January 2020 on
Before my thoughts for today just to update that things have improved and I am now in better times again. 👍
The Reductionist v The Holistic Approach
The medical model of healing starts from a place of treating symptoms and is sometimes known as the reductionist approach. In other words doctors will mostly try to reduce symptoms in one part of the body by treating with drugs and don’t always look at the whole picture.
For the symptoms of benzo withdrawal this means that if anybody is stressed by a certain symptom in one system that person may visit their doctor and come away clutching a further prescription. Of course these prescriptions are often necessary for ‘real’ illnesses but when the symptoms are those created by a disturbed body trying to right itself due to damage caused by a drug they may only add further to the problem.
The reductionist understanding reduces the body to its various parts. It reduces the biological body to a collection of systems. This is why we have specialist doctors who concentrate on just one of these systems e.g. the gastroenterologist or the orthopaedist or even the psychiatrist.
The problem that arises in benzo withdrawal is that it’s not just one system but the whole body that’s been altered in some way and therefore needs a more holistic approach. Trailing from one specialist to another won’t solve the problem and may even lead to a new, unnecessary diagnosis.
We are more than the sum of our parts and it’s the health and functionality of all parts working in cooperation that brings wellness.
‘To better understand the specific differences between reductionist and holistic approaches....
reductionists are so focused on the minutiae of each individual biological system, that they fail to account for the health and functionality of the whole.’ Vivian Goldschmidt.
This was written about achieving bone health without drugs but can apply to the health of any system. Drug companies employ extreme reductionism and concentrate on drugs that alter one system with little regard to how their drugs can impact on other systems (hence side effects). We all appreciate where the reductionist understanding has brought us today so now a more holistic approach is needed to bring us to full recovery.
I think this old fable describes it well....
“There’s a famous fable about a group of blind men encountering an elephant for the very first time. The first blind man, who had his hand on the elephant’s side, said that it was like an enormous wall. The second blind man, wrapping his arms around the elephant’s leg, exclaimed that surely it was a gigantic tree trunk. The third, feeling the elephant’s tail, declared that it must be a thick rope...... Vehement disagreement ensues, but after a while the blind men eventually come to realize that, while each person was partially correct, there is much more to the elephant than initially thought.”
I hope that makes sense for you but the main point is to not treat just one symptom you may experience on a certain day but look at how you can help the whole body repair itself from benzos so that each system can recover and bring full health. In this respect we know that a healthy diet, learning relaxation techniques, light exercise, good support and all the various coping tips can benefit healing plus anything else that you feel may benefit you.
Look beyond the present with all its inexplicable, individual symptoms, try not
to focus on each and every one and remember these symptoms are bringing you towards a whole healing picture, a strong body and a beautiful future. ❤️
This is just a brief update to let you know I'm still here!
I continue to have a sensitive nervous system which causes insomnia but no other symptoms now. The worst trigger for me seems to be any additional stress and I have plenty of that. I would like to add that my setback after feeling mostly recovered is likely to be from this outside stress and not anything to do with benzos apart from the continuing sensitivity of my CNS. It's happened to others and is a phenomenon well recognised.
Please don't let this reflect on your own recovery which is very unlikely to be like mine and to be over much fasterl Never give up hope but somehow keep going and don't look backwards.
Try not to give give in to the fear that obviously
surfaces when symptoms return after a long respite as this is still a healing time. ❤️
Almost a month since I last wrote here. I've been lying low as symptoms have done an upsurge over this time.
Moving from GI issues to fully body pain has been the latest experience Plus a bad histamine reaction to a bite on my ankle (no idea what nasty little insect decided I was so tasty). The pain was worse in my neck, right shoulder, hips and knees. Anxiety hit the roof and of course sleep disappeared yet again!
Today I seem more or less normal and the pain has subsided and the GI issues have eased. I've no idea what has triggered all this but don't feel I'm through the woods yet so taking it easy and keeping calm. My new mantra...'I relax and let healing flow through me easily'.
I'm including my latest positive post here for encouragemen.
'Perfect As You Are
As you move through the readjustment from shedding benzos you may have to endure many painful mental and physical experiences which cause a loss of self and a focus on the body and suffering.
Illness, confusion, discomfort are not who you are. Focussing on the relentless symptoms, which can morph and change from one day to the next, won’t help you to heal any faster. Trying to figure out how to ‘treat’ them will, more often than not, only make them worse. Any further attempts to quieten them with medicines, creams, diet and so forth leads to questioning everything you put on or into your body so whipping up anxiety and constricting your world.
