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It seemed like a good experience, so when i had another experience of extreme anxiety around 9 months later, I went to another doctor, who prescribed me Librium (related, not available now), on which I was hooked, off and on, for nearly 4 years, until I went off it on my own willpower, knowing nothing about its dangerous side effects (no, not even at 26 1/2, 4 years from my first Benzo), except that the withdrawals were terrible and frightened me; and in the U.S., you needed to pay big money (for a student, which I was) to see a psychiatrist and get a prescription.
Since then, I've had medication-free periods when I was most creative (I published a novel that was extremely well received), but the last chemical-free episode ended as my marriage was drawing to its end, I couldn't sleep, and my doctor-wife suggested many of her patients were managing quite fine on Valium, that I should just resume my nightly dose. From then on, for 17 years, I have not been able to get off of it, but I have written a book titled "Benzo Land: How Doctors and Drug Companies Enslave Us" (at Amazon, Google Play, and Smashwords), which shares my story and my passion to be chemical-free.
My problems with benzodiazepines began when I traveled through Asia in the 70's. I couldn't sleep. I went to see a doctor in Bali and he told me to go to what seemed like a bulk drug pharmacy where I could buy as many Mogadons as I wanted, without prescription. I was told that they were harmless. This was the beginning of a long dependency on these drugs because tragically they were not nearly as easy to get off!
I began to experience rebound insomnia but when I tried to stop taking the pills the symptoms got worse.
Over the years I went to see many different doctors to get help and advice. The advice on how to stop taking them was at best incorrect but often dangerous. Twice, when I fell pregnant I was advised to stop taking the them (cold-turkey) and this can cause seizures. Other times I was told to break the tablets in half and reduce by a quarter every few days. Benzodiazepines need to be tapered slowly for safe tapering. I was also offered a variety of benzodiazepines some of which I tried - the most dangerous one being Halcion which has a half life of somewhere between 2 and 5.5 hours which means the drug leaves the blood stream very quickly. I soon went into tolerance withdrawal and the only way that I can describe it was hell on earth. The only way that I survived was by focusing on my breathing - that was all that I could do. I went from doctor to doctor for help but the advice I got was always completely inappropriate - learn to relax, go to yoga classes or I was offered another drug.
One day I Googled the word Halcion and found that it was banned in several countries but not Australia where I live. I also found a forum called TRAP and they guided me to cross over to Valium and taper off the drug slowly once I stabilized.
I am now 6 years benzo free and I still suffer the effects of these drugs. I had problems with adrenaline throughout my taper and ended up with Adrenal Fatigue soon after I finished. My central nervous system is very weak as is my immune system. It has cost me many thousands of dollars to get myself well enough to get back into the workforce.
I periodically feel very angry with the doctors who prescribed these drugs to me without a word of warning about them and those who have given me so much incorrect advice on how to taper or survive the withdrawal process. This led me to write my own book and advise others to free them selves from the tyranny of these medications.
I am a 40 year old cardiologist from the state of Texas, and I have been harmed by benzodiazepines. I was prescribed Xanax 0.5 mg three times daily as needed by my primary care physician during a health crisis in August 2015 (severe dry eye syndrome). I started out taking Xanax 0.25 mg nightly only as a sleep aid, as my eyes felt like sandpaper and were interfering with my sleep.
After only a few weeks, I began to experience severe anxiety during the day, which required more Xanax (up to 1 mg per day). I began to think that I was going crazy. I also developed a tremor and underwent an extensive neurologic evaluation, including a lumbar puncture that resulted in a severe spinal headache and an ER visit for a blood patch to stop the leaking cerebrospinal fluid. Xanax was never suggested as a cause for my tremor, although my dose relieved the symptoms of the tremor. It got to the point where I needed to dose every 6 hours as the Xanax would only last a few hours, then I would experience severe symptoms like difficulty breathing, chest tightness, and inability to swallow. I lost about 15 pounds (I am only 5’3” and got down to 115 pounds). I looked like a skeleton. I was terrified to be alone. I would wake up at night after 3 hours of sleep with my heart pounding and in a sheer panic.
