My Blog continues from December 2015 to the present.
Christmas Advice - Dec 2015
Christmas is Coming
A New Year with New Hope
The Kraken Awakes
Sunshine and Springtime
This is 'It' at Last
Stages of Recovery
From Inside Out
World Benzo Day - July 2016
Diet and Final Healing
Thoughts on Alternative Therapies
Do I Have Regrets?
A Success Story
Buddy Awareness - Novenber 2016
26th November 2016 - Buddy Awareness
There are many lessons to learn as we battle through the hazardous minefield of withdrawal. Sadly we become aware that too often friends and family can turn away from us and fail to understand the suffering we're facing. We therefore look to our internet friends to provide the inspiration that we need to recover.
We badly need reassurance that all the vagaries of this process are just the body and brain attempting to get back on track. No two healing journeys are the same but the intense anxiety and fear are the same for everybody. I've made some very close internet friendships through sharing my deepest anxieties and many have now recovered and provided me with the inspiration to keep going, even when I take a step backwards and despair. Sadly, there's always the other side of the coin when perhaps an internet friendship turns against us for a variety of reasons mostly due to misunderstandings or something else in the background we don't know about. Baylissa always told me to look after number one first and turn away from drama and upset as it can pull us down. I'm passing her thoughts on to you today as the Christmas season fast approaches and adds further stress to already stressed benzo sufferers. We are all in this together.
I've written before how the frustration and anger of withdrawal, especially protracted withdrawal, can result in causing hurt to us by those who we attempt to help. Mostly this is superficial and erupts in abusive emails or messages written in capitals with swear words. I try to look on this as the result of the horrible situation they find themselves in so they lash out at anyone who will listen. 'Know your buddies' is my message for today. Understand what they are going through, understand all that may be happening in their own lives to influence their actions and be tolerant but don't let it hinder your own withdrawal. Take a step back if necessary. Choose your buddies wisely, hold them close and support each other with loving care and honesty this Christmas time.
2nd November 2016 - Autumn Sunshine
I continue to make a successful recovery and all is well. We are enjoying days out in the amazing Autumn weather this year. It's especially beautiful in the far southwest of the UK where I live.
This is just a quick update as I'm using my time for writing my Blog to add to a new page here that I call 'Coping Tips'. It's still under construction but I hope something I've found has helped me in my benzo withdrawal may be beneficial in also helping others get through the darkest days. Basically it's more of a précis or shortened version of everything I've tried to analyse and find answers for over the whole of my time in recovery.
22nd October 2016 - A Success Story
This is the success story I wrote on Benzo Buddies a few days ago. Some will be a repeat of my blogs here for those that follow these. For the moment all seems good but I'm ever aware things could change again. I haven't had a bad wave now for about five weeks so I feel it's time for me to be positive and believe my healing has happened even if I'm still a little tentative in what I want to declare as yet. My nights are not perfect, however there's is a big change. Today I'm 47 months off benzos.
To recap.....I was on benzos for over 40 years from my mid twenties to my mid sixties. I also had many different benzos and different antidepressants thrown into the mix over these years. Not one doctor ever diagnosed my escalating anxiety symptoms
as being due to the drugs. I blithely continued to take them trusting the medical profession and believing I was suffering menopausal symptoms; I was first prescribed sleeping tablets following a life saving hysterectomy after childbirth and subsequent very
The whole of most of my adult life I've been in the grip of these drugs. It's a horror story beyond comprehension and one which has made me try my best to help others being subjected to the devastation benzos can cause. I had huge manifestations of anxiety to the extent I thought I was going mad and was even diagnosed as having an hysterical personality disorder. This in a woman who had never suffered anxiety or depression in her life before. The outcome was I eventually accepted that I would never be fully well again due to the early menopause (I thought) and returned to my teaching career to help me divert from my symptoms. My sons were virtually brought up by my husband as I never had the energy to do a lot around the home. We decided, for my own sanity, I needed to teach and get back to as normal a life as possible.
I continued like this even running my own successful private school with my husband for ten years but the weird symptoms, the anxiety, tiredness, hot sweats, insomnia and so forth never left me. At the age of 59 we sold the school and settled into retirement and looked forward to travelling the world in our camper van. For a few years I was ok but then my wonderful mum died and started the beginning of a whole new series of symptoms which I later understood to be tolerance to the many, many years of sleeping tablets and later Valium which had been thrown into the mix due to muscle pains. I should add I was also buying Valium off the Internet to boost my own supply and find relief from the anxiety. It took intense symptoms of pain, anxiety, insomnia and several stressful events to finally cause me to research the net and come up with the truth of my situation. I was shocked and cold turkeyed the drugs there and then! Never ever do this but I was too ill to care at the time.
