Mom was on Vicodin. Well, mom was also on xanax. For 11 years.
I wrote about being on xanax in my last post- and I brought it up because, while I struggle with pain and pain killers- I also struggled with benzos. Before I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia (at 33), I was diagnosed as a frazzled young mother. Yes- at 24 I had two boys under the age of 4 and I spent all of my time taking care of them. Feeding them, washing their laundry, cleaning up after them, teaching them, playing with them, bathing them, going to story time, going to the park, and that doesn’t include taking care of a puppy and being the best wife I could possibly be.
Now – to some people what I just described sounds like the easiest job ever. And maybe to the “Bree Van De Camps” of the world it is.But I was running myself ragged. I wasn’t taking care of myself. I never sat down to eat. I had to make sure my boys were fed nutritious meals ( and for years, breastfed). I had to make sure they had clean clothes and a clean home. I didn’t realize that I was only drinking a few sips of juicy juice a day. Teaching my boys beyond the basic fundamentals (Baby Einstein helped with that), finger painting, listening to Chopin and Mozart, etc, took priority over me. But doesn’t that happen with most new mothers?
Well, at 5’8 I weighed 103 pounds. I ate handfuls of whatever when I could. And I didn’t think twice about it. I didn’t even notice I had the body of Kate Moss without trying. It wasn’t until my husband told me I needed to see my doctor because I was constantly getting irritable and feeling faint on a daily basis. I thought I was hypoglycemic and that was why I felt the way I did. So I packed up the boys and off to the doctor we went.
She was my new doctor. With one look at me and watching me try to control my babies in the exam room, I was handed a prescription for xanax. Mothers NEW little helper. At first I didn’t really take the xanax. I wasn’t a pill popper. I wasn’t a drinker and I sure as hell wasn’t a drug user (unless you count weed. After their bedtime was my time to smoke a bowl a relax while watching Greys Anatomy). Eventually, I began taking the xanax. A quarter milligram a day made me feel like my life wasn’t so chaotic.
Fast forward a few years and I was up to 1 mg once a day. Not because my kids were driving me mad but because my marriage was struggling. He worked 15 hour days and I was struggling with being alone. Doing everything alone. Even my family and friends were a good 30 min drive away. Then somewhere along the way our marriage broke up. My doc upped my script to 90 – 1 mg a month. I began taking them to block out the pain of our break up. I also started going out (for the first time as single woman). I was scared. I was nervous. Boys were buying me drinks and asking me out. Getting married at 18 didn’t let me have those rebellious years to get out of my system. So I downed my xanax and headed to the bar with my girlfriends.
What a fucking great idea. Combining benzos with alcohol. But the xanax was prescribed. So it couldn’t be bad for me. Right?
Fast forward another few years and I have met a man I thought was my “soulmate”. I moved in with him 45 minutes away from where I had been staying and planned on brining my boys to live with us. But that never happened. My benzo dependency had grown due to depression of not having my boys every day and my relationship with soulmate became volatile.I was also drinking more than I ever had. All the while my doctor kept giving me xanax. My life was becoming a mess- I just didn’t realize it.
Me and the not so much my soulmate broke up and my benzo addiction was to the point that if I didn’t take at least 2 mg when I woke up I got sick. I would get the shakes and feel as though I was going to seize. My drinking didn’t help the matter either. This pattern would continue for another few years. Because I needed it. I had anxiety. I needed it.
Finally, January of 2016 I ended up in hospital (not the first time) for drinking and taking xanax and god only knows what else I had put in my system to numb myself. my new doctor took me off xanax cold turkey. She also took me off the klonopin I had been prescribed. Yes, I was prescribed 60 1mg xanax/month (the amount monthly was lowered due to the taking of klonopin) and 30 2mg klonopin/month. Now I had been hoarding pills – so luckily I was able to ween myself off. It was horrible. Cutting back drastically, feeling sick, having the shakes, my mental state was all kinds of fucked up. I’m still livid that a doctor would cut me off such addictive controlled substances without help- but after a few months I was able to successfully stop taking xanax. It was the hardest thing I ever had to do.
Xanax isn’t a drug to fuck around with. The withdrawal is horrendous. Beside the withdrawal, the drug changes your brain and it takes time to heal from the chemical brain damage it causes from long term use. My doctors never talked to me about that. They also never tried to ween me off of it either.
Today I can say I no longer feel the need to take xanax. But how many other moms out there will go through what I did? How many people will go to their doc for help and become addicted? How many will combine the drug with another drug or alcohol or both and never wake up? The universe had other plans for me, but not everyone will be that blessed. I can’t even imagine my boys living on this earth without me- or having to grow up with a mother who slipped into a coma because of pharmaceuticals she took trying to control an addiction.
And to think, it all started because I was a young mother.