In an ongoing attempt to get my anxiety under control this summer, I finally, at Heidi’s behest, went to see a psychiatrist. Ever since I went on Effexor, my family doctor has been handling my anti-anxiety meds. They’ve consisted of Effexor XR 225mg and as needed Ativan. When I say as needed Ativan, I mean that a bottle of 20 tablets lasts me 6-8 months, so it’s not like I’m using it tons. However, it just didn’t feel like that was the most effective way to handle this moving forward. Something had to change.
I talked to a friend who sees someone in Des Moines and got a name. It was a name that I recognized from work so I called up and, amazingly, got an appointment for the next week. That was yesterday. It was an interesting experience to say the least. The doctor that I saw is about my age and he’s a dude. He talked to me a lot about what I was on already, what I had been on. He talked to me about my symptoms, asked me to rate my mood, made sure I wasn’t suicidal (I wasn’t and am not), and then thrilled to the fact that because I’m a pharmacist because he could talk in jargon with me and I’d understand it.
We had three options.
- Increase the med I was currently taking.
- Taper off the med I’m on and try something new.
- Add something else.
We had a lot of good conversation about what he thinks is effective and what he doesn’t think is effective. What was especially cool is that he let me pick from those options by and large, nudging me along where he needed to. As a pharmacist, I’m very leery of the so-called “mood stabilizers” i.e., Zyprexa, Seroquel, Abilify. Those were all originally marketed for schizophrenic patients and, frankly, I think they are now being overprescribed for people without that. Not to say that they may not be effective, but it’s kind of like bringing a machine gun to a squirt gun fight
We ended up settling on increasing my Effexor dose, combined with a short term run of clonazepam, also known as Klonopin. Look at how cute those brand name Klonopin tablets are, with a little “K” punched out of the middle. Sadly, I don’t remember the last time I saw an actual brand name Klonopin tablet. In any event, we agreed that it might be a good idea to help get me through what’s been a very anxious summer while we wait for the increased dose of Effexor to kick in – likely to take 10-14 days.
Now I do not take the introduction of Klonopin lightly. It is, after all, the drug that ruined Stevie Nicks for 8 years. Fresh out of rehab and having kicked the cocaine habit in 1987, a psychiatrist prescribed her Klonopin to help calm her down and keep her from relapsing. What resulted was the loss of eight years of her life which, according to Stevie, could have resulted in her meeting someone, having a baby, and countless other things. She recorded Tango In The Night with Fleetwood Mac during that time, an album on which she barely appears and, according to Lindsey Buckingham, was only physically present for about 2 weeks of the 8 month recording time. Her next two solo albums, The Other Side of the Mirror and Street Angel, are subpar, sung in a flat voice with no real emotion. In 1993, she went into rehab again, this time to kick Klonopin, which took her 47 days and was worse than getting off cocaine.
Now, everyone’s experience is different. From the sounds of it, she didn’t need it in the first place and she certainly didn’t need to be on it for 8 years. Because I’m a pharmacist, I’m suspicious of any drug, knowing full well that there are side effects and that the drugs don’t just work at the site they are supposed to. That said, I’ve had 2 doses and I am sleeping better and I felt much more even (if a little tired) yesterday during a pretty busy day. Despite this, I’m already plotting how and when I can take myself off of this med. I will continue with it until my follow up appointment in 2 weeks, but I am super cognizant of the habit forming qualities of it and I’m just not wanting to go there at all. In all my years as a pharmacist, I’ve found that those that are hyperaware of the habit forming properties of drugs are the ones least likely to ultimately abuse them.
So far, my experience with Klonopin has been different from Stevie’s. Granted, it’s been 2 days and not 8 years, but I have a good feeling that this will get me over the hump to a place where I can start managing my anxious thoughts and feelings a little bit more effectively. God knows 2016 has been a shit year, but there’s lots I can do to make it better for me. Being off social media has helped a lot, although I did go look at it during Clinton’s convention speech because I was feeling left out.
Meanwhile, here’s Stevie reacting to my being on Klonopin.