When I was back in L.A., I was one of the many poor sufferers prone to panic attacks. Sometimes these were randomly onset, other times induced by some sort of Sunday morning regret. Either way, in these moments my best friend Russell would pop a Xany on my tongue, put me in the car and drive me up the road to the Walmart.
These Walmart excursions served a soothing purpose, kind of like the foil shock blankets they put on people after a car accident or a fire. Once there, Russell would buy me a large Diet Coke or an XXL McDonalds iced skinny vanilla late or any form of a drink carrying copious loads of Aspartame. He’d walk me several laps around store, and by the third or fourth I’d be feeling better that I was not toothless/sporting exposed an exposed ass-crack/or wearing my robe to go shopping at two in the afternoon. Life was okay.
Still, we could never part ways without some sort of indulgence, so usually we’d end up splurging on a $2.00 tube of face mask before leaving to spend the next 40 minutes trying to remember where we’d parked the car (a event which sometimes struck the need for us to go back into Walmart to calm down again).
But the problem now, being in Australia, is that none of these things exist.
The closest thing to a Walmart here is Ikea. Given that I once had to Phone-A-Friend to get out of Ikea, this will never be my choice for mental monastery.
The twenty Xanax I brought over with me lasted a while. At six months in I took the last one after an embarrassing run in at a chicken shop. After that I did what any normal L.A. girl would do: I went to the Doc to ask him for more.
After I got my other necessary prescriptions sorted out, I cleared my throat and began to explain my panic attacks… and could I please have some Xanax or something…?
He looked at me blankly then turned to his computer without saying a word for several long moments. I couldn’t see the what he was typing, but I could feel the judgement in his rapidly moving fingers. He was one of those one-finger typers too, which just made it that much worse. Uh oh.
He turned back to me and lowered his glasses.
“Well, you see, we don’t do that here. Why don’t you try some yoga or pilates or meditation. I think you’ll feel much better.”
Pilates? I left the doctors office and went out to grab the next best thing- a D.C. But due to Australia’s stringent preservative laws and their understanding that Aspartame actually does fuck you up (whateverrrr), you can’t find any diet products that are actually made with the ingredient.
I was starting to feel very homesick, so I reached into my purse and called the one person I knew could and would hook me up, ASAP.
Several weeks later, around Christmastime, the box arrived– unmarked and wrapped in plain brown paper. A box sent by the best smuggler I know, Public Enemy No. 1 and ultimate provider of non-Australian goods.
I ripped open the paper and read the note first. It was printed on Snoopy Christmas paper:
Didn’t have time to write much. Hope this is the right thing.
Underneath the letter was just what I wanted. Obviously Diet Coke would be too heavy to send and let’s face it, the good Doc was right about the Xany. Nonetheless, everyone needs one indulgence and here was mine: Aspartame in the beautiful, compact form of powdered Crystal Light. Packets upon packets of it!
In general I’m proud to say that since I’ve come to Australia I’ve hardly had two panic attacks if any at all. Life really is good here. Nonetheless, it’s nice to know that I’ve got a lime Margarita in my pocket that I can drink anytime, and it’s only five calories.