News From The Couch

It’s hot today, this unofficial last day of summer. Of course, here in northern Cali, we are only now headed into our “summer.” Sept. and Oct. are normally quite hot with less fog. I am excited that the summer is slipping away and we are headed into cooler temps. The heat makes all of my sx ratchet up a few notches.

Part of me is excited to be coming up on another Halloween. There is a local street that is cordoned off for trick-or-treaters. The families on the street outdo each other in their decorations, animated monsters, fog machines, etc. It’s the Disneyland of Halloween. We dress up and walk around. (I even go door to door and get candy. Just because I can and it’s fun.) Part of me is terribly upset that another holiday is approaching and I am still benzo sick. This will be my 5th (FIFTH) Halloween feeling the ravages of benzos. I can hardly wrap my head around that without feeling so sad.

I used to shoot for 2 years healed. Then three. Now, I’m hoping 5. If I heal before then that would be great. But I am not going to sweat if it I don’t. I am learning how to stay quiet on my couch, write, and try to be of service as best as I can. I know I am not the only one hurting. I’ve got a lot of sisters and brothers in the same benzo boat.

One thing I am getting good at doing is learning how to not go into true panic mode. I can get close to panic when I feel trapped, stuck in this body that hurts, twitches, tingles, burns, is weak, wobbly, achy, dizzy, cog-fog, etc. but I know to breathe, change my thoughts, let go, give it up to God and just BE. I’m getting better at giving up control. Control is just an illusion anyway. None of us have very much.

I wish I could say I was out at a Labor Day BBQ, all gussied up, laughing, eating pulled pork and baked beans. Corn on the cob dripping with butter, apple pie, and sugar sweet fresh lemon aide. I’m not. I am  sprawled all sweaty on my leather couch (Can’t wait to get rid of it when i am well) with my laptop balanced on my knees. I am counting the hours until I have to get up, take a shower and go to dinner with my son. I dread having to get vertical. Dread having to plaster on a smile. All I want to do is find a cave, crawl in and curl up until my CNS has repaired itself. But my couch is going to have to do.

A shout out to Sherry who is fighting the good fight. Keep going sister. You will heal.  We all will. One day. That’s what they tell us anyway. Hope to God they are right.

Feeling More Like Elvis Everyday.

Don’t you step on my blue suede shoes! Not that there is any danger of that. 1. I don’t own any. 2. Too benzo sick to walk anywhere you might accidentally plod over my toes. 3. Too benzo sick to put on shoes, let alone some fancy shmancy blue ones. Only thing blue around here is my mood.

I’m freaking sick and tired of being sick and tired. Who is with me on this one? I see your hands waving out there. I know. I’d give my left nut for a day with no symptoms. Wait. I’m a girl. No left nut, last time I checked anyway. How about i give a bag of nuts. Almonds. You know they say the amygdala, that little jewel that sits in the middle of our brains sreeeeeching at us to be afraid, is shaped like an almond. I’m so tired of being her bitch. Actually, I’ve gotten rather good at ignoring her. She’s always telling my adrenals to pump, and my sweat glands to go berserk. God only knows what else she is in charge of in there. Sure wish my brain would cobble some more GABA receptors back together so AMY, as I call that part of my brain, can be put into check. Sternly. With a crop and a ball gag if necessary. Just STFU AMY.

But I digress from my main thought. I feel like Elvis. No, I haven’t gained a paunch or grown sideburns. I don’t know how to curl my lip or sing sexy. But I do know how to turn my days upside down like he did. I’ve heard that he slept a lot during the day so he could go out at night when there were fewer people to bother him. (I’ve read he was on a benzo too, poor bugger.) I feel so incredibly sick in the mornings that I stay in bed until the crack of noon. When I do get up I drag myself to the couch and plop down. My apartment is pretty small, so we are talking only a handful of strides. But that’s enough to exhaust me. When I am vertical, the head pressure is awful. I am so dizzy. Not spinny like I played beer pong with the frat boys, but a sense of disequilibrium. I feel like a new foal, not knowing quite where my legs should go.

The mornings/afternoons are spent in distraction. I am creating websites for people (bayareacolorconsulting.com) and my own to help coaches with their writing needs. As long as my mind is engaged, I can tolerate my misery.

