Greetings, sweet kittens. It's me, Zara, your digital big sister.
While I love the weekend as much as the next free-wheeling, high heel-wearing, winged liner-sporting, booze-swilling, red-lipsticked PARTY GIRL, 99.9 percent of the mistakes I've made in my life have taken place during the weekend. I've spent one too many Mondays spiraling down the dark vortex of weekend guilt, regret and shame.
But hey, don't fret. Because I'm going to be here every Friday to stop you from the awful weekend fuckups that are screwing up your life. Here's this week's Very Important PSA.
Do NOT, I repeat, DO NOT -- I repeat again, DO NOT -- take a Xanax before you go out and drink your face off tonight.
And when I say Xanax, I'm referring to more than just Xanax. I'm referring to Clonazepam, Valium, Ativan and all the rest of the benzos.
Now, some of you might be thinking, "WHAT THE HELL ARE YOU EVEN TALKING ABOUT? WHO DOES THAT, AND WHAT ARE THOSE DRUGS EVEN!?"
Well, for those of you who don't know, these drugs are fast-acting meds used to treat severe anxiety, like bad, unshakeable, debilitating anxiety. Panic attacks. Panic disorder. Panic. Panic. Panic. The kind that creeps up on you and makes you feel out of control, like you're ascending into the thin air or disintegrating into the stone-cold ground.
However, I know most of you who clicked into this article know exactly what I'm talking about.
And I know prescription pills are a sensitive, loaded subject, and that I'm probably going to get a lot of hate for even "going there." But I really, really want to talk about this. I see too many of my friends pop a Xanax like it's a pink Jolly Rancher, throw on the red lippy, go out for a night on the town and end up blacking out.
I see too many of my friends pop a Xanax like it's a pink Jolly Rancher.
Let me tell you a story about one of my best friends in the whole, wide world, Grace*, who suffered one night at the mercy of Xanax.
Grace is a gorgeous blonde with ice blue eyes and naturally golden, olive skin. She's really pulled together in the looks department. She twists her waist-length hair up into a lot of very chic chignons and wears a lot of cream colored blazers with big vintage brooches. She even has a black and white Chanel one.
She's stunning and she's stylish, and every boy who has ever laid eyes on her is instantly pulled in by her ~magnetic prowess~.
Grace, like me, really suffers from anxiety. Grace takes prescription antidepressants, and the two of us often pull each other aside at parties to discuss what meds we're currently on, what therapist we're currently seeing and when our latest meltdown was.
I met Grace during a seven-hour hair salon visit when I was transitioning from brunette to blonde. And we instantly clicked.
Not just because we were two fake blondes, but because I can always sense a fellow anxious/depressed entity and I'm always drawn to him or her. There is a soulfulness, a depth, a hypersensitivity, a connectedness to sad people that I can relate to.
I mean, if you're empathetic and creative, how can you not be sad and anxious? The world is a cruel, cold place. If you're tapped into the darkness, you're going to be a emotionally affected.
I often worry about Grace because Grace really likes to party hard. And I'm often triggered when I run into her because I see so much of myself in her. It's like looking into a mirror and staring down the parts of my past that I wish I could run far, far away from. The parts of myself that I've worked so hard to blur out.
Grace and I have recently fallen out of touch, but I saw her at the bar recently.
"GRACE!?" I shouted from the other side of the dimply lit bar. I can spot that effortlessly platinum blonde hair anywhere.
Grace slowly turned around. She looked at me with dead eyes.
Have you ever really looked at someone with dead eyes? It's jarring. It's like someone has blown out the light that exists from within, and the spot where a little blue flame once flickered is now just a vast, empty space.
Not only were her eyes vacant and glassy, she had streaks of mascara down her face, she had bruise-like circles nestled in her eye sockets and her tropical pink lipstick was haphazardly smeared across her delicate face.
I knew she was totally bombed, shit-faced, wasted. But I also knew this specific kind of bombed, shit-faced, wasted. It wasn't, "OH, I'm hammered from six glasses of champagne and had no dinner because I'm dieting!" kind of bombed, shit-faced, wasted.
She was drinking on her prescription meds, and this was a shaky dance I knew too well.
My heart dropped to my knees.
"Grace!" I walked over to her and began shaking her by her bony shoulders. I could tell she was on some kind of muscle relaxer by the way she went limp. I felt like I was shaking a rag doll.
"What did you take?" I demanded.
"It's SO weird, Zara. I swear to God, she's only had three beers!" one of her little minions, a 22-year-old ginger with a star constellation of freckles and a knock-off Hermes bag, squealed to me. She cowered in my presence as if I was going to blame her for Grace's wasted-ness.
And I believed the little minion. But drinking three beers if you've popped a Xanax is like drinking two six-packs on an empty stomach.
Drinking three beers if you've popped a Xanax is like drinking two six-packs on an empty stomach.
"I just had one Xani, Zarrrrra... you know, for the social anxiiiiety," Grace slurred to me, holding on to the bar for dear life.