Here I am today nearly 47 months off and finally feeling more or less normal. I have no pain symptoms, no twitching, no stomach upset, no headaches, no sweats, no insomnia and am calmer and more grateful for every minute of my life than I've ever been. I've been through a horrific withdrawal, prayed for death many times but I've still somehow survived and reached the other side. Yes, I am still fragile and do get tired but I am feeling very well in myself and I am 71 years old so having to accept the limits of age.
I'm not going to talk about symptoms or the hell I've been through in this as I firmly believe dwelling on symptoms, reading and talking about them makes the brain hang on to them longer than necessary. It knows nothing else and in some ways they can become like a security blanket and something that is too scary to let go of. Once we can accept all the horror that happens and believe in ourselves and our own recovery without comparing to others this gives out brains permission to heal. We can throw off that blanket.
I've had a very obvious windows and waves healing journey and have always done my best to go outside the home and not just stay within my four walls. When very ill my husband has almost carried me to the car just to get me a different view and divert from the horror that my home started to hold for me, (I would spent night after night pacing the floors and went a full week with no sleep at all on several occasions). We would sit and look at the sea and listen to music or take a gentle walk if I was able. My husband has been my rock and he's always been beside me and helped my healing tenfold. He now helps others with withdrawal and tapering and gives talks to various organisations about the horrors of benzos. He's also contacted every doctors' practice in Cornwall, UK and put up posters in surgery waiting rooms. He's always believed I would fully recover and read widely around the subject. He's now as excited as I am to see the obvious end to all this for me. Plus, during my withdrawal hell he had prostate cancer and suffered an operation as well as heart problems.
To finish some practices that have helped me through the bad times.....
*Brain retraining through Gupta therapy and Irene Lyon both of whom place an emphasis on keeping positive and have practices for overcoming anxiety and anxious thoughts.
*A healthy diet with, for me at present, no processed, no gluten, no dairy apart from goats' milk yogurt and lots of fruit and veg. I don't believe restricting diet too much helps to that extent and can build up sensitivities but just being sensible and finding what suits you best.
*Never comparing myself to others and their symptoms just using other sufferers for reassurance occasionally. I believe it's essential to not spend hours talking and thinking about withdrawal symptoms as this gives the brain negative messages.
*To get out when able and change the scene so as not to have the same pattern day after day which can become the norm and get more difficult to break as time goes on.
*To use everything you enjoy to divert from symptoms and for me this was music and some television programmes plus reading when my eyes could focus.
*To learn mindfulness and the power of meditation.
I feel I could go on and on but when it comes down to it just a firm belief in your recovery, not being fooled by the symptoms and by having a positive outlook at all times have to be top of this list. I'll write more and keep this blog updated but for now I'm enjoying the October sunshine and living for the moment.
9th October 2016 - Do I have Regrets?
'It is good to have an end to journey to; but it's the journey that matters, in the end' (Ernest Hemingway'.
My journey has certainly been long and loaded with trauma but looking back on it all now; Do I regret it? It's easy to be filled with anger at what has been done to us and all too easy to jump on the bandwagon of trying to right the injustice but there has to be a more positive outcome for us personally. I've always been sure of my healing however bad it got and however many times I stood on the brim of that pit of raging fire and brimstone. I've felt I could easily have jumped into the inferno so many times but I'm still here and still amazingly clear headed and positive. Things are falling into perspective as I calm and look back on the experience of nearly four years.
Out of this trauma I'm emerging as the stronger person so many have said we become. Of course, in the midst of the hell, it's hard to believe anything at all as it all goes over us in the despair of thinking we're too damaged by the drugs and too ill to possibly survive, let alone be stronger for it. But it's true. I feel stronger, wiser, deeper thinking and more appreciative of life than ever before. My memory has returned and I've been flooded by little incidents from my past that have been long forgotten. Suddenly I'm remembering names quickly and my emotions are real and appropriate to the situation if still a little over the top at times. Real life is flooding back bringing happiness all wrapped up in a calm and peaceful body.
On the physical side my weight has returned to normal and I am well equipped with a new knowledge of diet that ensures I get all the nutrients my body needs for health without the poisons of drugs or processed foods. I sleep for eight hours at night although still with a couple of wake ups which could be age related. I don't have any aches or pains, my skin is less dry and my hair is improving. All blood tests on the major organs and systems in my body are normal. I do now catch infections but I think this is something to do with the immune system coming back into action after the stress of benzos. I am still improving and have no doubt I will continue to see progress in all areas. I don't think healing stops just because we reach a point when we are functional again but goes on ad infinitum.
