I’m an insomniac. Always have been. God knows why. I remember even as a kid spending long hours alone in the darkness thinking about transforming into O Mighty Isis. I had an amber-coloured glass eye pried from my little sister’s mangy old teddy bear, which I’d sellotape to my forehead as the sacred amulet while Adi chanted “O Mighty Isis!”. I even made her whisper the echo you heard over the billowing dry ice on the TV Show. Anyway, I spent a lot of time at night as Isis, which, I dun’ know, somehow isn’t as much fun anymore. Once, when I was whingeing to Dr Shirley about my nights spent staring at the cavernous darkness while Mark makes bestial noises beside me, she casually hypothesised that it might be symptomatic of my adult ADHD. I gave her a withering look and deliberately ignored the brochure she slid across her desk. But who cares? We are not here to ponder why. We are here to talk about the drugs.
I have lab-ratted plenty for you, so in case you haven’t got time to waste reading random blog posts, I’ll cut straight to the pay-off: Stilnox.
For me, Stilnox (a.k.a. Zolpidem) is still the wicked fairy’s choice. Swallow a Stilnox and within minutes, sleep descends like I’ve just pricked my finger on a spinning needle. And yet the next morning, I wake to a bright, clear day – no fog, no grog. End of blog post, right? Not so fast, buster. There’s a small twist.
Stilnox has the interesting side-effect of erasing short-term memory and – possibly – of lowering inhibitions. So, in the interval between taking the pill and falling asleep, there lies, uh, peril. To illustrate, I’m going to have to confess to something I never did: One morning I woke up a little sore. It was a familiar soreness, down there. I was confused because I’d gone straight to sleep after brushing my teeth with my trusty Braun Turbo Pro. That was the last thing I could remember though, so I turned to Mark, who was in the middle of his OCD-ishly annoying ritual of folding his pillow in half and punching it before lying back against it.
“We didn’t, you know, shag last night, did we?” I asked, as casually as one can ask such a question.
Mark lifted his gaze from his iPhone – in itself significant – swivelled his head in a slow, exaggerated arc towards me, his face frozen in disbelief.
“You’re kidding, right?”
He proceeded to describe a sex scene that would’ve made Linda Lovelace blush. I will never divulge what he claimed I did, suffice it to say, it was on the wrong side of what separates Youth Ministry-OK’d from kink. Mark was suspiciously amused during the recounting though, so either the excessive amounts of time he has obviously spent in the lonely, back-lit wank alleys of the internet meant that he could deliver one helluva improv performance, or I can never, ever, ever take Stilnox again. In the end, I told him he was a liar and a filthy pervert and clamped my hands over my ears and started singing “Oh Happy Day!” to drown him out and then speed-dialled the doctor’s.
She told me that I needed to go on Valium (a.k.a Diazepam) to wean myself off the Stilnox. Valium. To wean myself off. That’s what I’m telling you, man. Valium was the Methadone, for chrissake, and I didn’t even know I was a junkie. Learn from my mistakes, people.
Anyway, after the whole sordid Benzodiazepine episode, I tried to go homeopathic. Puh-lease, I hear you roll your eyes, do me a favour. And yes, yes, I should know better, but it all just seemed so natural. The quasi-religious evangelizing by the homeopath at Weleda about nature’s cures for the bankruptcy of our modern existence got to me. I briefly considered drinking green tea, and actually enjoying it. Then there was all the pseudo-science: medicalese like “adrenaline”, “cortisol” and “melatonin” was bandied impressively about, followed by a long and damning lecture about non-organic modern farming methods. Turns out, you don’t have to be Sudanese to have a vitamin deficiency. And in case I still harboured any scepticism, he helpfully cited the whole Big Pharma conspiracy to supress the truth – because they can’t profit from nature, the greedy fat cats – like say, Solal and Solgar and, hey, Weleda were as I forked over my greasy strip of plastic for my Metagenics Benesom and dozens and dozens of bottles of “anti-oxidants”.
Anyway, after three months of weeing Chinese Skullcap, Valerian Root, Lemonbalm leaf and Passionflower, I returned to the homeopath and explained nicely to him that the term “alternative medicine” was somewhat fraudulent, given that this was the stuff that when you get right down to it, failed in the clinical trials – that in a double-blind test could not outperform the placebo. I may have called it quackery. Or him a quack. I definitely recall “snake oil” being mentioned several times. Also “bullshit”. But I can’t really remember – I was chronically sleep deprived after all.
My parting cheap shot was to tell him I’d already filled my GP’s prescription for Molipaxin (or Trazodone to its friends), so whah.
“Do you even know what Molipaxin is?” he demanded.
“A serotonin re-uptake inhibitor,” I replied, “I got Google same as you, buddy.”
I’m pretty sure that in the olden days, my voortrekking great grandmother Gertruda Pienaar Liebenberg had to climb down off the ox wagon in order to fill her anti-anxiety medication script from the veld, but thank God, now there’s Dischem.
I blew the ol’ quack pot a kiss on my way out the door.
“Enjoy your kale for dinner tonight, hey.” I called “Carpe Diem.”
You have no idea of the sarcastic lengths to which I will go when my way of life is being threatened.
And the moral of the story? Schedule 5 or higher.
Or be Isis.
— Good Night —