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X is for Xanax


Disclaimer


The following article shares my personal perspective on benzodiazepines, shaped by my own experience. Please note that my view is biased, and this content isn't a replacement for professional medical advice. It's crucial not to disregard medical treatment without consulting healthcare professionals. If you're considering any changes or have concerns, always seek guidance from qualified professionals who can provide personalized advice based on your unique situation.


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A few years ago, shortly after the pandemic hit, I sat in a doctor's office, looking pale from the exhaustion my body had experienced weeks before. Despite appearing healthy on paper, my doctor assumed, 'It must be all in my head.' So, I left that autumn day with a pack of benzodiazepines in one hand and the diagnosis 'Burnout' in the other. In hindsight, I can say that I definitely needed a break from the work environment, but when it comes to the treatment, I still have my concerns.


Xanax and other benzodiazepines can be advantageous for acute anxiety, and short-term use may offer relief, but prolonged usage increases the risk of tolerance and addiction. Some individuals may experience side effects, such as weight gain or sexual dysfunction.


Raised on herbs rather than pills due to an unpleasant family history of drug misuse, I was aware of the risks. So, I avoided it until a later check-up when my doctor insisted I better take it to 'function for work.' Still unconvinced, I just took a quarter, believing that being a grown-up meant 'functioning in a pandemic.' Then the magic began.


For two weeks, I experienced the most peaceful and focused state of mind. I felt like I was finally my ideal self, as the mental chatter disappeared completely. However, disassociation crept in shortly, prompting me to question who I truly was without it.


I drew constantly for hours, engaging in my own created art therapy to release piled-up feelings. I became 'functional for work' but also found myself trying to stop a fight between two violent men, something I wouldn't normally do. Simultaneously, I came across a study suggesting that fish exposed to these medications may exhibit reduced fear levels or heightened boldness in the face of threats. I felt like this fish. So, I stopped. I never finished the package but kept it for over three years in my pocket 'just in case' I did not 'function' again.


Fortunately, my experience with it was short, but its captivatingly soothing effects still haunt me to this day. It may not reflect someone else's experience, as I know it helps some people. The stigma and fear around specific medications are not helpful for those who really need them. However, I am amazed that alternative therapies, lifestyle changes, or psychotherapy were not even considered. Medical interventions can be crucial, but I wish for comprehensive information on both benefits and risks, coupled with a holistic approach in healthcare.



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