I've learnt so much that my head is full of new concepts and new ideas on how to help myself and my health and lead a drug free life. Some of the more important facts that have got me to this point are......
The neuroplastic nature of our brains which can be moulded to our thinking so the importance of positivity and positive talk to ourselves is paramount.
The ability to overcome anxiety and panic through going deep into our bodies and seeing them for what they are so the fight, flight, freeze reaction is brought under control.
The need to not match ourselves to others on their own journey but to remain true to ourselves and our own healing because we're all different.
The need to accept and understand that some friends in real life, even relatives, will have stopped supporting us and gone their own ways. I've written a lot about this but at least we learn who our real friends are and we can let the others go knowing their true worth. It's one of the hardest lessons to come out of this.
The value of finding the right, nutritious diet to support our brain and body health.
The importance of remaining as drug free as possible unless absolutely necessary. Also to be wary of supplements and introduce anything new slowly.
This list could go on and on but the sun is shining on a beautiful Autumn day so I must go and enjoy it. There will be much more to say on all this as my full recovery continues but to everyone out there still suffering the most important lesson I have learnt is to surrender, accept the process and keep positive. Our bodies are amazing and they will heal.
18th September 2016 - Bewildering Times
I haven't written for awhile but feel it's time to update and answer some of the questions that I've been asked.
The last month has been hard, very hard. From feeling more or less healed, taking on the diet change and getting together some sort of life again I've crashed. I've pondered on just how much I should give vent about this on my Blog but decided people want the truth not a load of platitudes and attempts to hide the raw, exasperating facts that form a long, protracted withdrawal. By now you'll know that we're all different anyway and my withdrawal is not yours. So here it is....
For about six weeks I've been attempting to keep up with a perfect Paleo diet with no cow's milk, no grains and no sugar. I kept rigidly to this for a month and got quite ill. I was constantly hungry, with a rumbling gut to parallel Vesuvius, nausea and sleeplessness. After the thirty days I threw in the towel and introduced some sourdough toast occasionally plus goats' milk yogurt. I also took out the coconut oil which I felt was doing more harm than good. So far my stomach has been a little more settled but my intense anxiety, the cornerstone of my waves, has reached an all time high. Total insomnia has returned and I'm crawling through the bad days confined to my home. I do get brief respite if I manage to sleep a few hours but then it all descends like a big black storm cloud enveloping my brain and whipping my heart rate into a frenzy. What's with this? Who knows? It's led me to seek more answers looking particularly at calming the overreaction of the CNS which is obviously occurring. I've taken on a few new techniques which I'll write about another time but in truth only acceptance, breathing and just pushing through is all I really can manage when like this.
It's made me confirm all my previous understanding because as soon as I make any sort of deviation from the straight and narrow I'm back in the wilderness. My CNS can't be subjected to change in anyway. Anything can upset the delicate balance.
So what have
I learnt from all this? ....
* If you're suffering a bad withdrawal don't make a big change in diet, just eat healthily and avoid sugar, alcohol and caffeine;
* don't take any supplements however innocuous they may appear, magnesium and D3 are hugely problematic for me as are most herbs;
* don't overdo the exercise but do exercise daily with a gentle walk out doors;
* don't believe others have the answers for you because they don't and all these miracle therapies, often at huge cost, are just ways of rewiring the nervous system which we have the tools to do ourselves and again, more about this another time and for free😊;
*don't read all the negative stories on the Internet, in fact have a day of rest and keep right out of the cyber world as this can do wonders for your brain and
*finally do keep positive and divert with something you enjoy doing (a platitude but it does help).
As soon as I stopped taking my own advice I fell victim to an angry nervous system again. I don't think we can stop these waves occurring so far out but I do think we can do our best to make sure we follow a lifestyle that doesn't encourage them. The fact is I'm still very, very fragile and not healed yet. On the brighter side all former physical symptoms have gone and my waves consist only of high anxiety which causes insomnia and foggy head. Hopefully the next entry will see this downturn in the past.
20th August 2016 - Thoughts on Alternative Therapies
As we go through the turmoil of tolerance to benzos or withdrawal from them, if anything like me, you will be continually searching for answers to make it all the more bearable. There's so little that's proven to help us and more often than not any supplements, herbs, drugs etc will make matters far worse. I thought I was strong enough to now start to try a few alternative treatments but realise I'm far too sensitive still and must not upset the status quo or I react. It seems even the mildest of herbs act like drugs for me and cause a problem so I'm leaving them for the moment. I'm still persevering with my diet plan and actually losing a little weight!
