Yesterday I quietly celebrated 13 months free from almost 2 decades of using a benzo (as prescribed.) I was told in my mid thirties that I had a “bad brain” that produced panic attacks and the cure was 2 mgs of Klonopin. If I could sue the doctor who sentenced me to a life of sedation and then a nightmare recovery, I would. However in the U.S. I doubt any of us wounded by a benzo will find justice.
My healing journey has been the most difficult thing I have ever done, and other than dying, I can not image anything will be more spiritual. I have traveled to the bowels of hell, and I am now climbing out. I am not completely healed, however events of the past few days have renewed my hope that healing is possible.
My journey began in October 2010. I had been in tolerance a very long time and did not understand my growing anxiety and ill health was due to my prescription medication. Red wine at night took the edge off of my body shakes, fatigue and clouded thinking. But it was taking more red wine to feel good. I woke up one morning hung over and I knew I had to stop. Once I stopped drinking, it was very clear the little green pill at night had to stop as well. I tapered following a doctors orders, and found myself in an altered state of consciousness and very weak. Fear, as in a state, not in response to anything, was a constant companion. I kept tapering over eight months. I became bedridden and lived in an anxious, panicky state. I lost weight, muscle mass and mostly, I lost hope that I would ever enjoy life again. When I could stand the taper no longer, I sought an addiction doctor who promised and easy way out. I believed him. It turned out I knew more about GABA receptors, the Ashton Manual, and benzo withdrawal than he did. (He wanted to put me on Lyrica, or Neurontin. I had to educate him that both of those medications worked on GABA and would hinder my healing and possibly throw me deeper into suffering.) I did agree to taking phenobarbital to ensure I had no seizures and I stopped my klonopin cold on June 22, 2011. Five days later, I wanted to die. And every day thereafter for almost 13 months, I have prayed for God to stop my heart while I sleep and take me home.
One day I will write about my journey. But not yet. I am still healing. The horrors are still too fresh. Some have not left completely, but they are more tolerable now. I am slowly going back to work and engaging in life, but it is challenging. I am still quite sick in mind, body and soul. However, I DO know we all heal, in time. Something has been stirring in me lately that reminds me I used to be creative, funny, kind, a big dreamer, deeply spiritual, loving, and hopeful about life. After 21 months of feeling as if death were an exhale away, the hope feels crazy good.
I will blog again soon. I want to give hope to all those walking this lonely stretch of highway with me. I know the mental anguish you suffer. I know the isolation you feel. I know the depths of suffering that others around you can not begin to understand.
Take my hand. I will walk with you. Together we will get to the other side to claim a healthy mind, body and spirit.
You may want to join benzobuddies.org for support. Or check out recovery-road. org.
A good book to read for more help is Bliss John’s Book, Recovery and Renewal.
We do heal. It just takes so much time, patience and hope.
Don’t quit before your miracle.