An email to close friends

I wrote this email to a few of my dearest long-time friends after finding out I had insulted someone else I also care for. I insulted her so much that she cut ties with me. Apparently this happened a long time ago, but I didn’t even know until recently as I am unable to stay in touch with people. What I had done according to her was say I could not continue a conversation on the phone because her voice was too shrill. That is how she reported the offense to me.

I don’t remember exactly what I said as it was about a year ago. What I do know is that I can’t talk on the phone at all anymore and at the time I spoke to this friend of mine I was already needing to greatly limit phone calls. I also remember needing to suddenly end the call, something I’ve had to do many times and it’s why I’ve stopped talking on the phone at all. It seems it’s extremely hard for people to be on the receiving end of that. Not speaking to people at all is easier and seems to spare more feelings. Since the time of the phone call with this friend I’ve stopped phone calls almost entirely and I’ve also had to stop most email correspondence. Everything is too much. I “talk” to my husband quite often through email too rather than have discussions face to face in our own home. And almost everyone’s voice sounds tinny on the phone so I’ve actually probably said something similar to what I told the woman I upset to many people. It’s got nothing to do with the persons true voice. But it’s gotten so it’s literally impossible for me to keep listening to, like nails on a chalkboard.

I understand that this is something most people can’t really conceive of–the acute rawness of my central nervous system. For this reason I thought I’d share this letter with you, my readers, some of whom are also my friends, so that you may understand that what may seem like aloofness or indifference or even meanness is something I, at this moment, cannot control. I’d give anything to be able to engage with people I love. I am by nature a social person. This involuntary isolation devastates me. I need to make a cocoon around me in order to heal. I am terribly sorry if I’ve hurt other people and it strikes me now it’s likely I have.

This is the email I wrote to my friends who’ve all met each other, four people I’ve known and loved for 20 plus years who have found that I am no longer available. I miss them terribly and I know that to varying degrees they miss me too. The sentiment works in general for many more of friends and my internet community.

Dear friends,
A friend of mine whom I love, took personally my inability to speak with them on the phone…she has broken our friendship because she perceived my behavior as “mean.”

I want you all to know…and you can see each other (in the send box of the email)…I love you all…and I cannot talk to anyone these days. Correspondence through email is difficult too.

I think people imagine because I say stuff on facebook or I write stuff for the blog occasionally that I’m okay. My energy seems normal, whatever…

The fact is I still can’t get out of bed most days and I’m like a raw wound emotionally…please bare with me folks. I love you and I will be back.

If anyone needs to talk to (my husband) please do…if anyone wants to offer support to him that would be nice too. We are alone in this and pretty much nobody gets the devastation we’ve had to deal with all alone. He is a saint and nothing less.

This is a good clinical description of what I’m going through. Surprisingly well done by Wikipedia.

Benzodiazepine withdrawal syndrome

I’m pretty much the worst case scenario…this started over a year ago and has only gotten more acute. We can hope now that I’m off drugs for a bit over a month things will eventually improve. I imagine my long history of multiple drugs has made the withdrawal worse…though I’m in contact with people who have made it through just a bad a journey who just took benzos alone and are now thriving…some of these folks had absolutely no psychiatric history. They were given benzos for muscle spasms for example.

Since I read that piece on Wiki again recently I noticed a few things I didn’t notice the first time I looked at it. First, benzo withdrawal often looks like severe psychiatric illness, even among those who do not have such a history. Second, some people acquire PTSD from the trauma. I’ve often thought about the powerful traumatizing aspects of this journey and so it was good to see that validated. This is a lonely journey that makes one feel, at least temporarily, apart from humanity. It is a deeply alienating experience. Whatever I was originally put on meds for so many years ago, pales in comparison to my current experience.

Again, I love you all and more importantly for me right now is the fact that I miss you in ways that are acutely painful…I think of you all very often.

Gianna (Monica)

The Wikipedia article I link to above is really an amazing brief but accurate and comprehensive description of benzodiazepine withdrawal. I highly recommend you read it if you have any interest in the phenomena.

And my collection of benzo links is here.

See also: More on When Friends Disappear During a Health Crisis

IT GETS BETTER!

yes, it gets better. I not only can talk again but most of these extreme sensitivities are gone.

see:

Please do not attempt to discontinue psych drugs without first very carefully educating yourself on the risks involved so that you might minimize the chances of developing grave iatrogenic illness if you decide to withdraw: Psychiatric Drug Withdrawal and Protracted Withdrawal Syndrome Round-Up

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About Monica Cassani

Author/Editor Beyond Meds: Everything Matters