A Success Story

Posted on 22nd October 2016

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 early menopause. 

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.

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