I think it's really hard for anybody who hasn't endured benzodiazepine drugs and their horrendous recovery syndrome to possibly appreciate just how bad this is and how much stress it causes for our bodies often for many years afterwards. The anxiety bears no resemblance to the normal anxiety anybody suffers even in anxiety diagnosed illnesses such as GAD. All we can do is hold on and survive. Sadly some die from seizures, strokes, heart attacks or escape the horror through suicide. We can't hide these facts. I don't want to scare people but it's a warning to keep your nervous system as calm as possible without the added stress of further drugs or even so called natural substances. Of course the gentler therapies such as meditation and yoga can often be well tolerated and may help to keep the body and brain at peace to heal.
For me I believe as the CNS calmed so the histamine was released into my blood stream and caused the problems I've suffered for these last few months, hives and itching. The drugs do act as antihistamines and so down regulate histamine receptors as well as GABA. I know diet can assist the process of recovery but sadly it can't heal. Following a good diet, as I've outlined before, is beneficial generally throughout life but sadly here, in withdrawal, any drastic changes while we're so fragile and sensitive may increase the turmoil. Only time can heal the brain and this needs to be supported with a healthy lifestyle when we're able to function a little but without overloading our compromised bodies with extra stress. I'd love to find a diet that's full proof for everyone or a supplement to smooth the journey but of course I can't just as I can't find a therapy that brings relief to all. It's very individual and following what suits us is the way forwards.
8th August 2016 - Diet and Final Healing
I'm very much better now apart from the itching and hives. In order to 'mop up' the remaining symptoms and feel 100% I'm looking closely at my diet and receiving support from a nutritionist. I'm only four days into the Paleo 30-day Reset Diet. This promises great benefits and so far the skin problems are starting to become less intense.
Basically I'm eating just good quality animal protein and different coloured vegetables and a little fruit. For breakfast I've been having a fruit smoothie made with coconut milk, for lunch a salad with protein and for dinner fish, chicken or meat with vegetables cooked in good fat e.g. coconut oil. If this is successful it will be refined and possibly some herbs added. I will report back and give more details on my diet page after a few weeks.
It certainly makes me feel more satisfied and I no longer have any bloating or digestive issues. I have high hopes but I'm wary this may be a placebo effect at the moment. I will be 45 months off in two weeks and this fourth year has seen a dramatic change for the better in my healing although I've still been knocked out by the occasional severe wave. This feeling of almost final recovery is amazing and makes me feel quite euphoric
There is now a new Facebook group for those of you at least two years off all drugs so please contact me for further details if you fulfil this criteria. The group is small and kept secret so you can share any concerns you may have at this protracted stage in complete confidence.
12 July 2016 - World Benzo Day
A huge thank you today for the success of World Benzo Awareness Day and all it achieved towards getting recognition for these drugs.
Everyone should be very proud of all they have done to make yesterday such a resounding victory. Some people even did this from their beds. Too sick and agitated to function properly and yet they didn't think about themselves just tried to help on Facebook and all the different sites or on their own Blogs to spread the word.
You are all warriors and deserve some recognition. The many videos and stories are evidence of great suffering but also great hope. Thank you especially to Wayne Douglas and Barry Haslam for setting it all up and may every July 11th be as successful and help bring awareness of the damage these drugs can do to both a blinkered medical profession and their trusting patients. It takes us all working together and just putting aside what's happening in our lives, even if healed, to make our own Benzo experience count for something. Thank You warriors.
I'm doing well and apart from the irritating hives and now a bad cold all Benzo withdrawal symptoms seem to have resolved, at least for the moment! I do believe these immunity related disorders could well be a part of the healing process. My immune system now has to work alone uninhibited by benzos. It's coming back on line just as the GABA receptors have. I've not experienced a cold since sometime in my fifties so this is a bit of a shock to the system. It will pass as has everything else.
25 June 2016 - Sad Times
In my opinion yesterday was a sad day for what was Great Britain but as with benzo withdrawal we now have to move forwards whatever the future holds. Britain has returned to the dark ages and overturned all that our forefathers died for in two world wars, peace and unity in Europe, and gone backwards creating a little, disunited Country. It will take many years to rebuild our strength and it's unlikely I will see recovery in my lifetime. But, that's what the people voted for and there's no way out now. I only hope our leaders have emergency plans in place for what is to follow. All we can do is hold on.
