Whitney, whose name we changed to protect her privacy, sometimes has panic attacks. Her hands shake and her chest tightens. By the end of one, she’s drenched in sweat. To alleviate her worry about having another attack, she carries a prescription bottle of clonazepam, a benzodiazepine, with her everywhere she goes.
The medication works fast, and can end a panic attack within minutes. She uses it so rarely that the name has rubbed off the bottle and she often wonders if the medication is expired. But, simply having it on her acts as a sort of psychological safety blanket. She knows if she is going to have a panic attack in class, the clonazepam is there and will work. Because she hardly ever uses it, she never worried about her potential to misuse or abuse it. Until there was a global pandemic.