January 2020 on
Those that know me will know that I don’t believe in labelling us as warriors. I understand why it’s a term that is often used in benzo withdrawal but the noun ‘warrior’ has a dictionary meaning of a soldier or fighter albeit a brave one. I feel, and this is a personal observation, that we shouldn’t fight all this, we shouldn’t take up battle against our symptoms as this can worsen them. It causes us to focus on them, scream and shout at them and try to control them with any ammunition or tools we have at hand.
From my own experience there has been no doubt that trying to fight the unending symptoms that my body threw up over a long period of time only caused them to become worse and may even have slowed any recovery. Controlling them with anything has mostly set me back into an even greater hell. On the other hand accepting what is happening to me and allowing the symptoms to wax and wane in their own time and trying my best to divert away from them and let them be may have helped them pass faster. This is always with the proviso that medical confirmation shows nothing else is wrong of course. If you get the all clear then perhaps best to give up the fight, escape the groups, talk to friends and let your recovery unfold. It doesn’t have to be a battle.
Are you brave enough to let go of a fighting stance and accept what is for the time being? This will be far less stimulating for the Central Nervous System and allow healing to take place.
We’re having a new kitchen at long last. Today the old kitchen is being taken out. It’s dusty, noisy and disruptive but we’re coping. It’s going to take awhile before the new kitchen is installed so we have to put up with the mess and work around it. Eventually the walls will need replastering and painting and shiny, granite worktops installed. Quite a process.
Why am I telling you this? Benzo withdrawal and recovery are also a renovation process. The old has to be removed, sometimes ripped out in a painful process to allow space for the new to take over and become our normality. It may happen slowly, one part of the body and brain at a time, or it may overwhelm us all at once with a multitude of symptoms. Whatever happens space is being created for a fresh, new start.
It is important to remember while this takes place not to slow the workmen down, let them do their job, don’t add to their confusion as they need to be able to get on as quickly as possible. Once completed my kitchen will be a much better and workable area just as the body and brain will be cleared of the debris left by perhaps years of benzos and become a wonderful, calm, clear, and beautiful space which allows us to experience life to the full again.
#Getting in the way of your own healing.
#Step aside, let it happen.
#Don’t fight it.
I’m seeing this more and more as time goes by and I continue to be involved with the benzo world. Healing happens faster if you do nothing! I believe it’s possible to get in the way of your own healing and this isn’t just about slowing it down with further drugs and chemicals but also with trying to control it with many of the so called ‘healing practices’. Of course it can be supported with good food, diversion and hobbies you enjoy, exercise and the such like but perhaps better not to try and change anything? Leaving this open as a question.
I’ve written before about seeking ways to control the anxiety by using such practices as EFT, CBT, neurofeedback, binaural beats, affirmations, and the various other anxiety techniques out there but it came to me, while lying in bed this morning, that all these are doing is trying to control what the body and brain want to release and could actually be another way that’s preventing full recovery happening faster than we would like. Very controversial I know especially as some people rely on these practices to get them through a bad patch. Knowing how I’ve recovered I believe that trying to control my symptoms with tapping, breathing and so forth actually may have added more stress e.g. ‘Am I dong this right?’ ‘What should I say next?’, and so forth. Even meditation is a way of possibly trying to control our thoughts and something we must do each day or it won’t ‘work’. Maybe too far fetched I don’t know but worth throwing out there as a possibility.
If we stand aside, watch what’s happening from deep within ourselves and don’t try and control this by any means whatsoever either drug based, physical, or mind control intervention would we heal faster? I don’t know the answer but I do know that the body is a miraculous machine with systems that work hard every day to keep us conscious in this world. The body knows what it’s doing and what it needs to do to bring us to health. There are times when of course intervention may be needed but there are also times, as in benzo withdrawal, when it just needs to release trauma, sort out systems that have been controlled and impacted by a drug and regain normal status quo. Maybe It wants to be left in peace to do this.
Whatever the truth of all this we know that healing happens in your own time so let your own healing unfold as it will and remember it’s not a battle to be won, it’s a journey of discovery to be completed without adding road blocks along the way. The destination is worth it.
I’ve never denied being in a long protracted withdrawal after 40 years of Benzos plus many other drugs in the early years, many times kindled, a severe tolerance then cold turkey off nearly 7 years 2 months ago and now 74 years old. I started Benzos for sleep in 1972 after a traumatic childbirth, consequent hysterectomy and early menopause. I have been supported in my recovery by Heather Ashton (through emails in the early years), Una Corbett, Ian Singleton, Barry Haslam, a Cornish volunteer lady plus I still talk to Baylissa Frederick. All have been amazing support and sources of hope for me that we all recover from Benzos however long it takes.
My whole journey, until the present day, is recorded on my Blog here as well as my daily journals since 2011. All through this time I’ve talked to numerous sufferers, researched and read current literature and been joined by my husband David (a physiologist and mathematician) in helping others through. I talked on benzo buddies for help in the early months and have been a member of a few Facebook support groups before starting my own in 2016.
That’s the background! Today my health is very good. I have no physical health problems that are common to my age i.e. no arthritis, no pain, a very good immune system, no deficiencies as shown in blood tests and haven’t talked to a doctor for over a year. I am on no drugs or supplements at this moment in time.