After doing my own research, I discovered that I was experiencing inter-dose withdrawals and had become dependent on Xanax. I tried to taper off directly, but the symptoms were too strong. I spoke with my primary doctor and told her that I was sure I was dependent on Xanax and wanted to taper off. She told me that my problem was all anxiety as I had only been on the Xanax a few weeks, so I could safely cold turkey. She basically treated me as if I were crazy. I knew that I would be unable to cold turkey given the severity of my symptoms. She gave me a prescription for Lexapro which increased my symptoms, and I stopped it after only 3 days. She also gave me enough Xanax to complete a rapid 2-3 week taper.
Fortunately, I found the Ashton manual and Benzobuddies support group online and scheduled an appointment with the best psychiatrist in town. I brought him a copy of the Ashton manual and told him I was interested in tapering off Xanax by crossing over to Valium. Fortunately he listened to me, agreed that I was indeed dependent on the Xanax, and he agreed with my plan to taper off with Valium.
During a period of about 5-6 weeks, I crossed over to Valium while weaning off the Xanax. Once I was on a stable dose of Valium (15 mg daily), I began my taper. I have been tapering Valium since January of this year and have proven to be very sensitive to withdrawal symptoms. I am currently down to 8.5 mg daily.
I experience a host of benzo withdrawal symptoms (I had none of these prior to starting the drug), the worst of which include a pounding heart, tremor, severe nausea, low appetite, insomnia, muscle spasm, severe acid reflux, severe constipation, confusion, anxiety, and depression. I constantly live in a state of terror and “fight or flight” mode.
My life is quite frankly a living hell. There have been times after cutting my dose where I have been in so much despair from my symptoms that I have considered ending my life. My mind constantly tells me that I will never make it, and that I will never get better. The only thing that has kept me going is the fact that I have a husband and 5 year old daughter. Honestly this is probably the only reason I have not ended my life.
Just to be clear, I do not have any intention of ending my life. But I still am left with these feelings of impending death. I have persevered through much and will continue to persevere. I have learned and am still learning to deal with my symptoms. Fortunately, I made the decision to become a stay at home mom several years ago so I do not have the requirements of my work. There is no way I would be able to handle them from either a cognitive or physical standpoint. I have had to hire a nanny to help me with my daughter and household chores as I do not have the energy to get everything done, and there are days I am not safe to drive. My life is currently severely impaired. I cannot travel and I struggle to do day-to-day tasks. My entire family has been severely affected by my withdrawal syndrome.
As if benzo withdrawal were not enough, I was diagnosed with breast cancer at the end of April after having a biopsy done on a painful lump I found on self exam. I had just made a cut to my Valium dose 3 days prior to the diagnosis, and instead of going back to my current dose at the time, I stuck it out. I spent a week with little sleep, awake in my bed all night shaking with terror.
I underwent double mastectomy with tissue expander placement on 6/1/16. The surgery was successful but recovery was much harder for me due to the taper. The tissue expanders were placed under my pectoralis major muscles and I went for saline fills every 2 weeks (I required a total of 6 fills). The pectoralis muscle spasms were excruciating and were exacerbated by my Valium withdrawals.
Although I held my Valium dose constant before and after surgery, I experienced increased withdrawal symptoms about 3 weeks after surgery (I am assuming the anesthesia and other post-op meds increased the Valium levels in my system temporarily, and I went into withdrawal when the meds wore off). Again, I spent a week with little sleep, lying in bed shaking, all my muscles spasming, including my painful post-operative chest. My symptoms were so bad that I considered updosing, but after discussing with my psychiatrist, I decided to ride out the storm and was able to stabilize.
