A Message of Hope for those Tapering (anonymous)

A message of hope for you all from a fellow Benzo sufferer close to the end of her slow taper.....

The one thing I want to convey to you is HOPE. This is coming from someone who thought she'd never see the light of day again.... who hung on to the tiniest thread of sanity that I could for day after day after day. My faith is what kept me going and the words of hope from others who had been through benzo hell and had healed. We ALL heal eventually.

I am nearly at the end of my taper which began a little over 2 years ago. When I found out the devastating truth about benzos, I made up my mind that I was getting off them regardless of how hard it was or how long it took. This past November I began to notice such a positive difference. My symptoms were gradually getting better. Talk about gratitude! It was if I'd been given a new lease on life. Everything looked better to me and life was much sweeter. Sometimes I think we have to go through hell to realize the beauty in ordinary days. At least that is the way that I look at it now. I will not get into specifics, but just that my doc put me on diazepam to help me sleep and calm me down during a life stressor. I was hooked on that mess in 10 days... we are ALL different, so these meds affect us all differently, which some think is due to genetics. I caution folks now in this dilemma benzo trap not to compare themselves or their symptoms to others. You just cannot. I refused to read the scary negative stories when I was in the worst of it. It is amazing how the mind plays tricks on you when you are in the depths of this benzo maze. I just want people to focus on getting better and well, no matter HOW LONG it takes. You have to hang on, you have to be strong and know that eventually things will ease up. I was convinced that I was dying, but had a tiny glimmer of hope that things would eventually get better.

I am tapering very very slowly so that I can still function. You have to find a pace that suits you no matter what the doctor or books or the internet tells you. If your doc does not let you go at your own pace and hold your dose when you need to, find another one who does! Be focused, stay the course, never go back up, and don't try to medicate the symptoms away (only makes it worse IMO).... I stayed away from sugar, caffeine, gluten, additives, preservatives, anything stimulating, and I even changed out all my bath and body products to all natural w/ no chemicals... the purer your diet and what you put on your skin, the better.... and do NOT watch or listen to the negative news! Stay clear of anything that is stressful. The only supplements that I could take were magnesium, Ester-C, and a very small amount of natural vitamin D3 from fish liver oil. (D3 can be stimulating for some, as it is a steroid, and I noticed as I got to feeling better, I could take more of it)... I also have a spoonful of coconut oil every day. I eat lots of fresh fruits and vegetables and very lean cuts of meat and gluten free whole grains. But remember, we are ALL different.... what helps one person may not another and vice versa.

I just want to give you some hope that it DOES get better in time. Time is our best friend throughout this. You will heal, but you have to stay the course and never give up. Hope this helps in some small way someone today.

My Long and Winding Road to Recovery by Karen


My story began 3 years ago when I started having severe pain and
ache in my right jaw. I went to the dentist and was told I had TMJ and
was given a prescription for Advil (Ibuprofen) at 800 mg. twice a day.
Much too much as it turned out. This was my first big mistake as I will share with you later on. I started to get insomnia almost immediately and the beginnings of anxiety. I took Advil for 2 months. My ears began to ring. This all led me to go to a regular physician…a new doctor for me as mine had retired.

I was 67 years old at this time and this doctor felt I was having some
“old age” issues and she prescribed an antidepressant to be taken “for only 6 to 8 weeks” and that should “do the trick” as she said. After only two weeks on this pill I became violently ill with worse insomnia and threw up everything I tried to eat. I began to cry all the time. My ear ringing became worse. Forward to the next trip to the doctor when I was told that this was “normal” and I had to give it 8 weeks to “settle in”. If I was told to take it for 8 weeks but it took 8 weeks for it to kick in, how did this make sense? She had no answer. But, I could not bare to take this pill for more than one week more and stopped. Things got worse. Little did I know but I had become addicted to this antidepressant that quick.

The next trip to the doctor and now she said I needed to be on a tranquilizer, Xanax, for a “couple of months”. I asked about addiction and she said no problem, it would not addict me in that short a time. She would wean me off for 2 weeks and I would be fine. I believed her.

Things became so much worse from this point on and after 1 month I told her I wanted off the tranquilizer. But unfortunately, I was already addicted to this Xanax just as I was from the antidepressant. She then “suggested” she could no longer help me and that I needed to go to a psychiatrist. I was so desperate by this time with so many inexplicable physical and mental symptoms that I agreed.

This pyschiatrist immediately took me off the Xanax and put me on Klonopin and Zoltoff . He promised he would wean me off these in two weeks and I would no longer be an “accidental addict” as he called me. Fast forward one month and I was completely addicted to both these medications, increasing my dosage almost every day and thought I was loosing my mind. No sleep at all. Horrible shaking and fears, anxiety attacks, and many other symptoms. Still could not eat. I lost 20 lbs and was still loosing.

