This is an email I wrote to a friend who asked what it was like to experience the post benzo withdrawal. I don’t write much anymore, even emails to friends and family, so I figured I’d be economical and use this on the blog.
I began the description:
Have you tripped before? I often feel like I’m having a bad trip and it’s the part in which one is coming down…strange sensations and terror…as well as semi-psychotic thought processes…
I put together a rare post around a description I found on facebook by a woman who had a similar journey:
Here is her description:
“I was taking Ativan for a non-anxiety problem for three years. I developed crippling symptoms of all kinds and became bed-ridden and saw more than 30 doctors who misdiagnosed me with many syndromes and incurable diseases that I never had…more than 70 symptoms. An 18-month withdrawal was a journey through the dark abyss. At 41 months off, I am me again and have almost no symptoms at all! Hang in there people!!”
I don’t do well with this sort of correspondence these days…have virtually none of it. It’s very taxing. In any case you see it took the above woman several years to recover. It’s f***ing weird…it’s truly mental illness…brain dysfunction caused by the drugs. Dysfunction I’ve never had before drugs. The neurotransmitters take a long time to all get back in line and function normally again….
Oh…I can’t talk..talking causes the terror to get more intense…so I’m very very isolated and I was a big talker and very social.
I only see my husband and a wonderful woman who is a hospice chaplain…no other human beings because they tend to act like I have leprosy…it’s awful.
Here is an email Paul wrote me after talking to one of my recovered benzo friends who is also a psychologist who has worked extensively with people through this recovery process…it might say more to make it clear. She and others like her make it possible to conceive that I will make it through this.
From my husband telling me what was discussed in the phone call:
“Before I forget what was said.
Firstly, the unremitting terror is normal. The fear that it will do irreparable damage is normal. To question whether you will ever recover is normal. To have problems with vision – blurriness, light sensitivity – is normal. Muscle problems, normal. Not being able to talk, to articulate or to think clearly – all normal.
For Jen, all of this was at its most intense in the first two months. It was four months before she left the house.
The thing she emphasizes more than anything is to avoid stimulation and to listen to your body when it comes to judging what you can or cannot do. She said that for four months virtually all she did to distract herself was look at National Geographic and gardening magazines. Avoiding arousal and finding ways of soothing yourself – these are the main things.
The bottom line is that based on what I told her about your symptoms, she sees no reason to believe that you are going through anything other than a typical recovery process. What is untypical is that you had such a long journey to arrive at this point. But having got here, everything that makes this so tormenting is very typical. There was nothing I told her that led her to say she hadn’t heard that before.”
Others have told me it’s taken 6 months before they even had occasional good days but eventually people do recover…it’s mind blowing to me that anyone can make it through this and if I didn’t have these folks who’ve done it before me I don’t think I would.
For more info on benzos both personal and that which has been researched go to the benzo page on this blog.
And it gets better!