Not An Addict, Just Addicted
(page 2)While I certainly don't advocate my behavior, it just shows how desperate I was to get that blunt feeling—to, essentially, stop feeling so anxious and terrible. I was terrified to leave the house, terrified to fall asleep, terrified to do anything. When I was finally able to get a refill, I opened the bottle on the subway, took the pill out and slipped it under my tongue. Twenty minutes and one milligram of Ativan later, I was completely relieved. I was safe again.
I write this essay with one lone Ativan sitting in a pillbox in my bag. One hundred and nineteen others were once in the pillbox; about 10 of those were cut in half at the beginning of the month when I decided that it was time to taper down. Last month, I went from one milligram to .5 to .25 in the span of about 10 days.
A few days ago, I stopped taking Ativan entirely. I am in withdrawal once again. The worst part of withdrawal, for me, is the shame that comes with the feeling of being out of control—of letting your body need something so badly that it gets sick. I can't talk about my withdrawal with anyone. It makes me feel like an addict. But does it even matter whether or not I am? The body and brain doesn't know and doesn't particularly care. It wants what it’s used to.
For right now, all I can do is ignore how awful I feel and get through the day. All the physical symptoms are back. There's the shaking—sometimes my fingers, sometimes the sides of my mouth. There's the burning in my fingers and jolts of pain shooting up my leg. The dizziness that kicked this all off is back. I wake up in a panic in the middle of the night, once again consumed by a fear of seizures.
But there's some good news, too. In between all of this, I'm waking up from the fog of being essentially tranquilized for over two years. I'm starting to have glimpses of what life was like before I ever became the kind of person who had to slip a pill under her tongue on the subway.
But still, the single pill remains in my bag. It's there in case I need it.
Maria Diaz is a writer based out of Oakland, California. Her work has appeared in numerous online publications including xoJane, and she currently dissects reality television at RealityTea and WetPaintTV.