Yesterday I was really tired from a tedious Sunday flat-cleaning, still nursing a tinge of hangover from a weekend wedding, and my left eye was studiously applying itself to the development of an infection via clogged oil glands. The main reason this was different from a typical Monday was that I had a hot job interview scheduled this morning (Tuesday) with the COO of a company in which I’m quite interested.
In preparation, I spent time reviewing their website and sector, but was admittedly feeling mentally fuzzy and physically icky. Saturday champagne and Sunday bathtub-scrubbing make for dreary Mondays, especially combined with client tantrums and not enough rest. Obviously, I needed to whip myself into interview-ready shape, like a Cosmo article for your most fab, fearless self, but without the ice cube enemas or whatever it is they prescribe.
The one thing for it, I sensibly decided, was a solid night’s sleep, especially given that the interview was at 7:30 am and I needed to get up extra early to anchor-bob my hair and pretend to be someone who is professionally pert at the ass-crack of dawn. I was home from work Monday by 7:00 pm, ate a high-protein dinner, painted my nails, and ironed made my boyfriend iron my blouse in readiness. By 9:30 pm, I was tucked into bed with a “demanding” Sudoku puzzle and an Introduction to Venture Capitalism. Normally, that would be sufficient to dull my senses towards comatose, but I wasn’t taking any chances. A refreshing sleep was crucial, so I took a quarter of Clonazepam to aid my efforts. Ahem.
I’ve dealt with fairly severe anxiety for years, but only take medication to help me sleep and am very sparing with the dosage. I’m prone to anxiety-induced insomnia, but am keen to avoid drug-dependence – not to mention that it can build up in your system and give you a depressive, can’t-get-out-of-bed hangover if used with too much regularity. So, I am careful to take small quantities as necessary and avoid making it a regular part of my bedtime routine.
Let me further set the stage, though. Over the weekend, while emptying out my party purse for the wedding, I discovered a solitary loratadine (Claritin) tablet still encased in its foil pack, hidden in the recesses of my bag. It was just barely expired, and I was super-psyched. Why? Claritin is an over-the-counter allergy medication, and, it being early Spring and all, its excavation was timely. Secondly, although I have lived in the UK for two-and-a-half years, I firmly believe that the drugstore cold/flu/pain medications in the States are superior. This may be a placebo effect of ingrained Walgreen’s and Target-brand loyalty, but it’s how I feel and it works for me. The allergy medication offered by Boots and Superdrug is inferior product, in my estimation, so this loratadine was a welcome surprise. I dropped it with relish into my bedside drawer for safekeeping, almost excited with the anticipation of my next runny nose.
I didn’t have to wait long. While I did drop into an worried sleep last night, I woke myself up at 10:45 choking on a river of phlegm running down the back of my throat. Waking up with a coughing attack is unpleasant in the extreme, and I ran to the bathroom hacking up nastiness with tears streaming down my face. Fully uncomfortable but not fully lucid, I still remembered my emergency Claritin, and dug it out to gulp down eagerly with a glass of water.
No sooner had I swallowed and blown my nose than I was struck with a feeling of uneasiness. You know what that Claritin looked like? It was a teeny white, round pill with a square foil backing. It looked exactly like my Clonazepam. In fact… I yanked my bedside trash bin onto the bed and started rooting through used tissues.
“What? What?” My boyfriend was asking, having witnessed the entire scale of histrionics, starting from when I woke myself up choking. “Oh, nooooooooooooooo,” I moaned, when I finally located the miniature foil pack at the bottom of the bin. Yes, I had swallowed a whole Clonazepam and was possibly quite fucked.
Listen, I am not Michael Jackson. I don’t have a pharmacy’s worth of drugs in my home, waiting to be mixed up and misused, but I still freaked out a tad, concerned that this quadruple-my-normal-dose of Clonazepam on top of my earlier two glasses of wine was going to give me a brain aneurysm or liver damage or, worse, cause me to sleep through my alarm. The boy set his own alarm for 6:30 am as emergency back-up, and I took my actual Claritin and propped myself up for the night after some additional hairpulling.
It turns out, though, that the force of my anxiety is far more powerful than a moderate dose of drug. Not only did I wake up handily at 6:15 to get ready for my interview, I also woke up at 3:00 am, 3:30, 4:00, 4:30, and every half hour thereafter until my alarm went off. My internal anxiety alarm is apparently effective every thirty minutes under heightened circumstances, ensuring that I will roll over in an instantly wakened panic to check the clock and discover that I have two hours of sleep-time left available; then after five minutes of mind-racing wakefulness, it will reset itself again.
This is yet another reason I should never have children: hysterical nervous breakdown.
At any rate, I made my meeting exactly on time, and not only did the COO tell me I “interviewed brilliantly,” but he emailed my headhunter to tell him I was “very impressive” and made arrangements for me to meet two additional partners at the firm on Friday. I’ll definitely make an early night of it Thursday to prepare – if I go to bed at 8:00, I might just manage six hours of sleep.