When I was going through my custody battle, and I was the poster girl for High Anxiety, I relied on a lovely little benzo called Klonopin to get me through the night, two nights per week. Sleeping pills made me wonky, Melatonin did nada, but Klonopin gently beckoned me into a slumber that lasted the whole night.
Klonopin is addictive, so my psychiatrist told me I could only take it twice a week. For whatever reason, Klonopin has a residual effect of giving me a good night’s sleep one and even two nights after taking it. In other words, if I take one Monday, I still sleep well Wednesday. Then by the time Friday rolls around, and I sense I’ll have trouble sleeping, I take another one and I’m good till Monday.
Although the custody battle is over, theoretically — one never knows if Prince might want to file a bunch of OSCs, just for kicks — I still find that I need my friend Mr. Klonopin twice a week. Call it perimenopause. Call it divorce PTSD. Call it a fruit bowl of middle-aged worries sitting on my head. Whatever — I just end up taking it twice a week.
So the last time I called my pharmacy for a refill, I got a call from my psychiatrist, chiding me for going 16 months without an appointment. He would not give me more refills until I paid him a visit.
* * *
I sat in his elegantly appointed office, with its panoramic view and its Eames chairs and its contemporary art wall hangings, and I felt much less mentally ill than I had before I walked in.
He asked me the usual shrink questions about stressors and when I was finished, he eyed me incredulously and said: “It’s remarkable you’re holding up as well as you are.”
I hate when people tell me shit like that. My whole life, people have told me how strong I am, and it totally pisses me off. It pisses me off because it’s FALSE. It sounds like code for “you’re screwed,” or “better you than me!” It also makes me feel like I’ll disappoint people if I crumple into a momentary heap, therefore I need to keep seeming stronger than I feel.
He asked me some more questions, about diet, sleep, what I enjoy, and do I drink?
“A glass of red wine every night,” I said.
He glanced at me over his spectacles. I thought he was going to tell me I couldn’t drink wine on the nights that I took Klonopin. But instead he said:
He shrugged. “I think so.”
I was expecting something a little more professional, along the lines of antioxidants or GABA or a study of Sicilian villagers who all lived to be 105 because they bathed in olive oil and drank red wine every night.
But all he said was:
“Red wine is good for you. One glass a day. Keep it up. Just don’t drink it too close to bedtime.”
So I do. And I don’t.
Got a favorite red wine label? Leave it below!
Lucy Pritzker says
Always love your posts. Add “God wouldn’t give you more than you can handle” to the list of stupid shit people say!
Another good one!
Have you ever tried meditation as part of your self-help cocktail?
Sandy White says
Oh how those words resonate with me too…”you’re so strong”…what the hell, am I supposed to do, stand there and melt in a pile of tears! Sink or swim honey. So try a lovely glass of Falesco Vitiano Rosso…deep red, smooth, a tiny bit fruity and affordable at around $10 to toast all us strong ones!
Thanks for the suggestion! I’ll try that.
Thanks for the suggestion! I’ll try that.
lisa thomson says
I agree! A day without wine is a day without sunshine. One of my favorite reds is a Chilean, Santa Carolina Cabernet Sauvignon Reserva.
I’ll try it — thanks!
Coppola Cab or Coppola Claret
Texas Expat says
Great post, Pauline, and totally agree: I grew up with my own share of crises and am actually now going through yet another (family) crisis and people’s reactions–family, friends, strangers–has never varied from the time I was a kid: ‘Gosh, you’re so STRONG! You’re so get, such a STRONG survivor!’ etc etc etc… I felt furious as a kid and am furious now: it’s simly selfish, narcissistic, self-indulgent BS so as not to become involved or have to take care of someone else. Instead, have ME take care of others (as, unfortunately, has always been the case)!
Agreed — I think it can be something people say when they feel overwhelmed. Kind of gets them off the hook from helping. Which is fine when it comes from acquaintances, but not so great when it comes from family.
Gabi Coatsworth says
I knew there was something wrong with me…I keep forgetting to have that glass of wine.
I recently found Côtes du Rhône Parallele 45, which I think is pretty decent for an inexpensive wine.
I had a psychiatrist tell me Xanax or a nightly drink. Whichever you prefer.
Thank you for your blog – I enjoy your writing tremendously. Three of my favorite red wines:
Malbecs from Argentina
Anything from Châteauneuf du Pape
Guenoc Petite Sirah
Thanks for the suggestions, Libby!
What’s a good way to tell a strong woman in a hard situation that you admire her?
“I’m really sorry you’re going through all that and I wish I had answers for you. I admire your grace under pressure.” — something like that.
I loved the book “I Don’t Know How She Does It” simply because it sheds light on the fact that when people say that, they don’t really mean it as a compliment. Like you mentioned, it’s more of a “better you than me” or perhaps, “I don’t know WHY she does it.” I get tired of the pity that’s associated with it.
