“Wow, I survived. I made it. I am amazing. I can handle anything now.”

Tomorrow is five months off of all psychiatric medications. I did not do a dedicated 5 month anniversary post this month as I’ve been doing. This post was written a week or two ago. After my four-month anniversary post I’ve not had another “window” and I’ve not been able to leave the house again let alone drive, but I am improving in more subtle ways. This illness is a bit of a beast and it’s hard to explain the symptoms.

I was fiddling around with my blog. I have a new feature on it where you can click and it pulls up a random post. (on the right side-bar at the top) I have almost 2000 posts now and it’s three years worth of my withdrawal journey. That’s lots of posts, many of which I’ve forgotten.

I found a post from Feb 2008. I was so sick even then. It’s been almost 2 1/2 years and I’m sicker…much sicker…I was still driving from time to time then and would leave my house with some frequency.

I can’t believe how sick and crippled I’ve been and for how long….this is an excerpt from the post in 2008:

I am in more (emotional? spiritual? withdrawal?) pain than I can remember ever being in. I am more physically exhausted and sick than I have ever been as well.

I suffer. My therapist wrote a book on suffering. I’m reading it. The transformative power of suffering. But it talks about natural suffering and neurotic suffering and then transformative, transcendent suffering. Do withdrawal symptoms come under any of those headings? Or is this just suffering with no purpose. Suffering that makes you wither away and die?

Sometimes waves of weakness and fatigue come over me and I have to lay down immediately. It’s so clearly heavy toxicity and my brain crying foul. I cannot walk for more than 10 minutes. Sometimes I cannot walk at all. I am living, quite frankly, with chronic physical illness. And it’s an illness with no legitimacy. I cannot really tell anyone but my closest friends, and they only do their best to understand. Otherwise

I have to make excuses. No legitimacy. None.

It’s after 3 in the morning and sleep does not come. I slept two days in a row before today—thought things were turning.

How long? Can. I. Go. On. Like. This.

Clearly a very very long time…

I sent the above to my benzo network. For the purposes of this blog it’s important to note I am getting better but the recovery is moving at a glacial pace.

One of my inspiring guides is Baylissa Frederick author of the book Benzo Wise: A Recovery Companion and the website by the same name. She is the inspiring guide to thousands of us who have found ourselves in this painful process of recovery from the insult of psychotropic drugs. Baylissa, like me, took benzos. I took many other medications too. I’ve found others who suffer similar illness with other classes of psychotropics too.

I am in contact with Baylissa from time to time. She wrote another wondrous, beautiful and inspiring piece for Beyond Meds on family and relationships and how difficult this painful process is in regards to such relationships.

I had told Baylissa I would love to share more of her work.

As is often the case with electronic communication I then sent her the little piece I just posted above as she was sending me the piece of hers I post below. It was like a response to my piece and yet she had not even read it yet! Lovely synchronicity.

I had written my above piece for my support network and not for the blog. It felt too despairing for the blog. And yet, when Baylissa, prior to reading my little piece, sent her piece, I realized it allows me to print the piece with despair as I know that I am on a similar path as Baylissa and that my future holds what she talks about here…healing and transformation:

The Calm After the Storm

“There is another dimension to the aftermath of withdrawal. Earlier this year during the first few months of no waves, apart from being elated and relieved, I felt slightly shell-shocked and shaken. Withdrawal for me was like having a category five hurricane arrive without warning and having to run inside for shelter, but instead of it lasting hours it lasted two and a half years.

The windows of clarity were akin to the calm that one experiences when the eye of the storm is passing. The waves of symptoms were the high, destructive winds. All I could do was accept my fate, curl up on the sofa and wait for the fury to subside.

At last the storm passed, and I emerged from the rubble feeling grateful for having survived. I looked at the debris and the material damage but felt no sense of loss because I was alive and well. I was feeling better than I had during the tolerance years when the storm was brewing. I consider that period just after the last wave to be my post-trauma period.

Now, almost six months later, I am still in awe of the clarity, lucidity and physical wellness that I am experiencing. I cannot articulate the sense of peace that my experience has brought me. The many days of not being able to go out or even to read left me with no option but to breathe and be still.

I know that coping with benzo withdrawal is a big challenge. Yet, so far, many of us who have now moved on confirm that withdrawal has set us up for life in terms of the lessons and revelations. Learning patience, compassion and appreciation for the simplest things in life are invaluable gifts.

Most of us do not regret having had this experience because once you have recovered you are inclined to think: “Wow, I survived. I made it. I am amazing. I can handle anything now.” It makes the everyday challenges of life seem insignificant. As one friend who is now recovered said, “Life after benzos is a piece of cake.”

You may be feeling shell-shocked because this experience is so surreal, was not anticipated, and literally threw your equilibrium off. It will help if you are able to relax into the present moment, symptoms and all, and remember that you are being set up for life. When this is over, nothing will phase you.”

Thank you dear Baylissa, for your encouraging words of power.

About Monica Cassani

Author/Editor Beyond Meds: Everything Matters