By late afternoon/early evening, I am less symptomatic. Not well, but I don’t feel that I could fall off the face of the planet and float away to some place no one will ever find me. By ten PM I am usually able to watch a movie and *almost* forget I am battling benzo recovery syndrome. So like The King, I like the nightlife. Such as it is, sprawled on the couch with gum wrappers strewn about, day old dishes with flecks of dried food clinging to the rims, and water glasses that have made permanent soggy circles in my table top. My hunch is Elvis was having more fun than I am in the night. I shit load more fun.

I want to reassure everyone out there who is healing that we do recover. But I don’t know anymore. I really don’t. The mental lets up for me and WHAM the body crap takes over. It is beyond exhausting.

The sun has set here in the west. A breeze picks up momentum here in the garden. I am writing in the dark, happy that the bulk of the day is behind me. I survived it. Etch another mark into the wall. I try not to think about tomorrow. That would be too depressing and scary. Cause you and I both know I’m not going to wake up suddenly healed and have my life fall into place. Stay in the moment. I’m trying. I’m trying.

I sure wish I was well enough to buy some snazzy new shoes and hit the town. I’d show everybody my moves. I think I used to have some, years ago. :) Until then, I put one stubborn foot in front of the other. All they way to my couch, then the bed. And sometimes, I push myself out into the garden, and pray that soon I can feel alive again. I feel so shut down and cut off at times.

Maybe my next post should be that I feel like Walk Disney. He’s frozen, the poor sonofbitch. And I thought I had problems. :)

Onward .Sigh. Onward.

 

38 Months Out. A Ramble.

I was 38 months out on the 23rd. Here is what I am still experiencing since my cold turkey.

I wake up (mornings are still the hardest) and feel sorta decent in my body/mind for about 30 seconds. Then the symptoms wash over me.

Almost my entire body tingles. My back, buttocks and legs are by far the worse. It is not pins and needles like when a body part falls asleep, it is a stinging, electrical, painful, hard to describe tingling. I hate it.

I have muscle spasms happening in various areas all at once. My skin burns, mostly on back of arms and back. My back tightens up and I feel as if I am being crushed.

My vision is bad in the mornings. I still see double sometimes, or it is like I have vaseline over my eyes.

The bottom of my feet burn/tingle.

My hip bones/sockets hurt very badly. Often at night, if I am asleep on my side, they ache so much it wakes me up. Bones in my legs and arms hurt too.

It feels as if someone is squeezing my left bicep.

My mouth/jaw hurts. The pain moves around, but it is often on the left side.

I still get that horrible empty/starving feeling in the pit of my stomach.

The back of my head feels painful, and odd. Like my brain is swollen or moving around. Hard to describe.

My spine still hurts or burns (slightly) some mornings.

My thoughts are pretty bad all day, but the mornings are the worst. It’s all death, doom and gloom. I do my best to distract but I have very little control over my thoughts at this time. I do my best to tell myself they are just thoughts, they can’t hurt me, and they are not indicative of reality, but it is of little comfort.

I am not too anxious when I remain in bed. The anxiety kicks in when I get up and get going. I a still very weak when I stand in the shower. My heart rate goes up and my legs get shaky. I feel I could pass out some mornings.

Stress of any kind is hard to cope with. I went to dinner with a friend and she asked the waiter a million questions, keeping him at our table a long time. I got very anxious about it. Not mentally anxious, but rather in my body. Everything tenses up and the burning kicks in, the tingles, my head feels full of pressure, I feel dizzy. I have NEVER in my life had anything like this before this recovery syndrome started.

I still have head pressure and dizziness. Some days I feel I may be having a stroke, it is so intense. I do my best to remind myself it is just my brain and body recovering from benzo withdrawal, but some days it is hard not to believe I am slowly dying from some crazy illness.

I still have burning tongue. My hands still cramp up horribly.

I am still anxious (not my pre-existing) and depressed. The depression has been pitch black some days. It has gotten better.

My sleep is still not refreshing. I wake feeling groggy and a few hours later the exhaustion feels overwhelming.

My leg muscles still hurt. I still twitch.

My ears ring 24/7. I don’t think they will ever recovery. I do my best to ignore it.

I still have night sweats sometimes.

I get intrusive memories and thoughts. I still obsess.

I still get a feeling of a tight band around my head at times.

I am sure there are other things, but this is a good overview of how I feel.

