This weekend as the UK was celebrating the Diamond Jubilee, Queen Elizabeth II’s 60 years on the throne, I was marking a far more important and crucial personal milestone: two months Klonopin-free! Woo hoo! It was exactly two months ago that I popped that 1 mg pill for the last time.
I’d like to say that it’s also been two months without panic attacks, but I’d be lying through my frequently clenched teeth. Unfortunately, I haven’t yet been able to shove that particular beast out the door completely. In fact, last night I had my worst one in months. Shortly after falling asleep, I woke up in absolute terror. I clutched my chest, certain that this was the big one, the heart attack that would do me in. For good.
I jumped out of bed and ran to the door, which, for some reason, is always where I go during middle-of-the-night anxiety episodes, as if that will somehow save my life. Next stop: the bathroom. I looked at myself in the mirror, staring at my face, looking for some sign of impending death. When I didn’t see it, calm slowly started to return. I looked at the clock by my bed. It was 4.07am. Needless to say, I wouldn’t be going back to sleep anytime soon.
I’m not sure what brought on this latest panic attack. I’ve been feeling a bit more anxious than usual over the course of the last week, but nothing that sent me jumping out of bed in the middle of the night, reeling, not until last night. Though I pretty much gave up on peaceful slumber, I was proud of myself for not only cheating death but getting through another panic episode unassisted.
Who was I kidding, though? If I hadn’t misplaced my stash of Klonopin in early April somewhere in my apartment, if that box had still been sitting where it used to, on the kitchen counter, would I have been able to resist? I suppose that I easily could have gone to BNH Hospital and gotten a new supply. Every time I walk by Convent Road, en route to or from Silom, or run by it, while jogging to Lumphini Park, I think about restocking up. But so far I’ve resisted the urge. Maybe that’s a victory in itself.
I suppose that I won’t consider this a certified triumph until I’ve banished the symptom as well as the treatment from my life. For a hypochondriac like me, someone who wakes up every morning and pretty much picks a body part to obsess over, that will be no small feat. And sometimes I do miss being able to play God with my feelings, as in being able to shut them off simply by waiting about an hour after popping a 1 mg pill.
The good news: I haven’t been living completely outside of that mental utopia. You may know the non-feeling — when all is right with the world, and even if it isn’t, you don’t care, because right here right now, you feel totally relaxed and unencumbered by an overactive mind. Some get there by booze, some by pills, and some entirely by chance. I can distinctly remember entering that carefree zone — via the latter route, of course — several times during the past two months. Maybe it was just a memory of what used to be under the influence of Klonopin, when I was deep in that K hole. Whatever it was, it seemed real, even if I’m not quite sure what I did to get there, if I did anything at all.
I’m not saying that I won’t someday cave to pressure from my dangerous anxiety-ridden mind and start up with Klonopin again. And if I do, it’s good to know that I can live without those 1 mg pills, even if only on a month-by-month basis. I may never win the war, not as long as I think about them, write about them, wake up in the throes of panic wondering what the hell happened to that missing box of them. But yes, this is a victory. And small as it might be, it’s all mine.