I am such a redneck when it comes to wine, and oh how I hate to admit that. I like sweet wines, and that usually means no red wine. I’m sure that I could work on acquiring a taste for it, but I don’t. Instead, I take a Xanax every so often for sleep. Similar to Klonopin, it lasts longer than just the one night for me. Perhaps it’s because it keeps me relaxed long enough to turn off my brain. I’m afraid of it, though, so I ration it like it’s gold. Of course, if I’m truthful, I’m also afraid of wine or anything alcoholic. The nice residual effects of living with an alcoholic. I went to the opposite end of the spectrum.
I have terrible news for you. Clonaz 2ce a week and then ‘magically’ you feel like you will have trouble sleeping if you don’t take it. Guess what. Clonaz is almost alcohol, in pill form, and even as little as twice a week can cause addiction. Like with alcohol ‘binge’ drinking (IE. not every day use, but not long enough for the benzo to leave your system) causes addiction. It’s called rekindling.
Don’t believe me? Okay but consider this: I’ve taken it for 21 years and I’ve read pretty much everything about it and have gone through clonaz withdrawals, have done it every day for many years and also been stuck in the ‘once every few days’ cycle, where I THOUGHT I wasn’t addicted.
I use to believe taking it once a week would be fine, twice would PROBABLY be fine, and three times would be pushing it. I have no reassessed my belief to, taking it roughly every four to 5 days, is definitely enough to make you dependent.
If you go really deep into the research you’ll learn that the minimum amount of time for clo to leave your system is 13 days. MINIMUM. And it’s unfathomably addicting. Withdrawal is a nightmare hell.
What you’re describing even though you don’t know it, is a mini withdrawal you’re having when you ‘sense’ you won’t sleep.
The ‘magical reason’ it helps you sleep is because it takes over many important sleep mechanisms, and makes your body WORSE at doing those things itself. When/if you quite you will have insomnia problems that you’ve probably never had before, and you will have to pray pretty hard they aren’t long lasting, if not permanent (We don’t know if that’s possible yet but some cases aren’t looking good for that one, I pray it’s possible for the brain to recover fully because my own future self depends on it.)
Also, doctors know NOTHING about it, they spend something like 90 minutes studying sleeping meds in their entire 7 years. I’ve met no doctors in person who truly understand clonaz in full, it’s properties etc. Only a small handful of doctors in the WORLD know how to properly get people off of them, etc.
So yah, because I don’t have the time to explain everything or source everything you’ll have to do some deep research on your own if you’re skeptical but the truth is anyone who comments and disagrees with me doesn’t know what they are talking about, and it only takes a bit of medical searching online to find that out.
Don’t listen to anyone whose just read 1 article and pretends to be an expert. And if you want to get off of it, research the life out of how to do it properly. If you’re doctor is good, you can discuss it, but if you have even the SLIGHTEST doubt about your doctors understanding of the drug, do NOT tell your doctor if you decide to get off the drug, instead do a super duper duper slow taper as per the instructions you’ll find on the best medical sites, the few ones that actually know what they’re talking about, and the reason not to tell your doctor is because if you fail or need to go back on it, many doctors will not give it back to you so you’re better off saying nothing because clonaz withdrawal is torture – not an exaggeration it’s actual torture.
This is NOT an exaggeration. When I say torture I mean it. Like PTSD mean it.
DivorcedMoms Staff says
“the truth is anyone who comments and disagrees with me doesn’t know what they are talking about, and it only takes a bit of medical searching online to find that out.” Really? So, if a doctor or pharmacist disagreed with you they wouldn’t know what they were talking about? Clonazepam is not a sleeping medication. It’s a benzodiazepine. Clonazepam/Klonopin treats many disorders…tremors, anxiety, vertigo, Tardive Dyskinesia, seizure. I’ve taken .5mg daily for nearly 15 years for the treatment of vertigo caused by Meniere’s disease. It treats a condition I suffer from and treats it well. Anyone can become addicted to Klonapin if they abuse the medication. There is a problem with the drug abuser, not the drug. If the drug is taken as prescribed the user isn’t going to have the issues you speak of. I am dependent upon Klonopin and if I could no longer take it I would suffer withdrawal symptoms just like with so many other meds. Here is the thing, though, it’s a medication that does a great job when taken for what it is prescribed. If I had taken it for anxiety, I would have known to only take it short-term. Since I have a disease that has no cure I have to take it long-term and will continue to do so with no problem. You can’t choose to continue to take a medication you know is addictive and then blame the medication because you became addicted.
Also should have mentioned this: Drinking alcohol can make your addiction to benzos worse. If you drink every day and then take clonaz, you’re raising your addiction to either one because they are EXTREMELY cross tolerant.
That’s why when you quit alcohol you can REPLACE it with a benzo and feel little to no withdrawals, and probably vice-versa.
So if you drink every night but take your benzo (clonaz) twice a week, it’s the exact same as taking your clonaz every single day, they are THAT cross tolerant. That’s a possible recipe for physical dependence.