This cartoon demonstrates all the demons we may meet along the withdrawal highway before we gain success. Friends and relatives sometimes turn away when it takes years for us to be well, pessimism may live within us when we're unable to believe in our recovery, society tries to issue us with labels such as depression, fear is ever present when symptoms are bad and finally guilt can enter the picture as we near a successful end. It's both that success and whether we should hold on to any guilt that I'm looking at here.
So when do we write our success story? It’s a hard question because I believe recovery means different things to different people. For one it could be the disappearance of the intense anxiety leaving only vague feelings of illness; for another it could be the easing up of everything with the intensity of all symptoms lessening so the sufferer is able to get back to some sort of life; for another perhaps it may be the continuing of bad waves but not so frequent in their occurrence and, for yet another, it may not be until everything has gone and they are 100% functional and well again.
This is a very personal thing. Probably I’m with the second group at present but don’t feel ready to write my success story at approaching the 33 month off mark. I’m not 100% recovered and I can’t put a percentage on my healing but I’m so much better. I can start to plan ahead because I know that even with minor problems occasionally I can function on most days. For me, the hardest issues to now overcome are facing my social phobia and being able to tolerate a large number of people as well as getting back on the road again in my car which has been garage bound for nearly three years. Once those two hurdles have been jumped and the minor problems are easier that’s when I’ll announce my full success. It will happen but I am able to live more or less normally as I am now.
A second question that’s arisen on the Beating Benzos' Facebook group is, 'Do we blame ourselves for what’s happened to us and therefore feel guilty or should doctors hold all the blame?’ This is something that may be focused on more as a successful recovery happens and perhaps we feel able to look into suing the offending doctors. My answer to this……
‘I took sleeping pills for 40 years but was too busy living my life and put all my symptoms down to my enforced menopause in my twenties. As they got worse I was suspicious but trusted my doctors and believed it to be just anxiety. When it turned into long episodes of panic I started searching and researching but it was a long time before I realised it could possibly all be due to the pills. Finally I was convinced by what I read so stopped taking them to try and get some life back before it was too late. I've tried to sue but it seems my case is too complex and I could lose. I've been without a full life for over five years now but that was due to tolerance as I've since found out.
Yes, I could blame myself for being so stupid but I had a busy life and career and no time to find out the causes for many of my symptoms as doctors always said 'early menopause' or 'anxiety' and never, 'It's the 'Temazepam'. Not until I was retired and after some intensely stressful life events did I eventually realise there was something wrong that wasn’t just a very long menopause. It took ages for me to be sure of the cause. The picture was always clouded by my unknowledgeable doctors. Once I stopped believing them I finally withdrew the drugs and am now seeing the light at the end of a long tunnel. I therefore blame the doctors and not myself in any way. If they'd ever sat down and told me of the dangers of long term use of benzos I would have stopped them years ago and in the correct manner.’
That was my answer and remains my answer. I don’t blame myself or my stupidity for not recognizing what was happening to me sooner. I was at least functioning and chose to get on with my life the best I could trusting my doctors’ diagnoses. If just one of the several GPs I had during my life on benzos had bothered to give his time to giving me a full explanation of what Temazepam, and later Nitrazepam drugs, were doing to my brain I would not have been in the plight I’m in today and have been in for many years. I hold no guilt and I blame the doctors totally for not having the knowledge and for not abiding by the NICE guidelines to prescribe Benzos for two to four weeks only. Sadly my History is too long and complicated to sue them plus one at least is dead. It won’t be until several more court cases against doctors have happened in the UK and been won that perhaps they will start to take notice. It remains a huge and ongoing scandal as I’ve reiterated many times in my Blog posts.
Success and Guilt: I am facing full success at last and I don’t blame myself in any way for taking benzodiazepines. I hold no guilt. Doctors are fully responsible for my dilemma and for the terrible suffering of so many of you prescribed these drugs by a blinkered medical profession. Why blinkered? Because they look only at drugs as a cure all, not at drugs causing harm. The Pharmaceutical companies can obviously not be trusted either as the profits they stand to gain far outweigh any negative warnings that their drugs can also harm. Never hold yourselves to blame, just concentrate on getting through and finding your own success story!
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