January to December 2020
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
❣️Motivate and Educate Yourself
Read the information pages here, listen and learn from those that have recovered. Write down the reasons you want to be free of benzos.
❣️Keep Things in Perspective
Don’t catastrophise, you are not dying you are readjusting for a better life. The more you imprint catastrophic scenarios on your brain the more you will suffer. Avoid others that do this and imprint their fear on you.
❣️Stop Seeking Answers
There are no sure answers to benzo withdrawal as the process appears to be different for everyone. Searching for other reasons for symptoms and how to control them again adds unnecessary fear and may prolong recovery. Surrender and accept and seek medical reassurance as necessary. Confusion can be created by receiving numerous different replies to the same question on benzo groups. Go only with a source you trust.
Rome wasn’t built in a day and recovery from benzos takes time as the rebuilding involves every part of your physical and mental being. Help this along with a healthy diet, light exercise, techniques to lessen anxiety and belief in your healing. Don’t watch time passing learn to live in the moment you have. The past has gone, the future is undecided so you only have ‘now’.
❣️Incorporate Small Changes
Old habits die hard but can be changed. You may be used to popping a pill every time you had a feeling of anxiety now learn to accept that feeling, breathe through it and understand it can’t hurt you. The more you do this the less of a monster it becomes. The same with insomnia as sleep is a natural function that will return if you don’t try and use a pill to shut down your brain. Natural sleep is refreshing and rejuvenating so learn sleep hygiene techniques and make them a habit.
❣️Prepare for Setbacks
They can happen at any time even several years off the drug. Life happens and a sometime everybody has to face an upsetting event which may trigger those unwanted feelings and even physical symptoms. This can be the death of somebody close to you, a new illness for which you have to take a drug, or the need to move away from your home and so on. Any reaction to such events will pass again so don’t let anything force you into seeking relief from a benzo and going through the whole withdrawal process again. Know how you will deal with such events when it happens for you. There are many skills you can learn to help you cope so find what suits you best.
❣️Elicit the Help of a Partner or Friend
Having a friend or partner beside you who is willing to learn why you are suffering is of enormous benefit. They can see things from a rational perspective and be there for you in times of any distress. If you have no partner or friend willing to do this find somebody on line who understands and can give wise advice. Again I urge you to keep to just one or two and not create confusion with numerous willing helpers with differing points of view.
❣️Let Go of
Wanting it All Right Now
It’s going to take time as I’ve said before. Every little change you can make towards a healthier future will help build a magnificent new person. Each day that passes is going to bring you closer to that new you. Don’t fret about time passing, use it wisely for learning and strengthening your mind and body. Recovery will unfold in the time that is right for you.
What This All Means for You
So use your days wisely and don’t spend long periods of time on the internet scaring yourself further. Let your internet time be a time of learning and of helping towards building that new person into a stronger, wiser and more knowledgeable human being. Passing through the horrors of benzo withdrawal can actually be one of the best things that happen for you in your life! Stay on track until you reach that amazing, final destination with desire, emotion and knowledge. ❤️
Throughout my recovery I was, like so many others, having to deal with a multitude of physical and mental symptoms caused by the changes happening within me. Also, like others I was scared, very scared, as I never believed such torture imaginable from just a tiny little pill taken for sleep. My body was, and still is at times, swamped by a tide of fear and pain.
It was a process of change that somehow I needed to learn to endure. For almost a lifetime I had been subdued by this drug and now I was coming back to life both inside and out. Somehow I had to survive if I was to see my grandchildren grow up and enjoy any life that was left to me.
At first my reactions to symptoms were those of fear as I spent my days trying to find answers and seeking a doctor who could understand and support me in this. A bit futile but my last doctor was at least willing to learn. I did my best to educate myself purely to try and find a way to reduce the living nightmare and survive the process.
Slowly I became aware that my reactions to this process were likely to be worsening its effects on my body and brain. Trying to unravel the endless procession of symptoms and apply some sort of logic to them was merely making their effects the centre of my attention day after day and causing even further trauma for my tired brain. Crying out on benzo buddies had a futility of its own and just served to intensify the chaos as confusing answers sent me reeling.
My responses to the symptoms caused an expectation of their arrival. Even during periods of calm I waited for them to return ready to do battle whenever they made an appearance. I waited for the chaos, pain and anxiety that no human being should have to endure. I waited to be catapulted into the abyss again with all guns blazing!
Gradually I began to realise that I was fighting a losing battle. If I was to recover I had to surrender, wave the white flag, take myself away from the chaos and trust my reawakening. I gave up the searching, chatted to a few friends for support and stopped defining myself by my symptoms.
Somewhere between the symptoms and my reactions there was a place of calm where I could watch them from afar and let them do what they needed to do. This led to greater acceptance and lessened the addition of more trauma to the brain as I recovered.
I still have the return of insomnia and anxiety but now they are just a nuisance and I know they continue to show that I am recovering. It’s important to understand that this process is one of strength and endurance not fighting and reacting but remaining calm even in the midst of the battle.
Please learn by the efforts others have made to help you. Avoid anything that further down regulates those receptors. Stay clear of other people’s pain and take your focus away from symptoms and into a place of calm and acceptance.
Instead of searching for answers now try and find that place of calm within yourself where you can rest, be at peace with what’s happening and watch your recovery unfold as I have done
I have not written for awhile but still lots to say! I have had a setback, mostly severe insomnia but hopefully back in action for the moment. I remain fragile but there was no obvious trigger probably just more healing for the brain to do. Forty years of Benzos sadly equates to a very long recovery time but it does continue to get better. Every part of me inside and out is being readjusted and I have never lost the belief in my own healing.
Please don’t limit belief in your healing either. This is another brick wall to break down in order to help yourself have a smooth, perhaps even a less symptom filled recovery.
Limited beliefs may be deep in the subconscious mind and can be conditioned by ourselves and the world we inhabit. They have their foundations in childhood and are built up throughout our lives. If these beliefs are negative then they can continue to influence our lives for the worst.
A few emotionally limiting beliefs that may arise while you recover from
I can’t heal, I’m worse than anybody else, I’m a failure, My story is too complex, I have been kindled, there is something else wrong with me, I am all alone with no support, I’m too old, I can’t do this, I will have to reinstate/updose, I need to stay on the drugs.....
Some of the physically limiting beliefs may be...
checking the body all the time for symptoms, focussing on what you don’t want to happen, asking ‘why’ all the time, comparing symptoms with others, seeking another pill to control symptoms, being mad about what’s happened to you, blaming others for the state you’re in, having a negative prediction for your future, writing about your fears.....
I know this sounds harsh but it is important to seek ways to help change your mindset rather than ways to stop the symptoms. Creating peace and calm within yourself will be of far greater benefit in the long run than trying to control symptoms or let them take you over. Put a positive slant on the symptoms and know that they are bringing you to full recovery,
You can do this. You are all some of the bravest and strongest people we will ever know. Find ways to support your healing through the many practices that help your mindset to become more positive. I will write more of these another day as I don’t want this to be too long.
My Love and Support to some very brave people. You too can fly. 💪💙