I agreed to be checked into a local hospital for help with my weaning off the drugs by this psychiatrist who had promised he would do for me but could not. I was told that this was the best hospital in our area for my problem and they would help me. I believed him. I was put into a locked down ward of addicts and prison patients. I only stayed one week as they did not do one thing for me and I NEVER saw the head psychiatrist … he only sent me different pills each day to “try out”. I was absolutely not helped but made worse. Thank God the room I was given was never opened up to a roommate so I did have some privacy but the ward was full of frightening people and the food inedible. I never slept a wink, never left the room. I was given a one month weaning schedule when I checked out which I tried to follow but It was so impossible as my symptoms got worse and worse as I cut back even the tiniest bit.

During this time I accidentally discovered Benzo Buddies on the web and so much was explained to me about what I was going through from this wonderful website of terrific people. I became email friends with a lovely lady from England who was a great source of support as we both suffered through our horrendous road to recovery. She will always be my special forever friend. There were two others on BB who also helped me but just reading success stories helped so much. I tried to stay away from bad stories or comparisons or suggestions for supplements but it was hard. I also found the Bloom in Wellness site which was so uplifting and supportive.

Not one doctor offered an ounce of help for me. All their promises were empty as all they wanted to do was give me more pills. When I came out of the hospital that same psychiatrist wanted to put me on another tranquilizer and two more antidepressants! I told him he was nuts and that I was not taking one more pill. I never saw him again and neither he nor my so called doctor ever contacted me to see how I was doing.

I sincerely felt I would never recover. Never be normal. It was a roller coaster of waves and windows of symptoms and healing. I cried buckets. I won’t go into symptoms as we all pretty much suffer the same ones. My poor husband of 40 years, though a great support, was beside himself with worry. I lost many so called friends. Even my own Mom could not understand what was happening. How could she as I couldn’t either!

I finally decided to cold turkey and stopped taking every pill. This was probably not the wisest thing per Dr. Ashton’s paper but I just was so very ill that I wanted them gone from my life. I was, however, never suicidal.

This was when my recovery truly started and it was the hardest thing I have ever faced in my life. I was only on the pills for 5 months but it has taken two years to feel normal again and now another year to be 100%. During this time I did discover a DNA Genetic Blood Test that was recommended and I had it done. Low and behold, it showed that my Liver does not metabolize drugs and 8 out of 9 liver enzymes were not working at 100% or even at 50% and this was the reason I became addicted so quickly and took so long to recover. My body could not get rid of these drugs. I believe that they get into every cell, even in your bones. But in my case, with my dysfunctioning liver, it was worse. And the lab that did this blood test said that over 60% of these tests they run show that many many people have the same issues with their livers and with prescribed drugs or over the counter medications. This was probably the only good news that came out of this time in my life. I now had a reason for my symptoms and it all started with Advil which is one of the drugs I should never take. My list is long of drugs I should never take and I keep it with me as well as in the records at my new doctor and hospital. Emergency rooms are famous for putting tranquilizers into drips when people come in so I am very cautious about that as well. I can’t even drink caffeine or eat MSG in my foods. I have to be cautious of supplements. I question everything a doctor says or prescribes. I wear a medical bracelet about my liver.

Our bodies are truly miraculous and they will heal us. It just takes time and that might be different for each of us. I took it year by year, day by day, some times, hour by hour. I kept as positive as I could and it was so life saving to have my friend from England who helped me to do that as I hope I helped her. I could moan to her at any hour and she was there, as I tried to be as well for her. My husband was so wonderful but I did not want to burden him with all my fears and symptoms 24 hours a day.

I have completely changed my diet and am very careful what medications I take, if any. I changed doctors, of course, and found one that is very open to NOT taking pills for everything, though, he is still a doctor after all and believes in pharmaceutical answers to our illnesses.

Please, dear friends, believe you will get well because you will. Time is not your enemy but your friend and the time it takes to heal depends on so many things that you have no control over. Let go of time expectations! It will take however long your body needs to heal. Keep positive. Stay strong. “Every day, in every way, you are getting better and better”. Believe that! I told myself every morning, “I am happy, healthy, healed and strong.” I had little notes all over my bedroom for encouragement. I listened to tapes of positive things. I Listened to soothing music when I was finally able to do that again. I read love stories and silly children’s books when I could finally read again. I took baby steps in getting back into the world of noise and people. I watched only feel-good movies, no late night news. I protected and still protect myself as much as possible from medications and doctors. I keep busy and active and eat well.

Life will still present you challenges and you must face them, so be prepared... life goes on. Be a survivor!!!!! Share your story and help others who are facing withdrawal and addiction to prescribed medications. We need each other.

Blessings and I wish you well,
Karen Marie Jahns
From the beautiful State of Montana, United States