Yesterday, I wrote a little bit about being a mindful observer of my anger. This morning – its’ 5:30 a.m. and I hardly slept – I realize that part of what I was experiencing was the side effect of withdrawal from about a month or so of steadily taking Klonopin.

For a decent part of eight years, I’ve been prescribed this medication to treat anxiety. When I was 21 and the panic and other anxiety disorders that had been largely sporadic in episodes  in my brain began to worsen, it was the yellow pills that helped to bring my mind into some balance. I’ll never forget the night in my apartment in Boston after more than a week of intense anxiety that I took one of these pills. It had been prescribed to me earlier in the day by a Chinese psychiatrist (no, not like some ancient medicinal root). She warned me that it was addictive so it would need to be managed well. When I finally did take it ours later, I noticed an effect within minutes. My brain, which had largely been in overdrive for days, seemed to slow down to a managable pace. I felt a bit more control. At the time, I had no idea that was the same drug a lot of people use to cut loose.

Over the past eight years, I have taken it on and off, but rarely night after night for more than a week. Since early June I was laying on it more than I should have for sleep and to relieve stresses that I normally can handle just through breathing or doing something I am about to do in a a few minutes, which is to go for a run. Klonopin was more helpful for me during times of intense panic that came night after night or in relaxing on an airplane. Though I have been prescribed a daily dosage, I’ve never taken it that way until recently.  So, beginning a few days ago, I began to taper back until yesterday, when I took literally one quarter of a pill.

Last night was an awful night in some senses and I think it was because of my body perhaps saying to me, “what the fuck, man go take some!”

I slept fitfully, and experienced two very frightening dreams. I also woke up in a panic at one point. Combined, although I laid down at 10 p.m. feeling restless, I slept on and off for probably a combined five hours. At one point I got up and turned on my computer to play a simulation baseball game I have. I had trouble thinking straight, though and my lineups made little sense (my players did perform very well though!). After a shower and some stretching, I put on a familiar song list on iTunes and ran my photos on a slideshow. I drifted off somewhere between Emmylou Harris singing “Sweet Dreams” and Ray Price and Willie Nelson singing “Soft Rain”. Still, I’m up early, but tired. I have little doubt this is my body’s response to not having the little yellow pill!

I want to only take it for flights and extreme panic attacks that keep me up. Like recently, when I finally ditched taking Ambien, I’ll go through some withdrawal, I’m sure. Right now, I’m going to put my sneakers on and head out for a run to see if that helps. After all, I’ve got a big day of work ahead of me and need all the calm I can get. Just not from a yellow pill.