The miracle of Xanax


I have spoken before about my use of brain medicine: specifically, that I take a daily pill that makes me just a bit calmer and more – well, human.

But wait! There’s more!

Long before I went on my current medication – back around 2000 – I was going through a rough patch: a stressful period at work, my mother’s illness and death. I talked to my doctor, and he gave me a wonderful little prescription for alprazolam, also known as Xanax. The prescription reads (to this day): “Take one to three tablets daily, as needed.”

Over the last twelve years, I have availed myself of this medication, as needed.

Xanax, when used correctly, is wonderful. It creates perspective. You know, when you’re worried about something, how it becomes obsessive and nasty and threatening? Xanax takes the threat away. You’re confronting the same problem, but without the accompanying angst. You can look at the world calmly, without freaking out.

The problem, of course, is that you really can’t take it every day. It’s not a narcotic, but it’s addictive in its own way; you begin to rely on it. I’ve always tried not to take it more than two days in a row.

Since 2010, when my doctor prescribed the Wonder Drug Citalopram, I have not used Xanax much. I was worried, at first, that they might interact and send me into a coma. “No,” my doctor reassured me. “They don’t work that way. You can take both in the same day.”

I actually tried, one day, just to see. He was right. Nothing happened.

Lately, I’ve been having some stress. Nothing world-shattering, but it’s been making me nervous and cranky.  So I dipped into the Xanax reserves again.

Oh my! I’d forgotten how it felt!

I took one just the other day, at seven-thirty in the morning, anticipating a tense active day. By eight I was Jesus and Gandhi in one cheerful package, and I think I could easily have cured scrofula with a touch of my hand. The day passed in a glow of benevolence. “You know,” my student assistant Gunnar said around four forty-five in the afternoon, “you were in a really good mood today.”

“I confess,” I said. “I took something this morning.”

“Muscle relaxer?” he asked.

Brain relaxer,” I said.

He laughed explosively. He wasn’t expecting that.

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