable would happen – a big old nasty grease stain on his shirt. Funny, he always acted like it was the first time it had ever happened.
But I digress. One day he gave me a couple because I was becoming unhinged on a shoot that he was involved in. He said “here, take a couple of these and you’ll feel better.” I slipped them into my pocket because I wasn’t sure what effect they would have on me.
The next week, I had to go to Puerto Rico on a spec shoot with some marketing folks on an early morning flight. After many years of flying I have grown to hate it and everything about it. So after the first delay, I remember the xanax my writer friend had given me. Once we boarded, I slipped one under my tongue and drifted pleasantly off into unconsciousness. I woke up as we were landing.
While we were waiting for our bags, these people I was traveling with were complaining of all the fits and starts to our journey. One of them said, “All those delays were one thing, but changing planes was the real killer.” Changing planes? I didn’t remember changing planes. Or anything else for that matter. As a matter of fact, I felt great. Refreshed, even.
As I’m fond of saying “anything worth doing is worth overdoing” and here we are today. Off and running. Or not.
About a year ago, I decided to kick the xanax. I was on a very short leash with my prescribing physician, who kept lowering my dose while my Jones was raging and kicking in the stall. At this point, I’m not getting any buzz or any pleasantness from this shit. But God help you if you miss a dose. It’s what I call diminishing returns. Pure misery.
I jumped off without her involvement because she hasn’t a fucking clue. Period. I felt like she had me where she wanted me and there I would stay. I’ve called on docs for thirty years and I know dead bang sure a lot of them only know as much about the side effects or efficacy of a drug as their rep tells them. This I know.
So, after twelve very uncomfortable days and nights, I start to feel a ray of hope. I’m still jiggy but I can see some daylight. But let me tell you, some of those days were hell. It feels like a cold wind blowing through your innards and hopelessness is your only friend.
One day, CVS texts me and tells me my next scrip is ready. Knowing that I’m a dyed in the wool junkie, I call and tell them I’ve discontinued the medication and cancel the dose. Finito.
I don’t know how this works but somehow my doc gets word that I’ve jumped and hits the panic button. I’m in my mid-sixties and they get concerned (all of a sudden) with my mortality. The nurse calls my house and says my doc wants to see me immediately. I get over there in an hour and she wants me in one of the exam rooms pronto.
I’m feeling pretty cocky at this point. I’m like “hey doc, you know that little game we’ve been playing for the last six years? It’s over! It felt like dumping a cheating girlfriend. But this girlfriend doesn’t care to be jilted.
I’m sitting in the exam room looking at all the charts of diseases I’m pretty sure I don’t have, when the three of them burst in. Two docs and a physician’s assistant. They pull up stools with wheels and move in.
One starts getting my vitals while another is holding my hand. My blood pressure’s up to like 145 over 80. I’ve been there before and lots higher due to that practice’s ineptitude, so I’m not sweating it.
So my doc exhales deeply and says, “what do you think you’re doing?” I says, “I’m sick of this shit and I’m not gonna play any more.” I tell her I have 12 days and counting. She says, “you were on a pretty high dose and you aren’t out of the woods yet.”
“Anything can still happen. This drug is very uncontrollable and unpredictable and I’m worried something will happen to you.” I can’t believe this happy horse shit. ” I want you back on immediately and we’ll do a step-down over a longer period.”
I am very disappointed, but that little monkey inside me wants to play. It’s like your aunt wants to buy you an ice cream and your parents don’t want you to spoil your dinner.
So the monkey starts rattling the cage and I admit I have still been feeling shaky and I say, well, OK, if we can do a supervised step down, maybe I can go back and kick without all the suffering I’ve endured. She calls CVS and tells them I’ll be right over.
I am a very foolish man.
And here we are today, a year later and deeper in the grip of my monkey boy. A month ago, I ended up in the emergency room with a skyrocketing blood pressure and shaking like a go-go girl, all due to a miscommunication with my prescription.
I’m building an ass kicking machine in my garage to remind myself what a moron I am. This time though, I’m sick and tired of being sick and tired. I’m suffering through another miscommunication and paying the cost, but I will prevail this time.
If there’s one thing I hate more than drug addiction, it’s being controlled. That’s something I can’t and won’t abide.
Let it kill me.
As Etta James once sang, “I’m gonna break up all this signifyin’, somebody’s got to go!”