A long time friend/reader who is still in the worst ugly phase of protracted withdrawal sent me a note the other day. In it he was talking about how he could not come to terms with everything he’d lost. He cannot stop grieving. He feels cheated. He had been an athlete and competent parent and a successful professional in his field. He was prescribed a benzodiazepine for a first time incident with acute anxiety (had no history of prior psychiatric issues or treatment). He took said benzo for only 2 months and he was one of the not unheard of number of folks who react as if they’ve been on meds for decades, like me, when he discontinued it. He’s been ill for 5 years now and is unable to work, parent in a meaningful way or exercise. I understand his sense of loss. It is nothing short of completely devastating. I still struggle with not being able to do many things people generally take for granted as well. I still am learning what I shared with him.
I thought I would share part of my response here for others who still find themselves in this dark quagmire.
Ah…it’s the grieving and the inability to accept what has happened that is most likely hurting you most at this point. But, that does eventually give…hang with it…feel it. It’s okay to have all that ugly shit and just stew in it as long as you need to because eventually we do have to come to terms with the fact that this is it…this is our life. And while we can’t control much of what is happening to us we can in time come to have a different attitude about it. That, though, happens in its own time and it’s no good to blame yourself or try to make it happen any faster. Knowing it will give though…can help it ease…just think about the fact that it can and will give. I’m sure you’ve had moments of that already…tiny glimmers maybe…but remember those…they will help transform the experience.
I still go into high resistance places and I hurt more when I’m there. I’ve been sick close to a decade…and I’m not as bad as I was…but I’m sure as hell am still gravely disabled. I do trust that LIFE works in me…and if I let it life will continue to reveal it’s wonder…and that is my source of comfort…
I have a friend who studies the neurology of awakening to the nature of reality and consciousness. He often has said to me that the brain remembers the good stuff. This is another way of thinking of neuroplasticity. If we get to a place where we accept and are okay with things just as they are, our brain likes that…it remembers and does all it can to get back there. In this way we can trust that if we do things to help us accept and find goodness in life, even now, in the darkness, our brain will, in effect continue to conspire to get to those glimmers of hope and joy we sometimes see and feel.
I have learned that even in the midst of great suffering I can find joy. In the darkest corners now I see how life is good. I am profoundly grateful for my neuroplastic brain which will help me continue on this path.
More related from Beyond Meds:
For my recovery story so far see: Everything Matters: a Memoir From Before, During and After Psychiatric Drugs and Believe and Know . . . (as it pertains to psych drug withdrawal syndrome or serious illness) and There is Big Medicine in Everyone
This is how I became ill by psychiatric treatment: The aftermath of polypsychopharmacology: my story on Dr. David Healy’s site –this is the most complete short synopsis of having been grossly over-drugged and my path to drug freedom.
For those of you who are facing protracted withdrawal issues or other chronic illness: Information and inspiration for the chronically ill
For a post on our amazing plastic brains that can heal and be made well again, see: Neuroplasticity: enormous implications for anyone who has been labeled with a psychiatric illness
And for information on safer withdrawal methods and care once in withdrawal see: Psychiatric drug withdrawal and protracted withdrawal syndrome round-up
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