I celebrated 23 months of benzo freedom on the 23rd. I’d like to say that I am 100% healed, but that’s not the case. I still have a laundry list of symptoms, but I am coping better with them.  I continue to garden every day, and to slowly… slowly… ease my way into my work.

I look back on the past two years in utter disbelief. How could this nightmare have happened? How can it be legal for a doctor to prescribe a medication that harms us so deeply? Pot smokers are in jail, yet MDs can hand these pills like like candy. It still boggles my mind. It still disturbs me to think that doctors ignore what thousands of people are saying all around that world: benzos destroy lives.

I often want to write a letter to the doctor who first prescribed Klonopin, and inform him of his negative impact on my life.  However, I spoke to him in my taper, and he asked if I had anxiety symptoms. I told him, “Of course.” He said he treats anxiety, not help people get off meds who need them. When I mentioned that Professor Ashton noted that even people who had no pre-existing anxiety were anxious in their tapers, he said “She is a kook.” I doubt a letter explaining my ill health from benzo withdrawal will change his mind, or his prescribing habits. Which is a shame.

I vacillate between wanting to be an activist to help change the prescribing laws for benzos, to wanting to close this ugly chapter and never mention the word benzo,Klonopin, or withdrawal ever again. I’m sure when I am more healed I will know what is the next right step in that regard. Until then, I cobble my days together, one moment at a time. I cope with the burning, tingling, pain, fatigue, muddy hearing, memory problems, ringing ears, depression, anxiety, organic fear, and sense of unreality as best as I can. The gardening most definitely helps me distract and have a purpose amid days that threaten to turn empty, hopeless, and the worst, Godless.

If you want to create a summer garden, I can’t recommend Anniesannuals.com enough. Big bang for your buck flowers are nicotiana, marigolds, sunflowers, and cosmos. You can buy these at your local “big box” hardware store or nursery, but like the dirty secrets in medicine, there are dirty secrets about nurseries. Most of the big box stores carry plants that have been spayed with growth retardant so they have a longer shelf life at the nursery. When you take one of these plants home, (and you wont know you have) the plant will never reach its full potential. Also, most plants have already started blooming in their containers at the big box stores.  That means energy went into the blooms, not the roots, and you will have a less than fabulous plant once it begins to grow in your yard. That’s why I shop at Annies almost exclusively. I’m blessed that she is only 45 minutes away by car. She is also only a quick few clicks of the mouse away online, and her plants arrive in stellar shape within a few days after  I order. She can ship to you too.

I use the garden as my exercise, meditation space, metaphor for my life and healing, as well as the community gathering space. Every morning I push open the door with a curious heart, wondering what has bloomed. What has died? What needs attention. What birds, bees or squirrels will greet me? I am more able to ignore the bone pain that makes me hobble in the early mornings when I know I am headed out to my garden.

I clearly have more healing ahead of me. However, I have more time of relative normal every day. Sometimes its an hour, sometimes only a few minutes. I am grateful no matter how long it lasts.

I hope each and every one of you are finding ways to distract, to still be grateful, and to feel you have a purpose still. Because you do. No matter how dismal life feels, there is still a rich undercurrent of love running in your heart. I know that 100%. It’s there. It just may feel very far away. It took me many many months to find mine again. I had the typical benzo existential angst. Life was meaningless and God was a bitch. That was my benzo thinking. Thankfully that has passed. If you have it it will pass for you too.

If you need someone to talk to, I am here. Drop me a line. Let me know how are doing.

Happy healing… happy planting.