The bar can't save you now, I thought to myself.
"No kidding. I'm taking you home," I said, grabbing her by her limp, rag doll arms and pulling her out of the bar.
"Fuuuck yooou," she lifelessly protested. I ignored her.
I tried to drown out the sounds of people snickering behind us.
"That girl is wasted!" I heard a British boy accent say.
"Woah, what a hot mess. Thank God I'm not that fucked up!" I heard a sorority girl voice shout. I could feel her finger pointing our direction, even though my gaze was direct. Sometimes you can feel a point or a stare.
"She's definitely cut off. She's so drunk. What a joke," I heard a frat boy say in a California drawl.
I could hear these little snippets of conversation trailing behind me as I shuffled Grace out of the dark bar. I wondered if these people knew that their judgmental comments would get into Grace's subconscious and fill her with so much shame and embarrassment, which would only lead to her social anxiety deepening and deepening, causing her to medicate more and more.
I stayed with Grace throughout the night to make sure she stayed alive. I know it sounds melodramatic, but accidental overdose is much more common than all of us realize. We don't think that's even a possibility when we recklessly pop a pill into our anxious mouths and go out to drink like it's no big deal.
Do you know how many of my friends (myself included) are prescribed Xanax? Do you know how many people just hand them out like party favors at bars? It's impossible to confess to feeling anything without being offered a pretty blue pill these days.
But popping a seemingly innocent anxiety pill and then going out drinking is not pretty and it's not safe, girls.
I've done it, and I've woken up not remembering a thing that's happened the night before. Do you know how terrifying it is to lose hours of your life that you will never, ever be able to get back? Do you know scary it is to NOT know what happened to during those lost hours?
I've had traumatic little flashes of unwanted touches and harsh arguments, but I can't even tell if they're a dream or if they're real. That's the scariest part of a blackout. It robs you of your reality.
That's the scariest part of a blackout. It robs you of your reality.
I'm lucky I've survived the things I've survived, and that by some grace of God-knows-who-or-what, I've come out the other side. And I don't want to play Russian roulette with my life anymore.
Let me tell you something: During those times I was feeling too nervous to go out and decided it would be a good idea to take something for the nerves, I had no idea I was playing with fire.
I had no idea that it could all mix incorrectly in my system, and that I could go to sleep and never wake up. Or that I might black out and put myself in a compromising situation. Or that I might humiliate myself and get thrown out of a bar for falling asleep in my cocktail. I don't want to be known as the girl who sleeps in her cocktails.
But I just thought it was all normal. I just thought it's what people did. Because it happened all around me, all of the time.
But at some point, after getting so many frantic phone calls from my girlfriends in which they're crying and they don't remember anything and they woke up somewhere and they're not sure if they had sex or not, and after hearing about people falling asleep and not waking up or doing unspeakable things, I cleaned up my act. I love my life too much to lose it.
So, kittens, I beg of you. Please, please, please think twice before you take a Xanax and decide to go out drinking tonight. If you're nervous about socializing, I totally get it. I'm nervous about sharing a stupid elevator ride with another human being. I have such bad social anxiety, too.
But you know it's OK to feel nervous. Feeling nervous won't kill you. Mixing pills with booze can.
All this mixing of pills and booze and blacking out is only pushing you down a dark and dangerous cycle, too. It begets more pills and booze and blacking out because the shame of your behavior will make you more anxious and make you medicate more.
The shame of your behavior will make you more anxious and make you medicate more.
Plus, you're nervous because you're filled with so much fire, so much life, so much inner restlessness, and that's actually a really beautiful thing. It means you're a feeler, a creator.
It can be hard to be connected and it can feel easier to just blur out these intense feels, but I love you when you're complex and feeling things. It makes you so much more fascinating. Learn to sit with that rather than to run from it.
Some people are just born disconnected and numb. Yes, it seems easier to be one of those robots, but you know those people are so horribly boring. You're SO interesting and we're not like them, you and I, and thank God for that.
So, if you're tempted to pop the pill, imagine me, your digital big sister, sitting pretty on the sofa as you nervously adorn your lashes in the blackest mascara to ever grace the market.
I'm drinking a cold glass of champagne out of a delicate flute. I'm wearing a silver, strapless, red Valentino cocktail dress and mega heels. We're going out together tonight, baby. We're going to paint the fucking city black.
And I'm telling you, you don't need to blur out your bright light. It might be blinding to some, but I like it and I'm your big sister, so who the hell cares what anyone else thinks? Message me if you need someone else to stop you!
Put on those fishnets, feel your feelings and remember that they won't kill you, drink all the champagne -- but don't throw pills into the mix. Let your gorgeous, frenetic, anxious energy light up all the dull bars in Manhattan. The basic bitches are depending on your whirlwind of nerves to make the bar a more electric, exciting place tonight.
I might not know you, but I LOVE YOU.
Zara, your digital big sister