Benzodiazepine withdrawal story. Through hell and out the other side

I posted a video featuring Matt Samet a while ago: Benzos: a short video — “it really is that bad”. Someone who saw that video and read the story I linked to in the post about his protracted withdrawal illness thought that perhaps he’d never recovered because in those pieces of media his recovery was still in progress.

Well he has recovered and he now has a blog at Mad in America. It took him several years to recover. I know a lot of us now for which it takes years. He found ways to cope and grow and use the time he was ill for the best. That too is what I’m learning to do as I remain very ill three years post withdrawal. It’s good to hear his story at this juncture.

He came out The Other Side:

mattsametWhat I’d like to write about on this blog and what I know the chemically imprisoned me of seven years ago would most wonder is, what is life like on the other side? That is, how does it feel to live free of psychiatric medications and the shackles of any attendant diagnoses after years of dependency, both on the drugs and the system? And perhaps more importantly, how did I persist through the hell of withdrawal and reintegrate into the world in a meaningful way, all the while with no guarantee that it might ever happen? In my conversations with other people living similar stories, that’s often one of the first questions that comes up: How did you do it — how did you get better? (And I am better, almost completely so!) And of course, “Will I get better too?”

The easiest answer and the first one I turn to is also the simplest: time. I did my research, realized it would likely take months and years — not weeks — for my brain and nervous system to normalize to something resembling a baseline state, and I made my peace as best I could with a time span then ultimately unknowable, even as I craved nothing more than its end. Even as I prayed for a fast-forward button on my very life so that I might wake up some magical, sun-soaked morning no longer paralyzed by a swarm of profound and horrific symptoms.

But time is only half the equation, because the true crux is what you do with that time. There is no fast-forward button on life, and I don’t believe there should be. Why treat your stint on Earth, even the darkest hours, like slogging through an eight-hour shift at some crappy, low-paying job? The benzo sites I visited would offer guidelines for healing — 18 months, three years, varies among individuals — that I at first clung to as goalposts and almost as doctrine, practically X’ing off days on the calendar. But it was the wrong approach. As I learned, to truly get well, I needed to utilize and even “enjoy” those bleak, mirthless months, weeks, days, minutes, seconds, and microseconds of psycho-spiritual hell, because I simply had no clue when they would end. (continue reading)

death gripYes, that is how I manage too. I have no choice but to find joy even in the midst of hell. And that is really how it works. The thing is once you can do that, then the other side promises truly great things.

For more information about benzodiazepines and benzodiazepine withdrawal see: Benzo Info

More info: Psychiatric drug withdrawal and protracted withdrawal syndrome round-up

Matt has written a book too: Death Grip: A Climber’s Escape from Benzo Madness

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