I learned very early on that authority figures were unreliable.

My parents like to tell the tale of my first steps. I was fairly old for a non-walker, by their reckoning -- something over a year -- and had shown no real interest in doing anything about it. The adults were sitting around someone's living room having adult conversations, when I, on my mother's lap, started squalling. I wanted one of my toys, which was across the room. Nobody got it for me. It evidently didn't occur to any of them to put me down and encourage me to stumble over there myself. They were busy talking. Eventually, I ran out of patience for this, squirmed free, walked all the way across the room to where my toy was, and plopped down to play without them. No stumbling, no falling. Just one day I didn't walk and the next day I did.

My mother thinks that story is cute. A lot of people do. I understand that parents can't -- and shouldn't -- drop everything to cater to their child's every whim, and that people like hearing stories of how kids are smarter and more capable than you think they are. It would indeed be very twee, if it were an isolated incident.

I hate that story. It made me twitch whenever someone told it in that 'haha, how adorable is this' tone. I think it's an early example of my family training me not to waste my breath telling people when I needed something, because I was just going to be ignored. No one's ever accused me of being a slow learner. I was less than two years old when I got tired of telling people what I wanted and getting no response whatsoever, and fixed the problem myself.

I've been doing more or less the same thing ever since.

It turns out, if you learn to take care of yourself early on, you get pretty good at it. You also learn how to go about it on the QT, if you live in a cage full of dysfunctional monkeys that get upset at you if you accidentally remind them that you need things sometimes. Getting caught in the poo-flinging crossfire is counterproductive, so you just never mention anything to anybody. I eventually got it down to the point where I never asked my mother for anything that didn't involve either a signature or money. I got bitched at a lot for the latter, but money for books, school supplies, clubs, and outside lessons was really the one thing my mother could figure out how to supply, so whatever it was generally got bought. My childhood lacked for a lot of things, but never for anything that could be ordered out of the Edmund Scientific catalog.

The former annoyed her so much that she eventually just told me to sign all the pointless paperwork myself. I don't like half-assing these sorts of things, so you can add 'forgery' to the list of life skills I probably shouldn't have. I used to do a bang-on imitation of Moggie's scrawl when it was my turn to answer the door for our food, not that the pizza guy ever even looked at it. Artistic talent is sorely underappreciated these days.

The flip side of that is, if you look like you can take care of yourself, everyone expects you to. Always. If there is a shortage of time and attention to go around, you are the one who is left to your own devices. This is not, per se, necessarily a bad thing. There are lots of times when you already know what you need to fix the problem you're having, because you've had to fix it before, and in order for someone else to be of any use there you'd have to explain the entire thing to them from start to finish. I've tried that, and about halfway through I start slipping into "Alice's Restaurant" and nobody notices, because it's a billion times the context they thought they wanted when they asked if they could lend a hand.

But.

When you do need someone else to do something for you, it generally strikes them like a bolt out of the blue. Most people do not understand that strong is not a permanent quality. Strength is a finite resource. If they see you as strong, then they have no idea why suddenly you want something from them when you've been taking care of it yourself all this time. It just does not compute.

I honestly don't know how this works with people who are less pig-headed than I am, but there seems to be an assumption that most humans will not work to capacity unless pushed, and that the proper response to, "I don't think I can do this by myself," is, "I believe in you! You can do the thing!" If, "I don't think I can do this by myself" translates to, "I am wibbling! Encourage me!" then what do I actually need to say to get across that I need something more than a cheerleader? It does not seem to occur to anyone that taking care of yourself is real work in the same way it never occurs to anybody that housework is real work. If only one person ever does any of it, eventually that one person is going to snap and need a vacation. No amount of saying 'thank you for doing the dishes' is going to make up for never getting any rest. Either someone else can take over the kitchen for a little while, or everyone else in the house has to live with plates and cups stacked up in the sink.

Authority figures are worse. I am mostly inured to bureaucracy at this point; I know it's not personal, because none of them are paying the slightest bit of attention to me. They can't have it in for me if they don't even know who I am. Doctors are apt to piss me off, though. I am especially tired of having to fight tooth and nail for more Xanax. Strangely enough, it turns out that if you make someone with anxiety issues beg for their anxiolytics every time she needs them, making it clear that whether she gets her medication or not is up to the whim of whoever has the prescription pad, it will generally make her more fucking anxious. Who ever would have thought?

I have rummaged through the internets and gotten myself a supply of etizolam, which is perfectly legal on account of it is technically not a benzodiazepine. (It's a thienotriazolodiazepine. Which is pretty much the same thing as a benzodiazepine, only with the non-functional end of the molecule knocked off and replaced with a different non-functional thing. American drug laws can be wicked stupid.) They sent me a bottle whose label says "not for human consumption", and a small syringe that says "for oral use only", which I found very amusing. Etizolam specifically is the thieno analogue of my good friend alprazolam, which is a triazolobenzodiazepine, with a short onset and short half-life.

Frankly, I think I like it better. The dosing is not quite as one-to-one as advertized; my alprazolam tablets are 0.25 mg, and I had to run the etizolam up to 0.4 mg before it properly hit me in the face. This is still a stupidly tiny amount of the stuff (most people take more like 1-2 mg, either of alprazolam or etizolam, to get the desired effect) and etizolam wears off faster. Seeing as 'amount of time spent annoyingly unable to do things' is my main beef with just about everything that works to abort panic attacks, I am quite pleased at this.

More interestingly, although repeated doses of etizolam produce the same tolerance to the sedative/hypnotic effect as benzos would, there are reports of people developing reverse tolerance to the anxiolysis. Exciting, if true. Even if my life is so shitty I wind up dosing myself daily for a few weeks, I don't like using benzos for sleep -- it's more being dragged into a tiny coma than it is falling asleep, and it's hard to wake up from -- so I'm not likely to raise my dose if that wears off, and if I need progressively less and less to activate the anxiolytic effects, that's kind of a ready-made taper right there.

(I'm sure I could run into some terrible side effects if I started swilling directly from the water bottle I have the stuff diluted in, but I don't actually have to try it myself. That's what Erowid is for. Erowid is a wonderful place that's equal parts FAQs full of real chemistry and footnotes pointing to papers in JAMA and NEJM, and trip reports from people who are dumb enough to buy a handful of mystery pills and immediately take nine of them. Filtering out the idiots who snorked down 10 mg and blacked out, the only warnings I see are essentially to treat it like any other CNS depressant -- dose carefully, don't binge, and for God's sake don't fucking drink on top of it. It's a legitimate prescription drug used outside of the US, with standard brands and tablet markings, so it seems pretty rare to not get what you paid for from someone who claims to be selling it.)

If anyone was wondering, yes, the DIY polypharmacy actually is a considerable improvement. The first time I was on this nasty merry-go-round, I was dealing with state healthcare in Arizona. I hit a roadblock trying to find myself a non-emergency doctor and basically sat down and cried for another six weeks, until it got bad enough to haul myself to the ER again, because I lacked the ability to do anything else. This time around, I tried to put the brakes on before it got to the point where I had to present myself to the emergency department, and when that didn't work, I got angry and figured out how to do an end run around the problem. If you've never been down to the point where you lacked the emotional reserves to realize that 'doctor is supposed to help me; isn't' is a failure of the system and not the way the world works, then you are lucky, and I hope you never find out.

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