I’m not usually negative. I work arduously at being positive, sharing with you that you will recover and lead wonderful, happy lives. Because you will. But today, I’m tired. My eyes and ears have witnessed so much suffering in the benzo community. And, of course, I remember my own gruesome withdrawal and BIND experience.
Yes, I’m tired. Tired of the ignorance of the medical community. Tired of Big Pharma’s hold on the medical community. Tired of the energy required to try to pry open the eyes and minds of the medical community and the backlash that comes from telling the truth. I’m tired of profits over people.
The truth is that benzodiazepines harm about half the people who take them. We aren’t talking about people who abuse them. We are talking about people taking a benzo as prescribed by their doctor—the doctor who says they need a benzo like a diabetic needs insulin or that the drug is like taking a vitamin. (I don’t know any vitamin with a tortuous withdrawal syndrome, do you? And no one needs a benzo like a diabetic needs insulin.) Or the doctor who doesn’t say anything while prescribing—no mention of chemical dependency, tolerance, or a brutal withdrawal and recovery syndrome.
I’ve been in the benzo community for twelve years. I’ve heard from thousands of people around the world who have been harmed by taking a benzo. Their stories are painfully similar—the cluster of common symptoms that withdrawal and BIND (benzodiazepine-induced neurological dysfunction) cause, the fear they will never recover, the lost income/career, the (thankfully temporary) disabilities, the lack of understanding of friends and family, and the ignorance (and sometimes arrogance) of medical professionals. It’s challenging to recover from an iatrogenic (doctor-caused) brain injury.
What can those harmed by a benzodiazepine do in the face of so many challenges? We embrace the four cornerstones of well-being and practice patience and acceptance.
The four cornerstones of well-being are, eat right, move enough, stress less, and love well.
Let’s take a good look at them.
Eat right. A whole-food, plant-based diet is the healthiest diet for all human beings. All animal products, eggs, dairy, and flesh from fish, fowl, or mammals, cause inflammation in the body. Those products are the leading cause of our lifestyle illnesses like heart disease, cancer, type II diabetes, autoimmune disorders, etc. A WFPB diet nourishes the gut microbiome, helping the gut/brain axis perform at its best. If you are interested in learning more, visit nutritionfacts.org. Watch the movies, The Game Changers and Forks Over Knives. (Members of my Heal With Dr. Jenn support/group coaching group have free access to a thirty-day course in moving over to a WFPD diet.)
Move enough. Exercise has been proven to be a big contributor to our health. It is also a way in which we metabolize stress hormones, which we have a lot of in benzo withdrawal/BIND! We want to find our “Goldilocks” amount of exercise— not too much, not too little. This will vary from one person to another and may vary for individuals on any day. The goal is to move the body gently. Walking, swimming, stretching, yoga, and other gentle movements are the best. Vigorous cardio or weight training can increase symptoms and should be avoided until one is healed.
Stress Less. Reducing stress in all areas of our lives is a good thing. Avoid social media, negative benzo forums, the news, politics, confrontations, energy vampires, loud noises, too much stimulation, etc. Protecting your fragile nervous system is important. Understanding your autonomic nervous system is also important. That is why I teach my clients and support group members polyvagal theory. Knowing that “state drives story” helps us better cope with intrusive thoughts, anxiety, depression, guilt, shame, etc., that we feel in withdrawal/BIND. Acceptance and patience go a long way to reducing stress, too. Fighting with life, with reality, only stirs up our nervous system even more.
Love well. The fourth cornerstone is, I believe, the least understood. Most people think it means to feel love, but actually, it means to BE love. Being love means we are kind, caring, compassionate, forgiving, grateful, humble, serving others, and generous. It also means that we are curious, filled with awe and wonder. These ways of being in the world are an outward focus. It’s not about us. This outward focus helps our nervous system move out of the protect state of fight, flight, freeze and into the connect state, which is a ventral vagal response. The connect state is our default state. It is where we are the healthiest and happiest. These ways of being can grow more connections to a region in our brain that helps to reduce anxiety and depression. Embracing the fourth cornerstone also means we are more likely to have healthy relationships with others. That is critical, as a healthy connection with others is a biological imperative. We are designed to need one another. The Golden Rule of social neuroscience is that a regulated nervous system will co-regulate a dysregulated nervous system. This is why we feel better when we are in the presence of someone we feel safe with and they are calm and comforting.
Yes, my friends, I am tired. The needless suffering breaks my heart and burdens my soul. But it doesn’t stop me. I am on a crusade to help those who have been damaged by a benzodiazepine or any other psych med. I am dedicated to reducing suffering and educating the medical community about the dangers of benzodiazepines and the health benefits of the four cornerstones of well-being. At the first of the year, I roll out a course for therapists and coaches so they can better help their patients and clients.
Just because we can’t stop the medical community’s ignorance and harm today doesn’t mean that we won’t stop it SOMEDAY. I’ll never give up the fight.
I’ll never stop believing in and loving you.
Keep healing. We really do recover. I’m living proof, as are millions more.