Now you might think that after experiencing a seizure violent enough to dislocate my jaw and break my back in two places that I would want to quit these pills. You’d also think that the Dr. might have started asking a few fucking questions as to why in the hell his patient just fell out on the floor and was rushed to the hospital. But neither of these things occurred. As far as quitting the pills, the experience had the exact opposite effect on me. I vowed to NEVER run out again. I accepted my life sentence and that quitting the medication meant either seizures, death, or insanity. I knew my tolerance was going to keep going up and up, which meant I was just going to have to make more money and buy them off the street when my prescription ran out from the doctor. I had already been doing this for years anyway. Not because I was a “drug seeking junkie”, but because my body became physically dependent in less than a week of taking this medication as prescribed.
So the cycle continued. There were countless mornings waking up and frantically counting my pills to make sure I had enough to get through until payday. I would always have to time my doses just right so that the relaxing effects would take place just as I would walk in the door for work (usually about 10 minutes late.) There countless trips to the bathroom during my shift to take another pill to fight off the withdrawal effects. Oh the withdrawal effects....I’ll cover that in more detail later.
There were many weeks where I had a busy week planned for myself but there was no way I had enough pills to last and get me through all these activities. If I wanted to go on a date or see a friend after work, that meant I would have to take more pills, and if I took more pills I wouldn’t have enough to get through the rest of the work week. So I had to sacrifice any life after work because I couldn’t afford to take any more pills than necessary. I would get through my shift and as the doom from the inter dose withdrawals started to creep up on me, I would skateboard to the liquor store and buy the cheapest vodka they had; Skol to be exact. From there I would skate home to my apartment, shut myself in my room and try to drink away the pain of the pill withdrawals (which was rarely a success).
This cycle went on for years. There was no hope of ever becoming a “somebody”. There were no goals or dreams. There were no career aspirations or family vacations or any traveling plans whatsoever. It was only the pills and survival. Many nights I would call the suicide hotline while drunk and cry, desperately trying to explain to the nice lady that I KNEW I was meant for big things. I KNEW that I could be somebody. But the cold hard truth was that there was absolutely no way I could escape my prescription dungeon.
And then it happened. I hit rock bottom. It wasn’t the seizure, it wasn’t the countless (literally countless) jobs I had lost. It wasn’t the friendships I had destroyed along with any sliver of self respect. It wasn’t the 50 days stuck in jail going through cold turkey withdrawals, never leaving my bunk. It wasn’t being found face down in the Santa Fe river, passed out from swallowing too may of the damn pills. It wasn’t waking up in random bathroom stalls not knowing how I had got there. It wasn’t waking up one morning and having my friend tell me that I had threatened suicide the night before and cops had arrived to make sure I was still alive. (I remembered none of that) Nope, it wasn’t any of those horrendous occasions. It was an afternoon that I remember vividly. The sun was shining, the birds were chirping, and I had just been released from the ER yet again. (I would always skate to the ER when I ran out of my script and none were available around town). I was supposed to be at work in 30 minutes and the ativan the hospital had provided me wasn’t doing the trick. Neither were the swigs of vodka. Nothing was calming me down. I realized that even if I got myself together enough to go to work, I still wouldn’t have enough to get through the next day and I would just wind up back in the hospital. This was it. I accepted defeat. My life was completely unmanageable. I had been trying for almost 6 years to make life work on this medication but I inevitably ALWAYS ran out and would lose everything I had been working toward in the process. I was a hopeless drug addict. Accidental or not, I was hopeless.
I knew that quitting these pills very well could mean death, seizures, or loss of any resemblance to sanity. I knew that quitting these pills wasn’t just going to be a week or so of vomiting and then boom, I was all better... No.... I knew the darkness and despair that came with benzo withdrawal. I knew that if I was to check myself into detox and get off these damn things, that I was basically knocking on hell’s door and asking for a special seat at the table right next to Lucifer. (Yes, that’s how bad the withdrawals are.)
But it had to be done...