Further Updates from March 2018
I continue to do well and will resume my Blog posts whenever anything new occurs to me. I want this website to be as useful to those recovering as possible. Always remember recovery is happening on the time line that is right for you. Even long protracted people like me at six years off do eventually get better. Symptoms that came with benzos will go with your recovery.
If there is any subject concerning benzos or their withdrawal you would like to have more information about and it’s not on this site then please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. In the meantime a Very Happy Christmas 2018 to all those reading this.
Now I’m nearly six years away from that huge jump into the unknown i.e. stopping benzodiazepine drugs cold turkey after 40 years of use for sleep. That day was to prove the start of crippling anxiety and pain that was to continue in windows and waves up to the present day. I believe this six year mark is the time it’s taken my brain to recalibrate and finally show obvious healing. I’ve fought my way through day by day and through a multitude of symptoms that caused my body to become a relentless torture chamber of fear and agony, sometimes so bizarre that I never even spoke about this or I would have been given a label and packed away to a psychiatric hospital. I’ve prayed for the release of death but my prayer was never answered for which I’m now grateful. I’ve had little medical support and my one trip to an Accident and Emergency Department for acute pain in my teeth and jaw sent me scurrying home to hide in the safety of my bed even further traumatised. The disbelief and attempts to label me as a mental health problem made me realise the awful situation that all Benzo sufferers face if they dare to seek medical help. If I hadn’t understood what was happening to me, even before I stopped the drugs, I could well be still drugged to this day and may not even be alive. As it is I am well and happy and gaining back my lost adult years; my head is clear, my sleep has mostly returned and my motivation and energy are emerging.
Lessons learnt along the way are the subject for another blog as there are so many but my thoughts about recovery are here.....
Recovery is an individual experience and can’t be compared to anybody else’s, it’s unique and personal. It’s also a process that we follow according to our own beliefs, attitudes and values which are formed from our own conditioning and self concepts. The past has gone, the traumatic experience of Benzo withdrawal has gone, our anger at what’s been done to us must be released as well as we seek ways to return to a happy and stable life which doesn’t include the need for a drug to help us through our days and nights. Recovery means the development of a whole new outlook, a new way of understanding the meaning of life and why we have been made to suffer such an indescribable nightmare. We have to let go of that experience but at the same time use it to feed our future and so the years ahead are meaningful and productive. It’s nothing to do with seeking relief for the symptoms any more (although we will have learnt that these have to be experienced and fought without further drugs, including some supplements) it’s now focussed on getting to know ourselves and becoming the best example of that we can be. There’s still a long road ahead for those of us that have been drugged for decades but I look on that road as an exciting time in which I operate in an entirely different bubble of existence as I learn new ways of thinking and new ways of dealing with the normal and inevitable stresses that life brings with it. The upshot is that I have learnt that life doesn’t need a pill to live it but needs a greater understanding of the person deep within us and the limitations and possibilities within that person. Everyone reading this has the potential for complete recovery even if that recovery may not be what they expected. We don’t return to our former selves we return to a higher self and one that has enormous strength, resilience and understanding.
(The photo is from the Facebook Beating Benzos Protracted Group where members over 18 months off benzos and other drugs can discuss their concerns and observations).
The process we have to go through to reach full recovery is extremely difficult for some of us and it's really hard to believe all the pain and anguish are actually necessary for our healing. I learnt that fighting the symptoms just made them worse but trusting in this process eventually led to the healing of that particular system or symptom. There seems to be a commonality in that things can get worse before they get better and therefore when a symptom is particularly ferocious this could be the last time that it makes an appearance. Understanding this can happen has helped me through some of the worst times on my long and arduous recovery journey but it's all been worthwhile to come to a place of peace and freedom.
Over the last three weeks I've had an upsurge of pain throughout my body but worst in my left hip, back and fingers. At first I panicked thinking this must be arthritis or some other equally debilitating disease that was here for the rest of my life. Today it's very mild, almost gone and I feel well and happy. Once I let go of the anguish and trusted that this was just another uptick in the recovery process the pain diminished and I've no doubt will completely go.
I read of so much suffering on the various Benzo support groups that it's hard not to be drawn into the abyss myself. Believing in our own healing has to be the way to go and just letting it happen as it must so we can eventually be free in a peaceful body.
I Should add that the anxiety that has plagued me for so many years now, right from tolerance to the present day, seems to have finally made it's exit from my life. In my last post it was my worst symptom so another example of a symptom ramping up before it's final disappearance (I hope).
I’m now looking at various theories, techniques and so on to try and help me conquer my residual anxiety. After forty years of being ‘calmed’ unnaturally by Benzos I have to retrain my GABA receptors to do this for themselves as they
now have to stand alone, unaided. Anxiety remains my worst and only symptom so this is essential for me to conquer before I can finally be myself again.
I’ve read a lot but don’t want to make a list of all this rather just take what I’ve learnt that’s benefited me and helped me along my final stages of this journey.
We are amazing human beings created from nothing and eventually to return to nothing. But is this really nothing or did we exist in some way before we were born and given consciousness? The most revealing and repetitive answer to this in all I’ve read and listened to on YouTube is that we all came from energy and we all return to that energy. Along the way we assimilate a multitude of habits, thoughts, beliefs, coping systems and so on that make up who we think we are and who others think we are. We are born with no preconceived thoughts we are just a blank canvas of innate intelligence waiting to be painted on through life experiences. Whatever picture goes on to that canvas that innate intelligence or wisdom remains deep inside us and cannot be lost. It gets covered up and may lie buried for a lifetime but it’s still there, guiding us even though we may not know this. It’s locating that inner wisdom that can enhance our lives and overcome what happens outside us in our world. The severity of withdrawal from prescription Benzos has forced me to look into a more spiritual existence.
I’ve called this Blog ‘Checking In’ because this is how I’ve chosen to combine the various techniques and understandings to help me slowly locate that inner wisdom and overcome my anxiety. There are many physical practices that we can learn such as the Emotional Freedom Technique or Tapping, Gupta therapy, deep breathing, Yoga, HeartMath and so on but none of these ever helped me to do more than perhaps overcome any hell in the moment, they didn’t last. It's necessary to go beyond these more superficial practices to something that doesn’t require learning anything at all, it just requires that we remain in the thinking and follow the conversations where it’s outlined in books and videos. In fact we just need to listen. This is called the ‘Inside Out Understanding’. We should live our lives from the inside out and not from the outside in. If we just live from the outside we may become materialistic, strive for recognition, and constantly overstressed by life events that challenge us. If we acknowledge that its our thoughts creating our experiences we start to realise the importance of something deeper within ourselves. What happens to us on the outside is reacted to by our thoughts which create our emotions and feelings and even who we are in this world. Therefore every so often, throughout my day, I check in to myself and to what is going on in my body....where it is in space, what position am I in, what am I feeling, what are my thoughts and watching my breathing as I do this. I will write more next time but it takes awhile to understand all this and I know I haven’t yet and this may be muddled but it’s a start for me and helping me deal with any stress as it appears in my life. I will also list helpful books and websites. Thanks for reading my ramblings!