Let’s get one thing straight. I do yoga. I even used to do a lot of yoga, and could probably do a little more yoga than I do now, but I still exercise regularly. I have many good habits. That said, I’m kind of in love with my Alprazolam. I even had a little thrill when it had a cameo on Dexter two seasons ago.
For those not in the know, Alprazolam is a generic for Xanax.
I do not come from a family that uses prescription drugs. With the rare exception, I’ve never used them except for the occasional antibiotic. I don’t even like the birth control pill.
I discovered the joys of Xanax from an ex-boyfriend who was all about prescription meds. He was the kind of person who had drawers full of them. I can’t remember when or why he gave me my first Xanax, but what do I remember is the infuriating way he would ration them to me. His prescription gave him bottles of over a hundred (with what seemed like unlimited refills), and he would only give me three or four pills in a little Ziploc bag for emergencies.
Still, one of the reasons I contemplated keeping him in my life was the access to this rationing.
But that wasn’t reason enough.
So I made an appointment with my doctor and nervously, sheepishly, requested my own prescription. To my shock and elation, it was totally NBD, and later that day, I was heading home from the drugstore with my very first Alprazolam in tow.
I was so enthused with the acquisition of my very own little pill bottle that I posted my accomplishment on Facebook — because we live in the age of oversharing (evidence: this blog).
I got mixed reactions. Most people were a combination of horrified, cautionary, or judgmental. Because clearly my newfound prescription meant I was just days away from a horrible and soul-destroying addiction, and that heroin was probably just around the corner.
A few other people, some publicly but most privately, told me that they appreciated my candor about not only my prescription, but, implicitly, my need for this prescription, aka my anxiety problem.
Both reactions struck me by surprise. The first, for the obvious reason that my friends know I’m a very healthy person and the odds of me being suckered into an Alprazolam addiction are slim to none. I don’t even drink coffee because I don’t like being beholden to any substance in order to function.
The second was more interesting. In our overly-medicated society, where increasing numbers of my students bring me disability notices informing me about their ADD and ADHD, and everyone seems to be on, or has been on, or knows someone who is on, an SSRI, I thought a Xanax prescription would be passé. So cute and naïve, look Dahlia finally popped her Xanax cherry. She’s so two thousand and late.
But, for some reason, Xanax rattled people. Or maybe it was me on Xanax? I don’t know. All I do know is that people didn’t like it. They encouraged me to try yoga or marijuana or a slew of other options, all of which they told me would work just as well (if not better).
But see, here’s the thing. When I’m having an anxiety moment, no amount of Ujjayi breathing or downdog is going to make a difference. And marijuana just makes me feel dumb and groggy. Xanax, on the other hand, moderates, and it moderates well.
Because sometimes life, for me, is on the extreme end of the spectrum. Sometimes the fear or anxiety or worry is too much. It consumes. And Xanax turns the dial down to a manageable level — for me. Yoga and downdog and marijuana and a warm cup of lavender tea might be all other people need, but sometimes I need chemical intervention. I need the volume turned down so it’s not rattling me from the inside out.
Is it uncool to admit this? In an age of SSRIs and ADHD and Ritalin and Wellbutrin, is simple anxiety somehow passé? Are we too intent on moderating our brains to worry about something as simple as moderating life? Or are we so intent, especially in LA, on homeopathic/holistic/healthy alternatives that choosing better living through chemistry demonstrates a fundamental weakness or failure?
To be honest, I don’t know, and I don’t really care. I still love my Xanax prescription.