Nor did I say a word to the therapist I'd been seeing for more than a year. According to a February 2008 report by IMS Health, a pharmaceutical-industry research firm, pharmacists filled more than 54 million prescriptions for sleep drugs in 2007. In 2005 pharmaceutical companies netted more than $2.7 billion from prescription medications for insomnia—and with so many ads for sleeping pills routinely featured on television, those numbers continue to rise.
After all, there were so many more vital things to discuss: job pressures, difficulties I was having with friends, dating woes. A typical sleep-aid ad shows an attractive couple waking up in the morning, beatific smiles on their faces.
One morning I wandered into the kitchen to make coffee and discovered a pot of soup over an open flame on the stove. Several times I had tried to quit by using sheer willpower: Usually by day three I gave in.
"F—k it," I would say aloud, twisting the cap off the bottle with force and tossing the pills into my mouth.
I'd been taking it every night to sleep—why not to fly? I woke up five hours later, just as the wheels touched down on the tarmac.