9/20/2012

Maybe more Klonopin Lunches Are in Order

The title, Klonopin Lunch, caught my eye. It is catchy, right? And in the title alone, it encapsulates how a sizeable portion of our society gets through things. Sure, it may not be klonopin. There are a number of anti-anxiety meds available to mellow people out. In the 70s, it was valium given out like candy, and now it's xanax.

Jessica Dorfman Jones takes most of the memoir to get to the title of the book. After nearly two years of spiraling out of control and deeper into the seedy underbelly of the New York party and band scene, Jones has a serious falling out with her lover, a guitar player who becomes her addiction, and turns to an old friend for a shoulder. He serves her a little blue pill--a klonopin, to go with her tomato soup and grilled cheese, and its calming effects allow her the chance to think about her life and its trajectory.

If it were a fairy tale or a modern romance, perhaps that one blue pill would be enough to help her get a handle on her life and replot its course. Of course, we all know that one anti-anxiety med alone can't fix us or the messes we've made.

Jones, even while changing names and condensing some events, doesn't shy away from the hard things. She doesn't elevate herself or think her actions were without consequences for her or the people who care about her.

In her attempt to find herself, walk on the wild side, and break free from the monotony she felt her life was, she is glaringly honest with her mistakes, and what she feels was her helplessness to alter her course. All she knows is she's miserable, she's bored, and the life she was living, although safe and secure, is not for her. She even admits to trying to have her cake and eat it, too, trying to hold onto her marriage while still engaging in risky behaviors like snorting coke with her lover and his friends. She writes about the guilt she feels, the weight she loses because she can't bring herself to eat from all the lives she's trying to keep afloat.

Compartmentalizing only works for so long, especially when what we are doing violates our core ethics and principles. What do you do when those nice, tidy boxes you've shoved the various parts of your life in burst? Well, in Jones' case, it means losing her husband, leaving her lover, and starting all over again. She rises from the ashes and gets her second chance at living a life that she values.

Klonopin Lunch pulls the reader along, drags the reader sometimes unwillingly ahead--it is painful, even when it's a text, to watch people self-implode, and if you've ever had a ringside seat to that, it can make it even more challenging. Jones is a hell of a storyteller, and reading her memoir was an opportunity to read something completely different from my normal books for review.

While I had expected a discussion of anxiety, mood disorders, depression, and how to deal with it productively, in a healthy manner, I was not disappointed that therapy isn't even addressed until the acknowledgements. We're a flawed species with a tendency to self-medicate in ways that are not helpful in the long run. It takes courage to admit to how low we can go, to reach out and ask for help, and most importantly, to admit how frakked up we are.

What should readers take away? Is there a moral? After all, by her account, Jones landed on her feet. Divorce is common. Drug use, less common, but still not out of the ordinary. She still stayed employed, saved money, and never ended up on the street. She pulled back from the abyss. She was and is one of the lucky ones.

And, my take away, personally, is that I am abundantly lucky. Yes, I have issues, but I haven't self-imploded. I sought therapy and appropriate medication for my anxiety and OCD issues, my depression. I actuall have regular klonopin breakfasts and dinners. Why? Because it helps me manage my issues, it lets me get out of the house, and it allows me to be functional. It helps me face the demons, and keep going.

We all have our ways of dealing with existential angst and the deep, philosophical questions that keep us awake at night, wondering what the hell we're doing and why.  Jones chose a path that could have destroyed who she was, but she walked through that and came out the other side and is happier for it. There ought to be an easier way to figure out who you are and what you want, and I think there is, at least for me. Being a parent worked to ground me, to help me fight my battles in a relatively appropriate way. Sure, I rebel. I'm writing this with a purple wig and an attention-getting, potentially People of Walmart outfit. But that's my way of fighting my demons. When we most want to fade into the woodwork and be unseen, that's when we should wear purple hair and bold outfits. And, probably, have a klonopin lunch so we can actually get out in the outfit and hair, rather than being stuck in the bathroom.

3 comments:

melbo said...

You are SO NOT People of Walmart. I had to get that out of the way.

Thank you for this review and I agree also that while there is nothing wrong with medication, it is a pity more people don't think seriously about the benefits of therapy. It's not just for now - it's a chance to change negative behavioural patterns that aren't serving you well and to find out what's really driving the behaviour.

But as I said, nothing wrong with meds. Sometimes you know what's wrong but you just need to batten down the hatches and keep going. That's what they're great for.

I think I should get into wigs.

Harry said...

batten down the hatches and keep going.

Yes, albeit for me there is Lorazepam and whisky for the journey.

I've got to get from A to B - it doesn't matter whether I walk, get the bus or flap my wings and fly.

We have to get the kids to school, the bills paid and the yard swept.

I'm getting over the idea that life should be fun, easy or endlessly joyful.

Onward, ever onward...

K Wombles said...

Thanks, Mel--I still didn't chance going to the store in that outfit--apparently it's one thing to wear it to a college that's busy and overrun with hundreds of students and to put it on the internet where everyone can see it, but an entirely different thing to wear it to the grocery store. :) Wigs are such fun!

Harry,
I think that people's belief that life should be easy is a big stumbling block--the Buddhists have a lot of things right--life is suffering. At least if we can surround ourselves with fellow companions, we don't have to be alone as we march onward.