This is so similar to what happens to us in Benzo withdrawal. The euphoria of the good times and the realisation that they don't last as we plummet to the depths of a wave yet again. We have to survive these episodes of horror and accept what's happening however much we hate it all. We must trust in the process, trust in ourselves and one day we'll throw off the shackles of despair that bind us and go into a glorious future. We can do this.
This may have been a sad day for a once Great Britain and United Kingdom but it was a happy one for my family with the addition of a new baby boy. Something to celebrate in the darkness. My recovery continues but not without its blips, these are of little consequence now as time goes on.
13 June 2016 - From Inside Out
I read a post this morning that wrote about how healing happens from the inside out. I do believe this may be the case in respect of my own healing. I certainly feel it dealt with all the internal stuff first, such a stomach issues, muscle pain, joint pain etc and has now turned to the skin as the final part of the journey. I've broken out in hives over the last month which itch and are extremely uncomfortable. In myself, however, I feel so much better with a clearer head and more energy plus better sleep.
If we do heal slowly from the inside out then the brain obviously has to fully heal as well. Certainly I still feel a little overreactive to stress and I still have what I now call 'low' days but things have changed a lot. My journey seems to be juddering along over this final stage. There's such a vast array of symptoms and such a difference in recovery times and recovery patterns for everyone that it's just very hard to make any statements that are for sure for everyone except the fact that we all heal in the end. I think we have to seek the best way to get through for ourselves and understand that nobody can really advise what is exactly right for us. For the moment I'm speaking to a nutritionist whom I hope can help a little over this period and I'll report back when I have some helpful advice in this area.
I should add that I did experience another wave from my last post up to about two weeks ago. It had some extremely bad days and nights and all the negativity crept back into my thinking again but most of all, 'How on earth can it be this bad so far off the drugs after 42 months?' Of course it can and I have no doubt that the worst waves come just before the end for many of us. If you're experiencing a bad wave now which you liken to the acute stage months or years ago please don't despair because this seems to be quite a common pattern.....healing is not linear.
16 May 2016 - Healing Nights
We are now well into May and the sunshine is pouring in through my windows. The approach of summer in itself is very uplifting for us all.
A quick update here as I continue to navigate my recovery. At this stage there's very little to report. I'm still quite fragile and can be overreactive at times but I am so much improved. I get the occasional poor day but I can cope with these. At long last I feel the nights are no longer endless, dark passages of time that have to be survived as I experience nightmares, tachycardia, sweats and so forth. My nights have always been my worst time of day and I believe this is something to do with the fact that I took a dangerous hypnotic Benzo for decades. I've never craved a sleeping tablet throughout all my withdrawal but I have craved peaceful sleep. Now that is here it's wonderful and to be celebrated. Sleep helps healing and makes the days free from the tiredness and stress the hours of tossing and turning used to cause for me. If you're still having bad nights know these will slowly become easier until you experience calm, peaceful sleep again.
My thanks to everyone who has been contributing to the Facebook site, Beating Benzos. There is great support for everyone here in their various stages of healing. It remains a group for positive support and I know friendships have been formed amongst the members. I post a picture quote every day and welcome others to contribute as well so that there's plenty of inspiration to help us along the way. I know there is suffering but if we continue to believe and keep hope and positivity alive we do all heal.
27 April 2016 - Stages of Recovery
Now my full recovery is imminent and the waves have died out I've been analysing my passage through all this and tried to divide it into stages. These stages could apply to everyone and last for different amounts of time which would explain the inability to compare our journey and time frames with someone else's.
Stage 1 ....The actual process of stopping the drugs. In my case this was a sudden stop or cold turkey and certainly should not be attempted but I knew no better. The usual and most accepted withdrawal procedure is to taper slowly, evenly and consistently over time possibly following the Ashton schedule.
Stage 2 ....The period of time when the drug is leaving the body and being removed from muscles and bones where it may have been stored. The longer on the drugs the longer this time may take. For me this was a 'quiet' few weeks when the worst of symptoms hadn't kicked in and I innocently thought I wasn't going to have a bad withdrawal. It can last hours, days, weeks or even months for some.
Stage 3 ....Acute withdrawal when all hell breaks lose! It's intensity can vary but it's now we may be unable to leave our beds and just do our best to survive each day. Suicidal thoughts can arise and help must always be sought if symptoms are overwhelming. Hopefully this will be from a knowledgable medical practitioner but if there's none available there are support lines in the UK and a lot of Internet support on Facebook and the Benzo Buddies site. Mine lasted from week 7 to week 13 but again this will vary for everyone.
