How Early Can You Refill Xanax
Saturday in January, and I was sitting on my front porch steps with my husband when we heard what sounded like fireworks coming from down the street. We looked at each other and said simultaneously that it probably wasn’t fireworks but gunshots. As we started to walk toward our neighbor’s house, we noticed that there were no sirens or ambulances. And then suddenly, we saw people running across the lawn toward us.
“Oh my God,” my husband whispered as he put his arm around me. “I think someone just shot somebody.”
We stood still for a moment and watched as more people ran up to us. My heart sank as my mind raced through all the possibilities: Was this an accident? Had something happened to one of our neighbors? What if one of them had been hurt?
As more people approached us, I felt myself starting to shake and hyperventilate. All I could do was stare blankly ahead while tears streamed down my face. It took everything in me not to start screaming hysterically. The person who’d been shot lay motionless on the grass. A woman knelt over him and cried loudly. Another man walked back across the lawn and collapsed into another kneeling figure. There were so many questions racing through my head, but I couldn’t speak. All I wanted to know was whether anyone else was injured. When a friend came up behind me and asked how the shooting victim was doing, I shook my head without speaking. She touched my shoulder gently and told me she would call 911. Then she handed me her phone so I could make the call.
When I hung up, I looked at the group of people surrounding me and realized that nobody knew anything about the shooting. No one even seemed to have seen anything happen. That’s when reality hit me hard — I was alone. Not only did I feel completely deflated by the realization that this was real life, but also because I didn’t have any medication readily available to help me cope with the shock.
I’d taken Xanax (alprazolam) for years after being diagnosed with Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD). But the day before, my doctor had stopped refilling my prescriptions due to a technicality. This meant that I wouldn’t be able to get medication for two whole days. Now here I was, left to deal with anxiety attacks and panic attacks when I needed support the most.
The truth is, when I’m anxious, I need Xanax. For those two long days, I didn’t take it once. Instead, I tried all kinds of coping mechanisms: exercise, yoga, meditation, breathing exercises. Nothing worked better than taking my Xanax when I got home. In fact, I found myself craving it whenever I went out for lunch or dinner with friends.
Because I live in New York City, where gun violence happens frequently, I’ve learned to recognize signs of trouble before it escalates. If I see people walking together slowly with their hands on each others’ backs, I’ll step aside quickly. Or if I notice a group of young men hanging out together, I’ll say hello and ask how they’re doing. Sometimes I hear stories from these friends about shootings and other violent incidents. Other times, they tell me about a recent arrest and how much they love their family members. One guy recently moved back in with his parents after serving time in jail. These are the moments when I remind myself that people aren’t bad just because of where they live; they can be good too. They can be loved.
But during that first week of having to go without Xanax, I kept thinking about what might have happened to my friends. I thought about the pain my neighbor may have gone through before losing consciousness, and wondered if he survived. I imagined the terror he must have experienced when he woke up to find himself lying on the ground, covered in blood, unable to move. I pictured his confusion and fear as he sat upright and realized that he’d been shot. He must have panicked and called out for help, hoping that someone would answer his cries. Nobody did.
And then there was the person I’d seen fall face-first onto the lawn, whose lifeless body lay under a white sheet. I imagined paramedics arriving and putting him on a stretcher, wheeling him away. I envisioned doctors examining his injuries and explaining to him why he died. I couldn’t stop crying.
That night, I wrote in my diary about how scared I was and how helpless I felt. I also described how I wished I could comfort him, reassure him that everything would be OK. I lamented that I hadn’t done enough to save him. How stupid I was! Why had I waited so long to refill my prescription? I should have known that I was getting close to finishing mine.
Two days later, I finally picked up my prescription. I felt relieved. I was ready to get some relief from my constant state of worry.
Unfortunately, it turned out to be a very short bout of happiness. On my way out of the pharmacy, I overheard a conversation between the pharmacist and another employee.
“Did you guys hear?” the employee asked. “There was a shooting at a wedding party last night!”
My eyes flooded with tears again. I immediately started shaking and fidgeting. I couldn’t breathe. Could this really be happening in 2018? Did I really hear right? I felt faint. I couldn’t believe it.
Pharmacy employees often receive alerts via text message when certain medications are due to be refilled. So it’s possible that the pharmacy workers already knew about the shooting. However, it doesn’t explain why the pharmacist mentioned it to me. Maybe he wanted to warn me about the possibility of hearing news updates regarding the incident. Or maybe he was concerned that I was going to freak out. Either way, I was grateful that he let me know. Still, it made me wonder whom I could trust anymore. Would word of the shooting ever reach me? How could I keep track of what was happening in case of future emergencies?
For now, I try to stay alert to any news reports about shootings and other events. I follow local police departments on Twitter and Facebook, and read articles online about the latest crimes. I also use a Google search engine to look up details of previous events. While this gives me information about what’s happening in the world, it also makes me feel constantly connected to danger. To avoid feeling paranoid, I remind myself that there are always risks associated with living in cities like New York. I know that I risk encountering criminals every single day. I can choose to either focus on the dangers I encounter or focus on the positive things happening in my neighborhood.
After the shooting, I began researching ways to prepare for emergency situations and disasters. I found resources such as the National Center for Disaster Preparedness and Ready.gov. I also spoke with experts who gave me advice about how I could reduce my exposure to trauma.
Ultimately, though, my best preparation for dealing with disaster lies within myself and my ability to cope with stress. When I feel overwhelmed by my fears, I remind myself that I am safe right now. I’m okay. I will survive.
If you or someone you care about needs immediate medical attention following a traumatic event, please contact 911 or call the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services’ free national hotline at 1−800−273−TALK.
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