June 23 is always a happy day! It is the day I celebrate being benzo free. This June, I celebrate eleven years! I can’t believe that much time has passed. I am incredibly grateful for each day that I’ve been benzo free.
If you aren’t familiar with my story, here it is: I was put on 2 mg of Klonopin In my early thirties for anxiety/panic. I had past trauma and some PTSD that tagged along with it. At first, Klonopin was, what I thought, a miracle drug. It stopped my panic and anxiety. I was able to function better, which was a good thing, as I was a recently divorced single mom with four young children less than four years apart, including a set of twins.
I stayed on 2 mg for about nine years. I moved my family from California to Colorado and felt I didn’t need the medication anymore. Over the course of a few days I cut out the morning dose, then the afternoon dose, and finally, the bedtime dose. Seventy-two hours after stopping, all hell broke loose! I had no idea what was happening. I called my therapist who told me I needed the medication and so I reinstated 1 mg at bedtime. I don’t recall anyone telling me I was in a cold turkey withdrawal.
Fast forward nine years. I was sick with tolerance withdrawal and saw doctor after doctor. No one told me my ill health was from the benzo I had dutifully taken as prescribed. To make matters worse, my drinking habits had escalated. I was drinking three to four glasses of wine every night and more on the weekends. (My poor GABA receptors!) I went to AA. and got sober on October 13, 2010. A few days after, I started tapering my benzo.
My doctor told me to cut one-quarter of my tablet every week. (This is the taper schedule for opioids, but horrible for benzos!) On the eighth day, I had cut one-half of my dose! I was terribly sick. I managed to get down to .325 but was bedridden and in bad shape. Another doctor told me to taper back up until I was more stable. I tapered to .9 and then started a slower water taper. I got down to .650 or so but was worse off than ever before! (Kindling is real!) I saw yet another doctor who gave me phenobarbitol and cold-turkeyed me. He told me I could detox at home and I’d be fine. Three days later I was rushed to the ER and admitted to the hospital for a week. I hallucinated for weeks, stuck in a nightmare hell of terror, pain, confusion, panic, and derealization.
My recovery was long and included more stays in hospitals. But I DID recover!
I’m a huge advocate for the four cornerstones of well-being: eat right, move enough, stress less, and love well. (Each cornerstone has layers and nuances to them.) I’ve been coaching in the benzo community for quite some time, and I run a live group coaching/support group on Discord. It’s unlike any other support group that I know— it’s solution-focused with a lot of benefits. I’m proud of what the group has created!
Life post-benzos is wonderful! I am the healthiest and happiest I’ve ever been: sober, anxiety/panic, and med free! I am living proof that we can rewire our nervous system and overcome the past issues that landed us in a doctor’s office where we were prescribed a benzo.
There is much happening in the benzo community these days! The FDA has black-boxed benzos. More doctors are learning about the dangers and damages benzo can cause. Legislation is being passed around the drugs, as well as education being offered. It has been a slow, seemingly uphill battle to get the medical community on board, but it’s happening!. I’m grateful for all the people who are working to educate and change the prevailing prescribing and withdrawing practices.
If you need help getting off your benzo, or help to cope with benzo withdrawal symptoms, I’d be happy to help you.
You can book a 1:1 session here:https://live.vcita.com/site/drjenn/online-scheduling
You can join my group here: https://benzowithdrawalhelp.com/mornings-with-jenn-2/
Life after benzos is sweeter than ever! I used the time in my recovery to not only heal from the benzo I took, but to heal from my past and to transform my life. The four cornerstones of well-being are my guides every day. They keep me happy and healthy! They can help you, too!