When I started this journey I thought withdrawal was like having the flu: you get sick, rest, recover, go on with your life. I had zero idea that this was a “syndrome” and it could take many, many years to recover.

I have a crashed immune system. I believe the stress of withdrawal caused it. I am doing my best to repair it with good nutrition. I don’t know how to tease out what it causes and what down regulated GABA causes (or what ever else is going on due to the drug damage.)

Some mornings I wake up and feel I can’t go on another day. I dread my life. Other mornings I can talk myself into coping, somehow. Some days I still pray for death, and other days I pray for healing or for the strength to cope. I talk to God often during the day.

Some days I am 100% sure I will heal and go on to have a good life. Other days I am 100% sure this is my new normal and I will never be able to do much more than garden and curl up on my couch and write. Go to dinner close by once in a while. Or visit my kids once in awhile. I fear I will be sick the rest of my time here on the planet.

The worst symptom of all is the fear. It permeates everything. I do my best to give it over to God.

The evenings are better. The stress of the day is behind me. It is quiet. There is not much I have to do. I can watch a movie or write. I don’t have to talk to anyone.  I stay up till midnight often, enjoying the quiet. Some nights my body symptoms are pretty bad, other nights they are minimal. On the nights they are minimal, I stay up late enjoying it. I go to bed knowing I will wake up and it will start all over again.

I am doing my best to accept that I  have a major health issue that keeps me from doing and being all I want to do and be. I pray the serenity prayer often.

I have talked to those who have healed: Bliss, Don, Geraldine. Don healed the quickest. Geraldine said it took 11 years for her to feel recovered. She said she started getting better at 5 years off. I’ve been hearing five years from others too. A friend in AA jumped from 120 mgs of valium. She said the anxiety did not get better for 5 years. It finally went away. It’s hard to hear that I could have more years of this ahead of me. But that is a possibility.

When this wave of symptoms started, I felt utterly broken. I had thought I was almost healed. To be thrown back into the snake pit was more than I thought I could bear. But here I am. Coping.

I’ve been awake for an hour and a half. The heavy fatigue is now rolling in and my brain feels heavy in my skull. Thoughts are more difficult to sort through. I get pretty bad cog fog.

I’d give almost anything to be healthy in mind and body. I’d love to wake up and jump into my day, eager to do what needed to be done, to feel joy and happiness, to be at peace with my thoughts and feelings. I listen to my neighbors drive off to work and I am so envious. They are thinking of the day ahead. They are not obsessing about death, about illness. They are not burning and tingling. Their brains don’t feel damaged in their skulls.

Will I ever be healed? WIll I ever enjoy being alive again? Time will tell. I hope so. I pray so.  I pray that we all heal and go on to enjoy our lives.

 

Somethings Happening Here…

what it is ain’t exactly clear. (I used to love that song. If you don’t know it, go here:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bjSpO2B6G4s)

Something really IS happening here. I’m holding on for dear life, crossing myself, and putting garlic around my bed to ward off werewolves. I have NO idea what to expect in this crazy efffffffed up world of benzo recovery.

Here’s the latest: depression lifted like someone turned on (or off?) a switch. I mean, just like THAT. BOOM! Clear thoughts. I felt like ME. Sassy, creative, silly, zany…. ME… BUT..  since I am in benzo recovery ( I am tired of the word withdrawal. I’ve withdrawn already, now I’m recovering from the poison, thank you very much) nothing is quite what it seems. I’m ME, with a clear mind and a sense of happy and hope, but with an electrical current of 220 running through me like I’m the White House Christmas tree that needs to be lit up. Man, it’s just awful. It isn’t anxiety in the normal sense of the word, but it IS anxiety. Chemical anxiety. On top of that, I had severe tingling head to toe, burning skin that made me want to jump in a cold tub and never get out, even after I had pruned till I looked a million years old.

You got the picture?  Me, my essence, my spark, my soul… poked her head out, and took a look around all the while my body was back in it thick as thieves. Oh, and how can I forget, I also had the severe crushing sensation. I also had some strange muscle zap, that went through my chest that made me literally sit straight up and gasp it hurt so much.

It’s a crazy, crazy, crazy thing, this benzo recovery. A week ago I battled the blackest depression. Obsessed about death. Today, I had times of clear thinking and happy. I’m in here, people. I am trying OH SO HARD to get out and to stay out!

