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Updated: Dec 21, 2022

Do you know how when you awaken, and your brain wakes up before the rest of your body does. That is what happened to me the next morning. I was lying in bed, and I could only think, with much relief, that the whole incident had been a dream. When I tried to open my eyes, however, one eye was completely swollen over and closed completely, and I could only open the other eyelid half of the way up my eye. I then tried to open my mouth and I could only open it a small amount.

I then moved my body, and a groan came out of my barely opened mouth. I made it to the mirror in the bathroom and witnessed an unrecognizable reflection staring back at me. My nose was broken and shifted off to the side of my face and my eyes and my mouth were both horribly swollen and barely worked. Every part of my face looked like I hugely bruised and swollen prune hanging on top of my shoulders.

I spent the next several days lying in bed and having friends visit, who delivered me food and fed me spoons full of soup or noodles. My friends from college saved me after that horrible night. Some of my friends wanted to get revenge, but I stopped even the thought of that happening. I was badly beaten and could have easily been killed, but I didn’t want a fight starting between my college friends and gang members. I didn’t want any more of my friends to get hurt.

For the next two weeks, I began to get better, but I still had a massive amount of swelling after two weeks and the whites of my eyes were blood red. I felt like an overused pinata at a Cinco de Mayo parade. I eventually got better physically, but I didn’t know that I was going to face the most miserable and mysterious enemy that I would ever come in contact with, and I didn’t know how to defeat it.

I could not drive after such a brutal head injury, so I walked the five blocks for my work each day. Then I started to feel the fear that engulfed every part of my being. One example that was the first weird thing to affect me was that I had to hide behind a tree whenever a car came toward me or was coming up from behind me. I was engulfed in a panic and fear that was so strong that I thought that I was going to have to quit going to school and become a hermit. Everything changes on that dreadful evening right before Christmas.

No doctors could give me an answer on what was happening to me and the massive amounts of worry and fear that were overwhelming me. A large group of students knew about what had happened to me and I was a walking billboard for the violence that I had gone through when the new semester began. Everyone seemed to want to speak with me and I found this to be extremely claustrophobic. I had two more years of college left and the attacks would envelope me every day at different times. Luckily, I was bright enough that I never actually went to class. I would thoroughly read the book for the course, would borrow notes from other classmates and only go into the class to take the tests. Thank God that attendance no longer was needed in my college courses.

I tried extensively to get help for whatever it was that I was going through. Doctors ran me through every test in the book and found nothing wrong with me except an ulcer that I had gotten from having massive panic attacks. I was still in my early 20’s and I seemed to be completely broken. However, I did find one thing that would help me, and I was reintroduced to my old friend alcohol. When I drank, I would not constantly worry or be fearful over the smallest, daily anxieties that I would come across. I felt like my old self again. So self-medicating became a huge part of my life.

My family did not know what to do either. I had graduated college with degrees in History and Political Science. We also still had a family farm that was out in the middle of nowhere of Montana. The nearest small town was seven miles away. They shipped me out there to go to work and keep me away from whatever it was that was plaguing me. However, this also allowed me to drink more extensively as there is not a problem if nobody is around to witness it.

Then the doctors finally found a pill that they thought was perfect for me. This miracle drug was named Xanax, and they wanted me to take 1 mg tablets, 3 times per day. This new pill really left me feeling out of it and I did not like it for many years. I also did not want to mix any of these pills with any alcohol, so I tried to live my life without them. I did have to take them, but only during dire times when panic was controlling me. That is what I believe is what I fear most, the loss of control. However, I strive to find choices to make me lose that precious control feeling into having a more laid-back attitude. I am a conundrum.

I knew that I had to leave this lifestyle. I felt almost strangled by it. I wanted to be living among other younger people and living my life in an extroverted way. I needed to find myself and my own path once again. That is what Xanax and even alcohol offered to me. I didn’t have the strength before, but they allowed me to go out into the world and try to find my calling. In my 30’s, I finally left the family farm and went to work in the city. I have since told myself and my family though, I still don’t berate alcohol because I truly don’t believe that I would have lived through my 20’s without the use of it and spending time with my friends.

That is not what a lot of people want anyone to say, but it is the truth. In the long run, the alcohol was bad for me, but then, it felt like salvation to me. I thought that I had it under control at the time. Abstinence may be the answer for a lot of people, but the main lesson that people need to abide by is moderation. Do not let it start to control your life.

I went on to have a very good career as a sales manager and marketer for ten years. I would have a 1 mg Xanax pill in the morning to get through my day at work, and then would go out and visit with my friends and drink beer every evening. I still thought that I had this world under control at this time and I had never felt in a more confident and positive way in my life.

I had rented the upstairs of my house to another friend of a friend, and he lived there for nine years. In that time frame, we became the best of friends. We had a lot in common and I would often go up and visit him to just talk about the state of the world or he would come down to my living quarters and would do the same thing. Of course, we always drank together when we did this.

One evening, he had not shown up for work in a day’s time and his co-workers came to the house to find him. I ran up the stairs and found him dead on the floor of his apartment. He was 46 years old and had died from a massive heart attack. This really threw me for a loop and that is the point that I can recognize now that my drinking really started to get out of control. I would have dreams about his dead body laying on my floor and could not sleep. So, I tried to drown out the madness.

I was laid off from my good job and had to take several jobs to make the money to buy more alcohol. I had several sales positions and eventually was cleaning beer taps for a beer distributor. Boy was that throwing Daniel into the lion’s den!

I was now taking a 1 mg Xanax in the morning, 1 pill at noon, and then going out to happy hour every evening. I still would not mix the pills and my drinking. I had lost caring in many things, but I knew how dangerous this was and would not do this to myself. I guess some fight was still in me at the time. However, terrible things were happening, but I really did not care or feel the reverberations or warning signs of these feelings. I ended up losing my house and tried to run away to another city. I was taken in by one of my good friends from college and his most wonderful wife.

Of course, I did not care much and took advantage of this situation. They eventually gave up on me and I was asked to leave. Two weeks later, my mother had a massive stroke, and I came home to help her and my father, who had never cooked a day in his life. Despite what some people thought, I lived there in the house trying to help my parents and did not touch a drink of alcohol for the time that I was there, which was three months.

When I had moved back in with me parents, I had filled my Xanax prescription in the larger city and had ran out of this pill when I had moved home. I went to have it refilled and the pharmacist would not fill it, saying, “It is a federal law that you cannot fill this prescription in one place and then refill it at another pharmacy. I still had two refills left on the prescription and I had no knowledge that I could not receive my pills or that a law like this even existed.

I was supposed to visit a doctor before they would fill it. This was at 6:00 P.M. on a Friday evening. I was told to go to the emergency room, but I had no insurance and could not afford that. So, I decided to tough it out during the weekend. How bad could it get? Talk to you soon and come back for more.

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