I have some ideas of doing a photo gallery of people in benzo/pharm drug withdrawal. I don't think any video or photograph could quite capture what is happening INSIDE that is so insane and hard to even put into words. It's also so variable from person to person. But it would be Nan Goldin style photographs of all of us warriors, in bed, hobbling around in our environment, victorious and healed!! Send me your healing or struggling photos!
Some on this journey are struck with only mental symptoms and NO physical. I have to say I envy these folks a bit. Others are primarily hit with physical symptoms: intense pain, tingling, prickling, bee sting feeling, shortness of breath, chest pain, insomnia, seizures, hair loss, tooth pain, jaw tightness, throat closing, throat prickling, diarreah, bladder pain,weight loss, pelvic pain on and on and on.. pacing and inner restlessness of course, head pressure, sinus pressure etc etc. How did I forget? ANXIETY AND TERROR, and the blackest depression one will ever know. Suicidal ideation, paranoid looping thoughts, obsessions, phobias and fears.
Others are hit with BOTH.
Am I lucky or WHAT?
Last night I slept.. A LOT. After not sleeping a wink the night prior( I mean literally no sleep until 10am then maybe I got an hour) today I felt drugged (well, I am...)
I felt my legs were wooden and when I woke I wasn't sure if I could walk. I did manage to get up. I stayed close to home during the day and stuck to my commitment of doing one thing out of the house. Today, that exciting thing was going to the bank. I also got my usual burst of evening energy and colored my own hair again tonight in an effort to save dollars. Now the big question is...how the hell do I wind DOWN?
I talked to two amazing benzo friends, friends that I hope to meet in person one day....
Ohhhhh the suffering is great. It's intense and tragic. Both are in disbelief of what is happening, disbelief at the level of intensity of the suffering and the uncertainty of ever getting relief. Both who have had their lives SHATTERED. Job loss, home bound, health issues, you name it.
This is the new normal
A dysfunctional, lack of functioning kind of normal.
Another benzo friend who I know locally has been on the drug for 25 years. Today he said something to me today that made me think. He said, "maybe do the unselfish thing and stay ON the drug". "Maybe put yourself aside, and stay ON the drug FOR your children. Live a limited life so that they can have a mother for the next 5-10 years".
What if he is right?
Because in this process of trying to get off, they may not have a mother. Many things could happen. I could get sick and stay sick for VERY long. I certainly will not be able to care for them for a long long time and that sad fact kills me.
Geraldine Burns tapered off her drugs and stayed sick for at least two years -but close to five until she felt herself. She also had NO physical symptoms. She had disabling anxiety that kept her home bound however and she was sick to her stomach and thought she was going to die. She missed her entire kids events at school. She couldn't participate in anything and her husband had to leave his job. And this was MANY years ago. How have the prescribing practices not changed since then??? Haven't we learned a thing?? She is healed now. She is a wonderful woman that has been very helpful with her warmth and positivity. But as a mother of young kids, her story, like so many others is frightening.
So I have to ask myself... is what I am doing selfish? The possibility (probability) that I will have to leave my home for an extended period of time. The probability that my kids will feel abandoned by my loss. The possibility that I do not ever fully recover to my pre benzo self. Many possibilities. That the chronic stress response activates latent viruses or bacterias ( I am certain it already has) that it cannot fight in this state with no gaba. That excess glutamate permanently damages my nerves and my brain. These are very very possibly things if you knew what I felt like in cold turkey. It felt like something deeply bad happened. That my system went into a kind of shock, a moment where something just..changes.
All of this uncertainty. Life is uncertain. I know I could get hit by a bus or even better win the lottery tomorrow. But we have to weigh our options. Not everyone can do what Bliss Johns did or Jennifer Leigh did. Everyone has their limits, responsibilities, prior health issues.... We have to weigh the pros and cons. I know I don't feel I can go back on. My body is too badly damaged by the drug and on the drug. What happens when I "jump" after this kindling is anyone's guess.
I have to turn it over to my higher power, and the elusive benzo wise doctor that doesn't exist.
I walk alongside so many others and yet there is no sense in comparing our journeys because each and every person is entirely different. We are all different and yet... we are not unique butterflies. There are others that have crossed this path before us, and are reaching their hands out to help...like Geraldine, Jennifer Leigh, Baylissa....
Sending healing to everyone.
Someone who found themselves accidentally dependent and suffered an iatrogenic injury from medications that were prescribed. Sharing experience, strength and hope with others. This is written as a person on this winding path and NOT as a professional. Please contact a licensed professional for any medical/psychological care or advice. This is NOT a substitute for medical or psychological care. What is written here reflects my own personal experience ONLY.