If any of you are battling a severe wave a long ways out from your last pill, hold on. I am proof that it can get better. I’m not out of the woods by a long shot, but at least my brain cleared up enough for me to get a sweet taste of who I used to be. Now if my body could only get the memo to lighten up a bit…

I feel like a yo-yo, up, down, sideways.
I burn so much right now that I am dreading going to bed. Will I wake at my usual 3 am time with the usual crap? Will tomorrow be any better? Worse? I guess I have to be brave enough to go to sleep to find out. ( I had dinner at my daughter’s house and I tucked her into bed before I left. Literally. It was precious. I was SO jealous, knowing that she sank into bed in that good tired way and that she will wake up tomorrow and get up and go about her day like normal people do. Like I used to do. SIgh.)

Nighty night my dear friends. I love you all so much. Let’s keep supporting each other on this lonely and frightening journey.

Midnight Musings

I’ve worked all evening on a new website for my friend’s business. It kept my mind busy. Good. I need that. Wish I could wake up with this much calm and quiet in my mind and body. But if tomorrow is anything like the (guesstimate) 3,593 days I’ve spent either trying to get off my benzo or recovering from the damage it did to my brain and body, it will be a challenge to navigate. I’ve gotten pretty good at coping with the burning, tingles, twitching, bone pain, muscle pain, spasms, ears screeching, funky vision, jaw pain, crushing feeling, mind-blowing fatigue, weakness, jelly legs, head pressure (you’re getting the idea I’m still fucked up, right? Right.) intrusive thoughts, intrusive memories, looping thoughts, and just all the other crazy silliness that goes with this whole syndrome. Oh, wait, did I forget the high anxiety? How can I forget that little darling? :)

What I know at this point is I still have healing to do. That being said, I have made changes in my life to better speed that process along. (Ok, not sure I can make it go faster, but I can sure make it easier for healing to happen.)

1. I don’t wear make up any more.

I know, you’re thinking, “Wha??? So big deal. What’s that got to do with healing?” For me? Plenty. I used to be SO wrapped up in how I looked. Not having a strong sense of my own self-worth, I hid behind a face that I was told was “pretty.” I remember years ago when my savings account was taking a hit (remember when the stock market went into freefall in ’08?) and I actually used to worry if I would have enough money to get botox and fillers. I kid you not. I wasn’t worried about my retirement plan, I was worried about my wrinkles! God forbid that I lost my looks. (I just giggled as I wrote that. It seems so amazingly shallow and silly. But it was where I was at at the time.) For me to go without makeup is a HUGE step in my healing my soul.

2. I don’t wear contacts anymore. I wear big funky glasses.

I could just copy and paste the above paragraph here. You get the idea… I am healing my infantile need to be special, pretty, etc.

3. I cut my hair Mia Farrow pixie short.

Yup. I asked my hairdresser (her name is Karma, soooo perfect for me!) to cut, cut, and cut some more. It’s super easy. Wash, condition, towel dry and finger comb it into place, put on my glasses (and clothes of course!) and I’m out the door. Now, once out, I have no idea where to go as I am so sick again, but by God, I am out the door.

4. I filter everything I do with one simple question: “Is it simple?”

Everything has to be simple for me to heal. I can’t do drama. I can’t do complicated. I need simple. I have backed away from teaching at Stanford again, attempting to consult at Google, coach anyone for any reason, or take on any job that demands more than my brain can handle. What I can handle is writing. I am now writing for others. I can do it curled on my couch, or out in the garden. Easy peasy.  I cook and eat simple. I dress simple. I even cleaned out every drawer and closet (not kidding, every single one!) and got rid of a mountain of crap I didn’t need, didn’t use, didn’t wear, didn’t like. My home is so airy and light, I love it. Simple.

5. Hold on to hope.

Almost every email I send to Don has some version of “I’ll never heal.. waaaa! Waaaa! Waaaaaaaaaaaa! in it. I admit. I lost hope. Totally. I’m only now getting it back in bits and pieces. I realize I have to stop writing or talking negative and get my brain back into positive mode. As long as I have life, there is hope!

