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Davis, California

Wednesday, May 29, 2024

Column: Using Ativan

Some shake

The other night we were getting faded on the roof when my friend started talking about how he had broken his leg.

He went into excruciating detail about the pain he felt and the sight of his twisted leg.

While I’m sure he didn’t mean to, his story got me stressed and disturbed and sent me into a mild panic. I backed away from him and from the sight of his cast and tried to focus on something else, but it was too late.

I couldn’t stop imagining the pain he felt and I couldn’t shake the image of his leg bent at the shin.

It somehow immediately sobered me up, but then I just got lightheaded and my body started shivering and felt like it wanted to shrivel into itself. I felt like I was about to pass out or throw up or start crying, and I didn’t want to move or talk or have anyone near me.

I’ve had an anxiety problem for a while now, but it has always been an anxiety that hits me at random times and that usually is triggered inside my own head. This was the first time somebody else had directly caused my brain to slightly short-circuit.

I’d been avoiding drugs to treat my anxiety, and I thought I was doing just fine without them. But this recent experience made me realize that this might not be something I’d be able to get through on my own.

Maybe my head had been through too much and needed a little chemical assistance before it could go back to its healthy self. I was fed up with my condition, and I was ready to believe that the prescriptions that my doctor had given me were not just drugs, but that they were actual medicine intended to heal.

One reason I’d been unsure about taking drugs is because there’s always a risk of dependency when not used appropriately, and I never want to end up addicted to the stuff and thinking that I need it every day just to survive.

But the real reason I was so scared of taking the pills my doctor had recommended for me was because I already had a terrible experience a couple months back when he put me on Prozac, an antidepressant.

They made me extremely restless and emotional and had me feeling a low like no other. I flushed them down the toilet and in my drug-induced rage I swore I’d never return to that fucking doctor ever again.

But my doctor’s actually a really sweet guy who just wants to help others, so he had no problem prescribing something else when I finally did return to his office a couple days ago.

Ativan (mainly known as Lorazepam) was not at all what I expected. It is essentially an all-around relaxant and it is normally used to treat anxiety, insomnia and even acute seizures.

I was expecting it to have a heavy, druggy effect, and I thought it would leave me numb and distant. But really I didn’t feel anything at all.

Before I took the half-milligram pill, I was extremely nervous and sensitive and felt sick to my stomach. But after about 20 minutes I felt fine and perfectly normal.

I didn’t feel “floaty” or out of it or forcedly happy. I just felt like all the nerves in my head that were previously tangled and heated were now calm and smoothed out.

I was able to return to my friend with the broken leg and was no longer as bothered by the gory stories.

As a student, I am weary of taking pills since I have to be constantly reading or writing and cannot afford to have my brain in a drunken fog.

Unfortunately, anxiety can be very debilitating and trying to study while in a panic is just as futile as trying to read in the dark.

The simple thought of taking pills for my anxiety used to make me even more anxious, but I am now a little more trusting in them and feel comforted in knowing I could treat my nerves without getting hazy or slow.

As awful and as scary as anxiety can be, it still somehow tricks you into thinking you don’t need help.

Many are embarrassed to seek help for their anxiety because it does not seem as much of a health concern as a broken leg.

However, your brain should be your priority, and this first-hand experience was with just one of the many options out there designed to keep it in good health.

LEO OCAMPO feels a lot better after sharing all this and invites you to do the same at gocampo@ucdavis.edu.


  1. I am loathe to say this simply because I understand the severity and the consequenses of anxiety. I also greatly respect your desire to responsibly and effectively treat your anxiety.

    However, Ativan or benzodiazepines in general are in no way a long term solution for treatement of anxiety or for that matter, anything.

    The links I am posting will perhaps give you some insight into the seriousness and consequenses of using benzodiazepines.

    I’m not trying to scare nor am I judging. I am simply someone who made the same choice as you many years ago, who became iatragenically addicted, was prescribed this by a well meaning physician, never took more than was prescribed and who is paying a far steeper price then could ever have been anticipated.





    I, for one, now wish I had investigated any and all options to resolve the insomnia for which this drug was prescribed. How you proceed is most certainly up to you. I am just a friendly voice trying to stop a fellow human being from unnecessary distress and suffering.



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