Not much ruffles my feathers these days. I’ve survived a cold-turkey withdrawal from the clonazepam I took as prescribed. I can’t imagine a more horrific experience to live through. The mental, physical, and emotional benzo withdrawal symptoms are more diabolical than anything Stephen King could dream up. They are so horrifying and bizarre that those of us who have experienced them understand the statement “truth is stranger than fiction.” Not everyone who takes a benzo will experience withdrawal, that’s true. (There isn’t any research that proves conclusively what DNA differences allows one brain to go unscathed while another is decimated.) Maybe that’s why some people, doctors included, have a hard time believing those of us who do suffer. It’s too easy to dismiss our benzo withdrawal symptoms as pre-existing conditions, a new mental or physical illness, or that we’re making it up; it’s “all in our head.” Recently I replied to a friend’s Facebook post about benzo withdrawal and a stranger answered my comment and claimed that my information about withdrawal was an opinion (not a fact, not real) and I lost my shit—feathers ruffled big time.

I ruminated over the stranger’s comment; angry and sad that in this day in age, benzo withdrawal is still not recognized as an iatrogenic illness which can be life altering and even life-endangering. I wanted to reply to the stranger how I went from having a growing career as a leading expert in my field, on television and radio, interviewed by top-tier media, with books to my name and high paying coaching clients to bedridden, unable to take care of the most basic of human needs. I had to cut off my hair because I was too weak to stand in the shower to wash it, and in too much pain to hold a hairdryer to style it. I went days without brushing my teeth because it hurt my arm and my fingers to hold a toothbrush. And, there were days I went without eating because I was too weak to walk to my kitchen. I’ll never forget the early morning I called my son to come over to help me to the bathroom. He scooped my frail bones out of the bed and carried me to the toilet where he graciously held me and turned his head while I relieved myself. Then there were the long and harsh years of recovery that I lived through. I wanted to tell the stranger who wrote that benzo withdrawal is just an opinion, that her words rob those of us who have been harmed by a benzodiazepine of our most basic human dignity. I was angry with her words because they dismissed the millions of people who have lived through the horror of benzo withdrawal and had to rebuild their lives from the ashes. Her words disrespected those whose lives were lost to benzo withdrawal.

I thought about the stranger’s comment for a few days and decided not to reply to it. What was the point in getting locked in a heated argument on social media? I knew I had little chance to change her mind. No, arguing with people who don’t want to believe that benzo withdrawal is a real phenomenon is a waste of time. But the persistent sharing of facts about benzo withdrawal is not a waste of time. Sharing hope with others who are suffering in benzo withdrawal is not a waste of time either. So, I continue to do both. I blog about benzo withdrawal in hopes of educating those who want to be educated, and I share hope, the knowledge, that we do recover, in time.

Withdrawal from a benzodiazepine is a fact. Millions of people experience it. Just because some people can take a benzo and not experience withdrawal doesn’t mean that those of us who do experience withdrawal are “making it up.” Not everyone who smokes cigarettes will get cancer, but we know that those who do, aren’t “making it up.” And, we know that the medical profession used to advertise cigarettes! One day, hopefully in the not too distant future, the medical profession will come to understand that their endorsement of benzodiazepines by way of prescribing them, is on par with their wrong and disastrous endorsement of nicotine. #benzowithdrawalisreal #benzowithdrawalisnotanopinion