6. Pray and mean it.

Don told me about a prayer he sent up to his creator. I said a similar prayer. I prayed that my creator would MAKE me surrender to his/her/its will for me. I don’t seem to have the bandwidth or enough courage, so my creator is going to have to do it for me. Sometimes I get scared to think what I am going to face, but I know, it will be ok. (Remind me to write a post about Kenny’s visit from heaven. it’s a goosebumps maker!)

7. Rinse, repeat.

Since I am a restless, irritable and discontented lass, (if those words ring out to you, you’ll get that I like Bill W. A lot!) and I muck things up because I want what I want, when I want it and how I want it. I have a hard time giving up control. I’ll most likely have to keep working at these things over and over. That’s ok. It’s not a race. It’s a life. It’s my life. And I am trying damn hard to make it meaningful, rich and full even on the days when I have so much fear and pain, and all I can do is cry on the couch. I may be sick but I still matter. Just as you still matter.

8. Last but not least, love.

I want to learn how to love me better. I want to learn to love even this time of my life. Instead of hating it, I want to love it, just like the way I love my four children. I am tired of all of the negative energy in my life, caused by my fear, my illness, my weakness, my lack of faith, my need to control…. etc…… LOVE cures all. I believe it can cure my brain damage if I give it a chance.

It’s after 1 a.m. Time to call it a day. I’m going to predict that tomorrow is a better day than today. How’s that for a positive thought? :)

To infinity and beyond!

 

You’ve Got To Be Kidding Me.

When the big quake of ’89 shook San Francisco, I was in the hospital almost 8 months pregnant with my twins. It had been a high risk pregnancy as my water had broken at 18 weeks. I spent months bedridden, doing my best to be a good mother to my 2 and 3-year-old running around the house. We were adding on a second story to make more room for our growing family and the constant construction didn’t help my stress level.

My doctor put me in the hospital for observation as I was spilling protein, a sign that I was developing pre-eclampsia. It was a quiet afternoon, like thousands of others before it. The A’s and the Giant’s were facing off at Candlestick for the Worlds Series. Suddenly, life as we all knew it shattered with the ground shaking. I hate remembering the fear I felt standing in the hospital doorway, holding on to the bucking building as best as I could. I knew in my heart that my twins and I  were doing to die. I had struggled so hard to get them to a viable gestation and now, we three would perish.

I’m writing this blog almost 25 years later, so we didn’t become victims to the earthquake. At least not with our lives. But I became a victim with fear. I had a wicked case of PTSD. Two weeks after the quake, the twins were born and I put myself into therapy. Immediately all of my past traumas came pouring out of me like a river intent on destroying the dam that holds it back. I had a hard time coping with the feelings. A few years later, when I decided to leave my emotionally abusive marriage, the panic attacks became too much to bear. A visit to the doctor remedied that. Enter Klonopin into my life.

And here I am, 38 months out yesterday, doing my best to heal a damaged CNS. It’s been up and down and sideways. I was getting better last spring. The morning anxiety was much better and the intrusive thoughts and doom and gloom was lifting. I thought I may have a chance at a decent, drug free life. But I pushed too much. My system still needed time to settle down. I got hit with a major wave in June. A lot of my old symptoms came back. I was devastated.

I’ve been babying myself, spending a lot of time curled on my couch resting. I don’t do a lot that will upset my system. I avoid people, places and things that are too stimulating for me. I was just starting to turn a few corners in the afternoons and evenings at least, In fact, yesterday, my 38 month off anniversary, I had one of the best evenings I have had in a very long time. I kept my mind busy and I was able to relax in my body more than I have been able to for many months. I had almost zero tinglings, twitching, burning, etc. It was heaven!

I went to bed and wrote a quick prayer and thank you to God, saying thanks for a good night. I prayed that I could wake up the next day with little anxiety. I went to sleep so hopeful! After almost 4 years of being benzo sick (counting taper) I am SO ready for a good night’s sleep and to wake up calm and happy to start the day.

I woke up at my usual time, close to three thirty, to some mild tingles. I was assessing how I felt when the house started shaking and the earth roared. Quake! My mind raced back to ’89. The shaking gained momentum and it went on and on and on and on….

My benzo sx started up immediately. Burning skin, tingles, hot sweats, flushes, jaw pain, etc. etc. my old anxiety was always a racing heart and shaky legs. Now its colored with benzo sx from a damaged CNS. I lay in bed, terrified and thought, “Really? You’ve got to be kidding me!” I had ONE decent afternoon and evening and was hoping against hope to cobble a few more together. Doesn’t look like that will be happening today.

