I celebrated two years of benzo freedom on June 23. I am not healed, but I am not defeated.
I still have many of the symptoms that began during my taper, as well as some that arrived after my eventual cold turkey. I am still unable to work very much, but I am hopeful that one day I can resume a normal life. The biggest challenge is not being able to plan anything as I have no idea how I will feel on any given day or time. The uncertainly is hard, yet I do my best to embrace it and realize it is what it is.
My fatigue is crushing at times. The burning and tingling can be a challenge to cope with, but I do my best to distract. The bone and muscle pain on the other hand is difficult to ignore, no matter how hard I try. The mental weirdness comes and goes, and for the most part, I am able to distance my “true self” from it and know that it is simply the workings of a brain doing its best to heal.
I remind myself that doctors kept me on Klonopin for almost 2 decades. My healing is taking the course it needs to repair from all the damage over so many years. I know this. Yet, there are days when I am impatient. Or frightened. I want so much to be back at work full-time. I have created a handful of websites and attempted a few excursions back into employment, but I have not been able to sustain very much forward motion as the pain, brain fog, and fatigue derail me. I am however, doing something every day to birth my new company and create the vision I had in 2002. The fear kicks in when I tell myself that I will never heal, that this is as good as it is going to get. When I believe that thought, I feel hopeless and defeated. I can’t imagine another 20 or 30 years of these symptoms. Some days I want to go to a doctor to make sure I don’t have MS, or CFS, or a brain tumor, or cancer….. but I never pick up the phone and make an appointment because I know my symptoms are shared by others in benzo withdrawal. Nor do I trust allopathic medicine, with all of its pills. So I keep telling myself I am healing, and do my best to believe it.
Some days I convince myself I am close to the finish line. I remind myself of just how very, very, very sick I was during the last of my taper, and how god freaking awful it was when I cold turkeyed. I am, without a doubt, better. On some days, I am much better. But for the most part, I still have a journey ahead of me. I take it one day at a time. One step at a time. I have learned what helps me cope: gardening, community, friends….. and a strong reliance on my Higher Power to give me the strength to keep going. So far, I have been graced with that strength.
Hopefully, before too long, I will be posting a success story. I will be able to say I am back at work, healed and healthy. Until then, I keep putting one stubborn foot in front of the other. There is nothing else to do, other than to make the best of this mess, and to believe that one day, it will end.