I do still have the occasional bad nights with insomnia and internal vibrations left over from my long and difficult recovery. This means I can still be very tired at times. I do call them waves to friends but I don’t think they are the waves that happened when in the throws of withdrawal. My nervous system is also quite fragile although much stronger than when on benzos and I don’t react to anxiety just pass through it. I should stress that during my recovery I have moved house nearly 260 miles across the UK, which is a stressful anyway, I have a seriously ill son and another who also needs support due to health problems. David has had cancer, several operations and heart problems also during my withdrawal journey so the passage has been extremely stressful at times.
In spite of all this I consider myself well and coping with life again as it continues to unravel with just these down times occasionally that can be triggered for no obvious reason. I am sure even these are slowly disappearing now.
This may be useful information to explain the idiosyncrasies of recovering from these drugs. I'm not sure who the original,author was...
‘The reason I believe that there is so much speculation is because the overwhelming majority of information we have on benzo withdrawal is peer driven. We are literally making things up as we go, in order to make some kind of sense out of this condition, which for the most part, is filled with inconsistencies and paradoxical outcomes. I'm going to list a few of them.
The first and most important one is that the severity or duration of withdrawal is not proportionate to either the size of the dose one took or the length of time one was taking it. There are people who were on huge doses for long periods of time who had relatively mild withdrawals in terms of both severity and duration. Conversely there have been people on relatively small doses for short periods of time, as short as two weeks, who have suffered immensely and for exaggerated periods of time. This is the most frustratingly confusing part of withdrawal because it means there is a huge part of it that we don't understand. A broken bone heals pretty much in the same way, in the same amount of time for everyone, unless you have some genetic disorder. Most illnesses affect us in proportion to the strength of our immune systems. Benzo withdrawal has no clear measurable expectation of severity or duration. It is therefore something we can only speculate on because the mind is forced to speculate when there is an absence of information. That's pretty much one of it's core functions. We will fill that void with whatever makes sense to us and makes us comfortable.
The second inconsistency is the non-linear aspect of recovery, where one's symptoms at 40 months out can be more severe than those at 4 months out. Again, there is no parallel, at least that I can think of, in the medical world for this type of recovery. In the absence of this parallel, people will again attempt to fill the void of information with whatever makes sense to them. It is much easier to do that with subjective experience than objective, because there are so few consistencies in the limited amount of anecdotal evidence across the benzo world. We are much more prone to believe in what we have experienced than what others claim to experience. For example, when somebody comes on and claims that a particular supplement or vitamin gave them a window, the initial reaction of many people is to try it as well, despite the widely held belief that nothing helps. When somebody tries it and sees no effect on their condition or is actually sent into a bad wave, they will immediately dismiss it. But that doesn't mean that for that particular person, on that particular day, that bit of supplement or vitamin didn't actually minutely have an effect on them. We don't know because we have no way of measuring it, because we have no real understanding of the mechanism.
When it comes to the idea of doing too much, of over-exertion, it is simply something we have adopted from other illnesses. When you over-exert yourself when you have the flu, you will likely increase the severity of the symptoms and possibly extend the recovery period. This is pretty much the standard accepted belief for all illnesses. The reason being is that you are diverting cell energy required for healing to other areas and functions of the body. As a matter of fact, the body is designed to shut down certain functions in order to not divert that energy. This is why we feel weak when we try to get out of bed when we have the flu. The body is attempting to limit the divergence of cell energy away from the immune system. At other times, the body will cause you to pass out. When there is trauma to the brain, the body will go into a coma to protect it.
When it comes to recovery from benzo withdrawal, which we believe is the reemergence of down-regulated GABA receptors, something that requires cell energy in order to occur, the idea of not diverting energy away from that function makes sense to me. Whether that is factual or not, or whether it actually has an effect is irrelevant because we don't have the information we need to make that determination. If it makes sense to you that there is no effect and that the process of upregulation is occurring in a disconnected manner from the level of activity we are participating in, then it is impossible for me to argue with you because I have nothing to support that my opinion is somehow more valid than yours. Until we have some scientific discoveries, both are valid hypotheses until proven otherwise.
Why the idea of being able to affect one's withdrawal by doing too much makes sense to me is because there are already widely held beliefs that we can affect it in other ways. Fox example, it is widely believed that alcohol is to be avoided because we believe that the same GABA A receptors are effected by both. If this is actually true, and we don't know for sure because there is conflicting anecdotal evidence, then the notion of other things having a negative effect on withdrawal makes sense to me. If we are cautioning people against cold turkeying or jumping from too high a dose, then we are operating under the idea that we have some kind of control over our outcomes, even though there are stories out there of people going through a cold turkey and only suffering a short period of time, while at the same time people who have jumped from the smallest possible way of cutting a pill go on to suffer for an extended period of time.
All I know is that at this point in time, there are no absolutes and all we can do is put forth our anecdotal experiences and share them with others, in the hopes that somehow we can make sense of what we are going through, until finally we aren't going through it anymore. ‘ (unknown author)
Useful to remember when talking and receiving advice from others in Benzo groups because there just aren't any 'givens' and you should always be your own advocate knowing that nobody's recovery will be the same as yours.