I went out in the garden and sat in the rocking chair. I looked at the stars. I prayed. I did my best to calm down. I heard neighbors up and about, but didn’t talk to anyone. I texted with my children. My daughter was in Napa, staying with girlfriends. The house she was in sustained damage inside and forced them to seek shelter at a neighbors. She called me in tears. I understood all too well the fear of the ground below you shaking so violently.

I finally went into the house and crawled back into bed. My body was on fire from head to toe. I slept fitfully a few more hours then woke up to face another day of benzo recovery. And I suppose, I am facing my own emotional recovery from the quake that was the start of my nervous approach to life. I have run some errands this morning with shaky legs, rumination thoughts about death, life, whats the point etc.. and I am doing my best to cope with the increased burning, tingling, dizziness and weakness.

The immature side of me wants to pout and get angry with God. But the mature side of me sees this as an opportunity to heal and grow. I am doing my best to float above the anxiety as I know I am safe right here, right now. I am doing my best to ignore the catastrophic thoughts and understand they are generated from a brain that has too little GABA available presently to keep things calm.

I have never liked living in the Bay Area. It has never felt like home. Home is in the Rocky Mountains. If my four children were not here, I’d be long gone. I’ve got to come to grips with the fact that we live on shaky ground. ( I had finally gotten to the point where I could drive over the bridge and overpasses without thinking about them collapsing in a quake!)  But it’s not just the ground shaking that I dislike. It’s the fast paced, tech focused, highly expensive lifestyle that everyone is so caught up in. It makes for healing from the damage done by benzos a challenge. I’d prefer to be living in a log cabin tucked on the hillside of a mountain, watching the leaves turn as the seasons change.

I can’t believe I am facing one of my biggest past traumas, just as I was feeling as if things were going to settle down. God has a mighty strange sense of humor.

I pray for everyone who was injured or had property damage. I pray for those whose nerves are strained. I hope no one develops PTSD from this quake. Anxiety is the biggest thief. It takes away the joy of living. I’m ready to kick its ass to the curb and grab some joy. If only I can get my CNS to go along with that plan! I am doing my best. Breathing slow, resting, changing my thoughts, and doing all I can to hold on to the hope that one day, my brain and body will recover from almost 2 decades of prescribed medication.

This too shall pass. I just wish to God it would hurry the f%#@ up and go already!

 

 

Don’s Prayer And Then Some…

I am posting this without talking to Don. I am sure he will jump in and give some feedback, perhaps edit it. I lifted his words from his latest post. I need to pray them every, many times over.

(Don’t words) Dear My Creator,
If I am going to survive this, you will have to do it all – every bit of it. I have nothing. Nothing. If I survive, I will never be able to say I exerted any part of my own self-will or power – not even the slightest amount.

(my words)
I surrender to the process of healing. I surrender to the process of going back out into the world and putting my life back together as you want the pieces to be placed.

I give you everything in my heart and soul, as I am powerless over this illness and recovery. I put my life into your hands and I ask that you create out of me and my life, something that is pleasing to you. I am wet clay, shivering, frightened, and weak, but I am here, showing up, saying, “I give you all of me. Shape me. Mold me into that which is pleasing to you.”

I am grateful for this amazing body that knows how to heal.
I am grateful for the love in my life.
I am grateful for my life.

I ask for nothing other than to have the courage to live your will for me.

Your daughter,

Jennifer

 

No Superman Here

By Don Killian

Well, the manuscript for the novel has been written. It was completed a couple weeks ago. So, I now have more time to reflect on life. Shortly after the book-writing was completed, I reached my fourth anniversary of being benzo-free. It felt like a double celebration of sorts. I posted a healing update on Benzobuddies which I will not repeat here. There are other things to write.

In the past few weeks, I have spent a lot of time on the phone with others who are currently in withdrawal. (Some phone calls I took during the writing of the book – primarily first-time callers and a few individuals whom I’ve known for a long time and who are very special to me.) I have spent many hours messaging with others. As I looked through my email yesterday, I noticed that this blog was once again available to read and that Dr. Jenn was posting again. I didn’t immediately see the post in which the reference to Superman was made.

