I haven’t needed an emergency Ativan in a long time. But I’m on a baseline blood level of benzodiazepines, so that probably helps.
. . .
Jack Laurent Zimmermann, age 25. Dark hair, blue eyes, ass for days. Overdosed on anxiety medication when he was 18.
This is what we know about him from the archives of Check, Please! We actually get a lot more about him than most authors give their mentally interesting characters. He has a history at all, and it’s directly addressed. Things stay murky about how he functions now, which interests me. Canon doesn’t specify how he deals with his anxiety disorder now, especially when he’s heading into a high-stress situation.
We don’t hear about a therapist, for example. Maybe he had the same treatment I did in that respect: short-term CBT/DBT and you’re out on the street. Maybe the point of that kind of therapy is to teach you how to do it for yourself forever, so you don’t have to go back. And sure, that works for some people. Jack has a lot to process. At 25 I had more.
We don’t see him taking medication. Could be that’s just not interesting enough to show. Ngozi only has so many frames per comic. I can’t imagine any sensible doctor releasing him from that hospital, after that OD, without at least a maintenance dose of an SSRI. I keep hearing about SSRIs helping anxiety disorders and all I can say is I hope they’re right, because the same sensible doctors probably don’t know anything about pseudoaddiction, so of course they wouldn’t put him on anything more habit-forming.
We see him putting the anxiety in his past. Do people actually get to do that?
. . .
What I imagine is this, when I read that comic about his past.
I imagine he kept upping the dose not because it was fun but because life was unbearable otherwise. I can believe he craved relief and didn’t know how to ask for it. Jack at seventeen isn’t a nerd who collects outdated medical texts. Not like I was. All right. Am. So he won’t know how to look up his own meds. He won’t teach himself what that first prescriber withheld (shhh, just take this, once a night, keep it with you if you have to).
Whatever he’s taking, the chemical name doesn’t cross his lips. Only the pills.
He won’t know it’s too late until he’s lying there half-dead.
. . .
My dad tells me there are ways to withdraw safely and comfortably. Slowly, though, when it’s benzos. I want to trust him. I do. I’m just not high enough up on the stuff that anyone believes I’d have trouble. Even if I felt like trying, at this point I would need pills large enough to divide into eighths. 1mg tablets do not come in that size. The difference between 1.5mg and 1.25 is more than most people can fathom, but they don’t know how sensitive I am to medication. They weren’t there when missing just one low dose early on sent me spiraling into an all-night attack.
They’re not here when I get palpable relief from .25mg more of Klonopin, either. Not the kind of relief that stops me having to work at calm with my brain. Just enough to keep me alive. Nobody realizes that the ultimate suicide trigger is anxiety for me. If I were only depressed, I could fight it. I have fought it. No, I live with fear as my shadow, and you can’t outrun your shadow. All you can do is wait for high noon.
I know what I would trade for my freedom. The shorter that list gets, I suppose, the healthier I must be.
. . .
I know what it’s like to be that far gone.
I know what it’s like not to want to come back.
I wonder if these things are a part of his narrative, too.