Stage 4 ....The window and waves scenario becomes evident. Sadly some may not have 'windows of calm' but this period is when symptoms may wax and wane and change at the drop of a hat. We don't know what will happen from one day to the next. Symptoms will be different for everyone and no two people have exactly the same. It can last weeks, months or years and we just have to hold on and accept and do what we can when we can. For me this time lasted approximately 33 months. The longer this phase then we are said to be in protracted withdrawal which is usually regarded as someone taking longer than 18 months to heal. There may also be strong chemical sensitivities while all this happens.
Stage 5 ....Finally, things turn and we realise everything has become less intense. The waves disappear and a more linear recovery happens and we can do more. We still have to pace ourselves carefully as the adrenal glands may be pretty exhausted at this time and we tire easily or symptoms start appearing again but with rest, positivity and acceptance each day will get better and better. This is the phase I seem to be in at present. I believe it started around three years off for me and I'm now at 41 months. It will lead to.....
Stage 6 ....Final recovery when we feel strong, well and ready to enter into life to the full again. All symptoms will have gone and withdrawal will hopefully become a distant memory. I know some say that they continue to go on getting better and better and stronger than ever. I look forward to this.
These six stages are my own opinion and based on what's happened to me. Whatever stage you may be at and however long it takes everyone will recover from Benzo withdrawal. I should add that any addition of antidepressants, antipsychotics or even taking benzos again will alter these stages and could return you back to the start. Perseverance, belief and acceptance of all that happens, with help if available, will see you through. It's great on the other side and life is still there waiting for us when it's all over.
7 April 2016 - Negative Thinking
I've just written this on the Facebook group and believe it's worth emphasising here as well. Positive thinking really does aid withdrawal so be mindful of your thoughts at all times.
Withdrawal generates negative thinking.....'I'm going to be like this forever', 'I'm getting worse every day' etc. Please be aware that dwelling on negative thoughts or even verbalising them can make them worse. If you have a negative thought try and replace it with a positive one quickly to counteract it. I know how hard this is but I also know it does help with recovery and stop us panicking over symptoms. I followed the Gupta program for several months which helped me realise the necessity to keep negativity to the minimum. We all know the saying 'We are what we eat' but also remember, 'We are what we think'. Gupta uses a complicated routine of 'stops' every time a negative thought comes into your mind. I still use that routine in a shorter way to try and keep negative thinking to the minimum. 'Stop, stop, stop' is my mantra when negativity creeps in plus 'I can do this and be happy and healthy again'. I also use the meditations and other advice. I had a Gupta therapist for several sessions and she was a great help but this was when in tolerance withdrawal before I realised what was wrong with me. It still helps me today.
Beating Benzos was started to try and provide positive help for those suffering a rough withdrawal or wanting to withdraw but needed support. It's hard not to be scared by some of the suffering we read about but always remember everyone is different, nobody experiences all possible symptoms, no two people have the same withdrawal even if on the same drug for the same amount of time, not everyone has a bad withdrawal and above all everyone recovers in their own time. My Love to you this Thursday morning. 💜
I continue towards full recovery, still fragile but longer Windows are the norm as bad symptoms fade. I do believe that my positive belief in my own recovery has helped me get through this mammoth withdrawal journey. If I'd lost hope and dwelt only on the negativity I don't know if I would have made it this far.
17 March 2016 - This is 'It' at Last!
I’ve not been writing here a lot as really there’s very little to report. Now, approaching 40 months free from benzos, every day is seeing further improvements. There’s no doubt that this is ‘it’ now. That elusive ‘it’ I’ve been waiting and longing for over these seemingly endless months of suffering. Many a time I’ve written in my Blog how I thought the end was near and many a time I’ve been wrong only to be plunged into a wave and had to deal with the frustration, sorrow and despair that this brought with it.
It’s all very different now. The nights have become calm and sleep is the norm rather than just an occasional event. Insomnia is fading into the past, night-time cortisol surges rarely make an appearance and when they do are mild and non-threatening. Waves are limited to one day infrequently when I just feel foggy headed and low and can be easily endured. I fully expect any lingering symptoms to disappear over the following few months. I may still be fragile and have to watch what I put into my body but I know my strength is returning and I feel happy and well. All this and the summer is approaching to look forward to with expectation and enjoyment this year. Perhaps I will soon be able to plan ahead again.
So that is ‘it’, recovery happens. Even someone like me with a long, long history of benzos, a cold turkey, approaching the Autumn of life and a horrible, protracted withdrawal can recover. There’s so much more to be said and I have every intention of writing more over the next few months. For a start I’m not entirely convinced that protracted withdrawal is dependent on the GABA receptors being up-regulated as I think there are far more factors at play. It’s certainly not as simple as this. I will put these thoughts into words over the next few posts.
