Learning to Live Again
It’s 18 months today since I quit Nitrazepam and entered withdrawal hell. It’s been a journey of nightmarish proportions, of stops and starts, of hope and despair but most of all it's been one of intense learning. I’m still far from myself but I have come a long way. I may still have a way to go before I reach the finishing line but at present it’s a tolerable road.
I thought I would be recovered at six months, then at twelve and now at eighteen but still I’m plagued by unwanted physical symptoms and some anxiety. It’s better not to count the months or years and not to set targets for recovery but to appreciate that every day healing is happening however small. I see friends I speak to doing better than I am and I’m happy for them because I know my healing is unfolding at its own pace. It can’t be compared to that of others.
So what have I learnt over the last eighteen months? For a start I’ve learnt that no-one can appreciate the suffering unless they’ve been through this themselves. This means that support is very limited and most of the time I’ve been totally dependent on inner strength to get me through. I sometimes wonder where this strength comes from but somehow it comes. Friends have slowly forgotten me but this I’ve learnt to accept and appreciate that in future, if someone needs me, I will be there for them, however long it takes. I also understand how difficult it is for those without the withdrawal experience to ever believe how so much suffering is possible. It has shown me how strong I can be when the need arises and not to rely on other people. I mustn’t try and force them to understand it only alienates them further.
I’m no longer afraid of death. I believed myself very close to it when at the acute stage. My heart threatened to explode in my chest, my legs no longer supported my weight, my blood pressure rocketed, and pain flowed throughout my body so death seemed the easy way out. I prayed for release. Luckily God didn’t hear my prayers instead he gave me the power to hold on and somehow accept the suffering. At this stage I find it hard to remember the details of the hell I was in at this time. Luckily, with anything that is too intense and frightening our memories seem to cloud over the suffering and leave just a shadow of the stress that was endured. I’m thankful for this.
I’ve learnt a lot about myself and am still learning. I know I must accept myself as I am and not try and change to please others. I am what I am and hope one day to be a ‘whole’ person again. I still feel that parts of me are scattered about and need collecting together to be reassembled as the ‘me’ that has disappeared with the withdrawal process. This disintegration of my personality is something that still prevents me from taking up my former life and starting to live again. It may be that I never resume the life that I had but follow a new path. I was a different person then.
So the learning goes on and later I will list all the processes, meditations, books and foods that have helped me and kept me going. I remain positive that my recovery is well underway at the eighteen month mark.