It transpires that I am in fact able to stop a state of panic attack without Xanax. It takes a dose of phenibut on the order of grams, plural, plus a handful of Benadryl. I suppose it is good that I now know this, in the general sense that it's always better to know something than to not know something, but I wish to avoid doing any reproducibility trials. Ever. The process is intensely unpleasant.

Firstly, I now understand why filmmakers depict the world from the point of view of a character who is under sedation as viewed through sort of an underwater-wobble. It's not exactly that, but that's probably the closest one can get with commonly-available video filters. It happens, as I discovered when I tried to read something, because your eyes forget how to properly coordinate a saccade. Instead of hopping systematically forward in sync, they lurch from point to point like a pair of poorly-coordinated drunks holding on to the opposite ends of a dog leash. Dissociatives give me 'chameleon eyes', where they don't quite want to point in the same direction, but I can fix that problem by just closing one of them. Each eye focuses and saccades just fine; the problem is solely parallax. There is no way to fix woobly tranquilizer vision.

Things are also periodically blurry, I presume because the muscle relaxant quality of GABAergics also relaxes the muscles used for focus and convergence. (Again, contrast dissociatives, where everything is perfectly sharp but seems unusually distant, as if you're viewing the world through the wrong end of a pair of binoculars.) It affects all the muscles of the body, which made my night really fucking difficult when I realized I probably ought to eat something. I did my best not to drop anything that would wake the rest of the apartment, but it was a challenge.

Thinking was like slogging through knee-deep mud. This made it difficult for me to self-monitor. One of the reasons I am generally pretty sanguine about being in altered states is that it is exceedingly difficult for anything to hammer the part of my brain that keeps track of whether any of the alterations are dangerous. That bit is in a well-shielded panic room, somewhere inconspicuous, in the back of the ops center. While it was not impossible for me to test ideas for the presence (or absence) of common sense, or to check my own vital signs, it was difficult enough to make me nervous. I forced myself to stay awake for a few hours until I was sure it had all long since kicked in, and nothing worse would happen if I went to bed.

Is this really the effect people are shooting for when they abuse sedatives? I enjoy being drunk as much as the next guy, and I even get why some people are entertained by the Ambien walrus, even if I don't think it sounds fun, but I do not understand the appeal of this at all. If anybody in the anonymous hordes out there would like to explain to me the point of recreational benzo use -- or if you were old enough and hip enough to have done Quaaludes back when those were a thing -- please leave a comment.

Phenibut also takes it own sweet motherfucking time to wear off. One of the reasons I find Xanax to be less annoying than everything else is that it nails me in face in like fifteen minutes, and is gone again in 4-6 hours. The half-life of phenibut is about five and a half hours, but much like LSD and serotonin, phenibut's effects on GABA receptors last several times longer. The actual tail-off is more like 1-2 days. I was considerably 'hungover' the morning after, even after knocking back some caffeine, and this morning when I woke up, I had developed some interesting twitches. The fasciculations per se seem to be benign, but it does suggest that coming off a dose that large has withdrawal symptoms. I know enough about GABAergics to treat those with smaller and smaller re-doses until they go away, just in case, but that is more than a little worrisome.

I am currently wearing a pair of the green colored contacts I bought, as hours and hours of hysterical crying got smudgy crap all over my normal pair. I had decided the greens would be relegated to occasion wear; while the lenses are physically comfortable enough, the screen print on the colored part borders on opaque, and the inner diameter of the iris ring is a bit small for me. There's some kind of internal refraction going on in bright sunlight, which is mildly distracting. But as it turns out, the too-small opening in the color band is useful for both glare control and camouflage when your pupils are still blown, and you have to go out and goddamn do things anyway. This is yet another 'lifehack' I really should not have fucking needed to figure out.

I find I am now rather angry. I am angry that clinics have to stop handling these kinds of drugs, because so many people lie to get them. I am angry that people have to lie to get them, because controls are so strict that you won't be issued any unless you say the exact right magic words to put down on the paperwork. I am angry that controls are so strict, because my government has what I think has legitimately become a collective paranoia about drugs that might conceivably under specific circumstances be considered fun. I am angry that this paranoia exists almost strictly because of the War On Drugs, a war which exists more to be ineffectively fought than to actually be won.

Really, I think I'm angry at Nancy Reagan. I find none of this desperate self-medication enjoyable in the slightest. Neither is it good for me. If I'd been issued another half-dozen tablets of Xanax, I could have come home, had an emergency four-hour coma, and be fine by now. Instead, I am tapering off of my gray-market Soviet drugs, still mainly a wreck, because of regulations that ultimately stemmed from her advisors thinking Just Say No would be a great career move.

I already have a lot of survival skills no person should ever need. I am fantastic at convincing people I am fine when I am decidedly not; I am great at talking people out of calling EMS; I am capable of ignoring surprisingly large amounts of pain and discomfort; I can locate, understand, and interpret journal articles pertaining to all manner of bizarre diseases in order to do differential diagnosis on myself. I learned all of these things, and a lot more, because the authority figures to whom I am supposed to be appealing for help have repeatedly failed me. Apparently, now is the part where I teach myself how to buy scheduled prescription drugs illegally over the internet, for exactly the same reason.