Wednesday, January 23, 2008

personal biology

This is a random post with no real point.

About four years ago, I was deep in the throes of violent rapid-cycling and agitated depression and mixed states. I wouldn't wish it on anyone. Part of the problem stemmed from the fact that I had been prescribed an SSRI, a class of drug that we now know didn't help the depression and made my brain go into fits and spasms of manic overload.

The stress of trying to manage myself was killing me. To make matters worse, I was battling a soul-sucking, almost humiliating problem at work. It was sending me over the edge and my response to all of this Every night I would have a glass of wine, which eventually became two, which became a half-bottle or more. I realize now that this was a desperate attempt at self-medicating something that hadn't yet been identified fully.

I drank a lot but still got up every morning and went to work with my jumping-bean brain going 100 miles per hour. Eventually I added .5mg of Xanax to the mix. This slowed me down and helped me sleep a little, but otherwise left me unscathed. Benzos and alcohol--a classic combination.

Once my diagnosis was straightened out and my medication was prescribed with therapeutic intentions, I stopped drinking almost entirely and didn't need Xanax anymore. Yesterday was an exception. The whole thing with the cat left me so rattled, I took a dab of Xanax before we left the house for the animal hospital. It was only .25mg of time-released alprazolam, and a few hours later I had a generous glass of white wine with dinner.

Less than an hour after dinner, I fell asleep on the couch. Maybe fell asleep doesn't really describe my condition. I felt as if someone had pinned me down and paralyzed my body and brain. My breathing was shallow. It was like being incredibly drunk but without the stomach distress or headache. I was incapacitated.

I thought about it today because I wondered how the same body that let me go through my day unscathed by a liberal mix of benzos and alcohol could no longer tolerate the very idea of such behavior. It gave me pause. What if I took a full 1mg dose of Xanax and drank a half-bottle of wine now? Would I require medical attention? Would I become comatose? How long would I be unconscious? What changed within my body to so radically affect my tolerance for this chemical mixture?

I would make a terrible troubled rock star.

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