I rolled that around in my head much of the day and into the evening. I was going to post something last night, but I decided to listen to some 70s music instead. I wasn’t sure what to write, so I thought it best to let it “ferment” a bit longer in my brain until it was ready.

When I went to bed last evening, I was “stressing” a bit about getting the book edited. Earlier in the day, I had acknowledged that all I have experienced and all the good things that have been accomplished since I became well have not been the result of me “striving” and trying to “force” things to happen (although I have done that at times with near-disastrous consequences). When I have been able to just “step back,” allow things to happen, and simply have a ”willingness” to take part in them when it was obvious that I should do so, amazing things have taken place. Truths have been revealed and circumstances have materialized in ways that I never could have orchestrated or even imagined. All I have had to do is “wait for it to happen” and then go forward (much like withdrawal healing). (There was no going forward in my withdrawal until the “stage was set” and I had some strength to do so, but that’s another story.)

So, as I lay there in bed, I recalled that acknowledgment I had made earlier in the day. In a few moments, the name of someone in my own family who loves to read more than anything else in life popped into my head. She is my niece, and she is extremely talented. When I got out of the service in 1977, I lived with her family for the summer. She was eight or nine. We played all kinds of games. The one I recall most vividly was Connect 4. Time after time she pummeled me mercilessly. I only won one game out of dozens, and I’m pretty sure she let me win that one to show that she wasn’t completely heartless. She didn’t like to lose. Neither did Uncle Don, but Uncle Don was given no choice. When it comes to cerebral endeavors, she is probably on the top of the Killian heap. (I was just contacted by one of the characters in my story who has also agreed to help with editing. She literally saved my life.)

I have met dozens of extremely talented individuals on the withdrawal forums and blogs who would normally be quite capable of providing editing help. I have sent the manuscript to a few and have found that the opening chapters are too intense and seem to rev symptoms. I have also given it to a couple others to read and comment/edit.

Anyway, I have once again gotten sidetracked and started down another path. Time for a course adjustment.

When I was somewhere around six months or so off the Klonopin, I was extremely despondent. I had not gotten even one second of relief from the mental torture and had really not even known of anyone who got through withdrawal (except for one guy I met online who never really explained how he did it – only that it was hell). One morning, as I was pacing endlessly back and forth between our bedroom and our daughter’s old bedroom, I “came to the end of myself.” I knew that I did not have even the smallest bit of strength or fortitude left. I was completely devoid of any earthly means of surviving. I was simply done. I stopped in my daughter’s old bedroom and “put out” a statement of fact to my Creator: “If I am going to survive this, you will have to do it all – every bit of it. I have nothing. Nothing. If I survive, I will never be able to say I exerted any part of my own self-will or power – not even the slightest amount.” I was not begging to survive. I was not dealing. I was not promising. I was simply stating the truth.

As I have healed, I have seen many amazing things occur in my life and the lives of others within my sphere. I have been given the opportunity and privilege to have a part in many of those things. I wrote an entire novel in four months while doing all kinds of other life things. That is staggering to me. But it all goes back to that “statement of fact” prayer.

It is tempting to assert that I exerted my will and strength as I was in withdrawal and pulled myself through. It is equally tempting to maintain that the enormous mental and physical energy that I have obtained since I have healed is evidence of my superior power and strength. Nothing could be more false. I was as weak as a human could be. There was no lower place for me to go except the grave.

In withdrawal, there are no Supermen or Wonder Women. There is only the desperate grasping on to hope from others. During that time, the Creator renewed my strength. It was not my doing. It was my Creator’s gift to me.

This has been an incredibly spiritual experience for me – one that has defied my own human logic – one that my mind cannot comprehend or begin to evaluate with any certainty. One thing that I have learned is that there is a vast difference between “that which is me” (call it spirit or soul) and that with which I think and comprehend (call it mind or human reason). I’m not even sure they are connected in any way.

I am certain that the energy and strength that I now possess is, in some spiritual way, superhuman because it comes from a superhuman source. My withdrawal experience was a spiritual journey (although it seemed like it was only physical, mental and emotional anguish at the time). In that regard, it is available to all who make it to this side of withdrawal and even to those going through withdrawal. I had read it in many success stories. It is true.

There is nothing any more special about me than there is about anyone else. I simply healed, and the strength given to me and to others who have gotten through withdrawal (even post-acute withdrawal from alcohol) is easy to discern.