28 Feb. 2016...Sunshine and Springtime
Once again Spring is on the way. The photo Is of the daffodils growing in the fields that surround my home. They are such uplifting and happy flowers in their gorgeous frilly, yellow dresses. With the appearance of these flowers, the lengthening of the days, more sunshine and the promise of summer to come this is a very uplifting time of year.
I've little to add to my last message. My days are improving as are my nights but I still get the occasional 'blip' when I'm reminded that I'm still fragile and must tread carefully for awhile. After so much suffering for so long it's not coming to a sudden end for me but more of a gentle but bumpy decline in symptoms. It's been a long time but please rest assured this journey is different for everyone and these final stages will also vary for each of you and for most will happen much earlier on your recovery timeline.
I will be tidying up my blog pages soon so if you have any suggestions for alterations or anything you would like included please let me know here or by email. I want it to be as useful as possible to the many suffering this dreadful withdrawal syndrome. Thanks for reading 👍💕
- 9. Feb, 2016
A short update of my blog as February gets underway. A month of stormy weather down here in the southwest of the U.K. However things are not so stormy with me now and after a few days of adjustment (my new term for waves) I'm now in a much better place and finding, at long last, I'm getting nights of peaceful sleep and days of energy and calm. Long may it all last.
I want to write about the sadness I feel for those who are unable to believe the withdrawal process can be this bad or last such a long time. Having just had a conversation with someone who refuses to believe people on benzos ever get well, and so turned to the drug again only to get a paradoxical reaction, I am feeling very frustrated. I wonder what else we can do to help those suffering so much that complete recovery cannot be envisaged so they condemn anyone who tries to help. I think this is yet another symptom of our disturbed brains but a very difficult one as it takes away any hope of healing for them.
I want to assure everybody that we do recover, all symptoms of withdrawal lift completely and we will return to our lives again. All my symptoms, apart from anxiety on occasions when faced with added stress, have left me at present. Something may return, I don't know but even if it does I am so much better than I was two years ago and the year previous to that. Only in a wave does my belief get challenged but I know this is how recovery happens. Those earlier in the process don't have the experience of pulling through the bad times and may therefore attack any attempts at help. We can only continue to reassure and advise and leave it up to them. I'm stronger now and better able to withstand the batterings that those of us who try to help may have to suffer. We will all recover, believe.
- 3. Feb, 2016
The Kraken Wakes
Where am? I What am I going through? Who am I now? I can answer the first two questions but not the last. I’m at over 38 months off benzodiazepine drugs, I’ve been through a very traumatic withdrawal that’s happened in windows and waves. I’m still going through stuff but mostly persistent anxiety especially with any stress. As I emerge on the other side I’ve no idea who I am now. I seem to have entered a world very different to the one I left all those years ago.
That’s it really. I’m in the process of trying to see my way through what I still believe is my final stage. I had a dramatic wave over January which precipitated several bedridden, shaking days. They could only be survived by retreating into myself and holding on to the belief that it would all pass again. I am through all that but I’m left with a feeling of not being quite right, weakness, spaciness and the need to retreat into a warm place and just keep quiet and calm. I think the wave is still with me and hasn't completely run its course yet but I certainly seem to be in a different place. Some nights have been filled with stress, nightmares and even hallucinations while others have been calm, with almost six peaceful hours of slumber.
I feel very ‘raw’ as if every part of my body and brain has been turned inside out and thrown into a new dimension. The sun is brighter, noises are louder, and emotions are running high. I feel more depressed than I’ve ever been throughout this but I suppose this is to be expected. The world is louder, brighter, more chaotic than it’s ever been for me. I feel a strong sense of right and wrong and of the injustices that seem to dominate the news. It will be interesting to see how this period turns out! I only hope I return to the happy, positive person with a love of life and acceptance of change that’s the ‘somebody’ I used to be. Only time will tell.
I love John Wyndham novels so the title of this preamble is how I feel at the moment….a monster emerging from the deep so to speak. It’s certainly reminiscent of a Science Fiction movie where you wake up into a world of the future unable to recognize much of which you were familiar.
- 19. Jan, 2016
Hello at last. I’ve been waiting to see what happens before writing an update. I have had several relatively peaceful weeks then a wave hit on Saturday, out of the blue and sent me bemoaning the unfairness of all this after suffering so long. I had a couple of nights of total insomnia as my heart rate revved up and anxiety overwhelmed me. I was even pacing the house again at one point. The good thing was it didn’t last. Two days of under the covers or glued to the television screen for distraction and I rose again from the pain and delirium on day three after nine hours of peaceful sleep.
