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.

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I’ve incorporated the core-affirming thoughts that I wrtoe about in my last blog into my running routine. Sometimes when I am running through this city, my mind drifts back to the things that I particularly don’t want to think about or perhaps would do better not to think about, like a lazy coworker, soemthing hurtful a friend or stranger may have said, the state of the world or the state of my wallet. These are allt hings that seem to take a toll, if overvalued on the whole person that I am because my focus becomes less on me without the externals and more on me made up of the things that bother me on the outside.

That said, harping online about the personal flaws in my thinking makes me feel a bit like a weakling, which I’m really not. I think everyone – from the smartest person in the world (which I am not) to the dumbest person in the world (which I’m not) fixates on externals. It’s just a matter of how well you can ignore them and not let them bother you. As annoying as they can be, I respect “bros” a bit because they are pretty cool with just saying “fuck it” about some of the defeating thoughts and project the tough, guy, ‘hell may care’ attitude. A pushover pussy I’m not, but neither am I a bro type.

I can’t tell. Perhaps I should, even at the old age of near 30, reinvent myself as a bro. Maybe it would preclude the need for c0re-affirming thoughts!

This morning I weighed myself at 183. Today is Ash Wednesday, the beginning of the month-and-a-half long period of introspection for Christians. I thought about if there was something I could abstain from for this period and the one thing I really thought of that may remind me I’m a human being is coffee. Though I don’t drink nearly as much of it as I used to, but still it’s something I drink a good deal of.

Not drinking it is a pretty small thing to abstain from, but one I felt reasonable and perhaps will help me a bit fitness wise.

I don’t think they had coffee back in Jesus’ day and I certainly don’t think they’d ever envision a time when people could simply have something steamy to drink in a disposable cup.

Thinking about all the coffee I drink, I realize that I must leave a landfill of paper waste behind each year.

Tonight we are supposed to have warm weather and I will be happy to get out for a run again. Last night was brutally cold and I was layered excessively. It feels like forever since it was even fall weather. As it stands, there are 22 days left of official winter and I am happy for that. The cold weather will likely stick around after that, but at least there’s a marker with which to use as a frame of reference that warmer days are coming.

I took this picture a few minutes after our first snowfall here in Albany back in mid November. Though we don’t have any snow on the ground right now, it feels like cold weather has been with us forever.

In the meantime, hopefully the coffee wont be hard. I’ve had to remind myself today twice, but I guess you just have to remind yourself and not make a big deal out of it.

We’ve had a few warm days in the Northeast before it became chilly again. Still, the streets and sidewalks are mostly clear here in Albany of snow and ice.

Last weekend I went on five and seven-mile runs. Two night this week, while the ice was melting, I went on smaller runs.

Yesterday I did a four-mile run and today I ran a five. It’s cold outside, but I’m happy that there is really only about a month of winter weather ahead of us. March in this part of Upstate New York isn’t exactly pleasant, but it’s not totally miserable either.

It feels good to be out running again as opposed to inside on a treadmill. It’s a good time to connect with myself and to listen to what my body is telling me. Still, I’m sure we’ll get some snow sooner or later and the sidewalks will be snowy and icy again. Meanwhile, I’m content with having been able to get out for some good runs.