Learning to just ‘be’ with those sensations, that pain in your outer physical body and watching it all from within in the present moment with curiosity and not judgement, allows everything to pass unimpeded by a fearful mind. There’s nothing you need to do to ‘fix’ yourself because you are whole and perfect as you are.
Relax into your recovery and try not to fight it. You can make it easier for yourself. Continue to learn and understand what is happening in the brain and the body then watch it all unfold in your
time of healing. You are all so brave and acceptance of what is will become part of the new you as slowly you begin to find yourself in the midst of chaos.
Love as always 🌹'
I’m going to say it as it is at present for me with no sugar coating. Please don’t read this if you are sensitive or in early withdrawal.
In November it will be eight years since I stopped the benzo I was prescribed for sleep for forty years. Over some time now things have deteriorated. From feeling fully well and recovered, except for periods when a wave would briefly appear, I am now in a continuous and relentless downturn. All symptoms previously experienced have ramped up plus a few new ones. I have no idea why at this particular time as my life stresses remain the same as they’ve always been. I am mostly bedridden as dizziness, headaches and nausea are the new symptoms to appear.
My nights are one long relentless series of nightmares, sweats and tachycardia. I am seriously sleep deprived and very, very tired. I ask myself if this is some sort of ptsd but there’s no way to tell. Seeking medical advice would only lead to further trauma with the lack of knowledge about Benzos and the withdrawal syndrome. The sad fact is that this refusal to believe what is happening by hoodwinked doctors compiles the suffering. ‘Thou shalt do no harm’, huh!! I say hoodwinked because they have been coerced by the big profit making pharmaceutical companies to prescribe these drugs without giving full advice as to their possible dangers to the patient. They then precede to do this with no observation of their own Guidelines in the form of NICE (The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence provides national guidance and advice to improve health and social care in the UK). So misprescribing goes on here in the UK and all over the world as many continue to fall victim of their previously trusted doctors. The medical profession can do marvellous things but it also holds the power to seriously damage patients.
The benzo count worldwide falls into millions and is impossible to track. Facebook alone has nearly 100 groups put up for Benzo Support. My own group has 6,000 members now. Multiply that a few times and the numbers become horrendous and that’s without those who have no access to Facebook or any knowledge about benzodiazepine drugs and the suffering that they can cause. It is beyond belief that this continues to happen sixty years after the first drugs were issued. Throughout that time attempts have been made by sufferers to get the life altering effects of these prescribed drugs acknowledged. We owe a huge dept to Professor Heather Ashton for doing the only benzo research in the eighties and nineties that gave rise to the creation of the Ashton Manual listing their dangers and giving support to the numerous victims. Sadly there still exist doctors who have no knowledge of any of this and so compound the suffering year after year.
‼️‼️BENZOS SHOULD BE PRSCRIBED FOR TWO TO FOUR WEEKS ONLY‼️‼️
I was prescribed them for 40 years for sleep! No wonder I continue to suffer years later.
I’m having a rant because I feel so ill now and exhausted. Don’t worry, I will never give up but just surviving and letting out some of the trauma and horror over what I have learnt through my years of suffering and many bedridden days. Please don’t let this worry you because, from what I have seen over these years through my support of others and through talking to the benzo wise volunteers in the UK, people can gradually get better as the brain readjusts. I’m just taking longer than most. I will survive.
Some wise words from an unexpected place (romantic novel).
‘....How you approach a long car journey is a lot like how you approach life, if even before you set out, you view it as a trial, likely to be full of unexpected obstacles, either frightening and full of dangerous possibilities, or slower and more wearying than you might have wanted, then that is probably how you will experience it.
Or you could learn to see each journey as an opportunity - to spot something
new and unexpected, to think - each full of possibilities and diversions that could lead somewhere totally unexpected. You could find simple joy in the act of moving forward.’
This is the last paragraph in a novel I have just finished. Very true words that can well be applied to our benzo journeys. Imagining the worst scenario before even starting a taper could cause more difficulties while distraction through learning new skills is one way to move forwards. if you're creative maybe take up painting or drawing or other skills with your hands that can help distract you. I enjoyed colouring for awhile as it didn't require a lot of concentration and doing cryptic crosswords. It's amazing what you may find yourself good at, hidden talents!
Also, just learning how to better deal with life problems that we all face at some time or another, without a benzo is a new skill. Coming through and reaching the end of your journey will make you wiser and more appreciative of