This seems to be the general pattern as I recover. Most days I’m normal and feel part of life again then suddenly I can be hit and have to retreat into my shell. It really is impossible to make head or tail of it all but obviously the brain is learning that I really will not tolerate these waves any longer so it better get its pathways cleared and acting as they should.
Please always remember that everyone has a different recovery and yours may not happen like this. This model of shorter waves and longer windows as time goes on seems pretty common however and eventually, hopefully, the brain will have got itself just right and allow real life to resume unhindered. I do know of some who have turned very fast and woken one morning to be well and others who’ve had no windows and just gradually seen a lessening of symptoms. Whatever happens this always brings recovery. We may be sensitive for a long time afterwards and need to pace ourselves carefully and learn how to deal with any stresses we have to face but the horrors of benzo withdrawal will eventually be laid to rest.
- 1. Jan, 2016
So here it is 2016, long awaited by those of us watching time pass and recovery unfold. Today I want to emphasis the need to remain as positive as you can throughout your withdrawal however long it may be taking. Negative thoughts, negative conversations and a constant search for answers is not the way to help yourself. Your pattern of withdrawal will unfold in a manner that is right for you. It's your brain recovering, nobody else's so trust yourself and know, over the next year healing will continue for you.
My journey is now smoother and more linear with less deviations and road blocks. It's so much easier now the worst of the symptoms have left me. I still have to pace myself and my nights still get disrupted by the adrenaline rushes but everything is returning to normal slowly and surely. I'm 37 months off benzos.
My message for 2016 is please keep positive, please understand that your symptoms will not be the same as those of your withdrawal friends. Of course seek reassurance from experts especially in the UK where helplines exist or even ask your doctor if you are worried about anything. Maintain a diet that is healthy, do some light exercise if possible, distract and don't focus on symptoms or constantly discuss them with others as you're just imprinting them on your brain and giving them importance. Also don't remain sitting within four walls day after day however ill, try and move to another room, you're not a prisoner. If you can go out then get a change of scene every day, in your garden if you have one or a short car ride if you have support as it all helps. The brain is 'plastic' it responds to negative thoughts and actions especially if you believe them and remain afraid of them. Please feed it with the positive and read success stories, talk to people who've recovered and be mindful of your thinking at all times. Repetition of a negative pattern becomes a habit that's hard to shift. On the other hand positive repetition will reinforce the subconscious mind and provide the certainty that you are healing thus helping the process.
A very Happy New Year to everyone fighting this battle and I wish you much health and joy in 2016.
- 24. Dec, 2015
Tomorrow is Christmas and next week the start of a new year which I hope will be a year of positive healing for everyone reading this blog.
I continue on my recovery journey and, as yet, no more waves and no bad symptoms. Life's stresses continue but I'm becoming more resilient and able to go with them without overreaction. I will return in the new year but for now may you all have a happy day tomorrow and enjoy it the best you can even if alone as I know some of you will be.
- 16. Dec, 2015
Christmas is Coming
At this time of year there's always a lot of added stress so any withdrawal problems are likey to ramp up a bit. In spite of this I'm a lot better than I was a year ago and just looking forward to a very quiet celebration this year with my husband. The main reason for lack of family visits is that my sons are suffering problems of their own. One has been in hospital and awaits an operation while the other has a mother-in-law also in hospital. My symptoms pale into insignificance with those they are facing. I'm actually looking forward to a quiet time and doing our own thing.
I am continuing with my final recovery with various dips into the valley of despond along the way. Mostly the pain symptoms have reappeared and I'm believeing this is just another group of symptoms that my brain is now in the process of repairing. In spite of this I'm getting out and about and my head is a lot clearer.
A very Happy Christmas to all following my website and may Christmas 2015 bring some respite and even full recovery for you.
- 16. Dec, 2015
Christmas can be a time of increased stress especially for those of us surviving Benzo damage. Symptoms can increase and worry about coping with family gatherings and excited children may cause reactions. Just keep a safe haven within your home to escape to if it all gets too much for you. Hopefully you will have someone beside you who understands and can care for you.
Also, don't look back on past Christmases and think you were so much better then but look forward to future Christmases when you're fully recovered. Remember you are healing, you're strong and you will be or are free of Benzos so in time will reach a happier place from which to enjoy life again. My love to you all as Christmas 2015 approaches.