In all this time of tapering, I have never once taken an extra dose or increased my dose of Valium. I was fortunate that my lymph nodes were negative and my surgeon was able to get clean margins on the tumor. I was staged at 2A and fortunately did not require chemotherapy or radiation. I was started on the hormone blocker tamoxifen which has somewhat complicated my taper due to the removal of estrogen from my body. I spent the summer in physical therapy dealing with my chest muscle spasms, which have greatly improved, because of the skill of my therapist and my dedication and perseverance.
After about 6 weeks after my surgery, I felt ready to resume my taper. I have most recently cut down to a total of 8.5 mg per day and am holding at this dose in anticipation of another surgery to exchange my tissue expanders for implants in early November. I am of course nervous how this will affect my withdrawals. It’s interesting that cancer has been nothing compared to the horror of withdrawals, and I have heard that from several other cancer patients I have met along the way.
I am writing this letter because I would like to help stop this from happening to more patients. I am angry about what has happened to me, and to so many other people. I am a member of the web forum Benzo Buddies, and I have met so many people that were put on these drugs by their doctor without being informed of the possible consequences.
I will tell you as a physician, that we are not trained about the severity of benzodiazepine withdrawal syndrome or the differences between the half lives and potencies of the various benzodiazepines. I attended medical school at the University of Texas Southwestern in Dallas, where I graduated Alpha Omega Alpha (top 5% of my class) in 2001. I did my internal medicine training at Washington University in St. Louis. Both of these are highly respected medical institutions. I was taught that benzodiazepines are potentially “addictive”, that they are not a long-term solution, and they need to be tapered off if used for more than a few weeks. But I was never educated about things like inter-dose withdrawal, tapering methods, severity of the withdrawal syndrome, and difficulty in discontinuation of the drug. These were not drugs that I used in my everyday practice as a cardiologist, with exception of IV sedation for a procedure. I thought I was safe by taking a low dose of Xanax for just a few weeks and could come off fairly easily. I was mistaken. If this can happen to me, a physician who graduated at the top of her class, it can happen to anyone. I bristle when I hear the term addict in reference to these drugs. I am not a person with a history of substance abuse, nor do I have a tendency towards addiction. I am tired of putting these poison pills in my body. But unfortunately, I am chemically dependent, and the drug that is poisoning me must be tapered slowly to keep me from becoming extremely ill.
I propose that there needs to be better education in medical schools and among practicing physicians, especially in the fields of primary care, psychiatry, and oncology where these drug are used frequently. I also think there needs to be better regulation of the prescribing of these drugs and it should be mandatory to obtain informed consent from the patient.
I will leave you with this thought. On my pharmacy pick up window, there is a sign that reads “Must show ID for all controlled substances for pickup”. I have picked up my Valium prescriptions monthly since January and have never once been asked for ID. No ID required for a drug that sudden discontinuation can cause seizures and death. No ID required for a drug that is considered to have more severe withdrawal than from heroin. No ID for a drug that has been implicated in numerous deaths from overdose (often in combination with opiates). No ID for a drug that has caused numerous suicides from the sheer horror of the withdrawals. Things need to change. I am not the only one struggling with this horror right now, and this madness must be stopped.
Laura Christine Huff, M.D.
I wanted off but the doctor wanted me to taper 2.25 (which was at the time in January) to 1mg in one month! I refused. Tolerance continued. I was feeling toxic. so I end up on the 3 mgs around March. My doc wanted me to go to a psychriatrist. It was hard to find one. Finally, I found one but had to see a therapist first. then the doctor dismissed me. While at the theropists I was to go to a Nurse Practitioner who wanted me on Remeron. I refused. so when I finally got to see the Psychiatrist, she abruptly switched me over to 55mg of diazepam to taper. The reason is: She said, "Clonazepam is hard to come off of and can kill you".
She was angry at the doctor for putting me on such a high dose then sending me to her. Well, this doctor also prescribed 10mg of Lexapro. When I weaned down to 45mg of Diazepam, the diazepam and Lexapro combination was too much and I had suicidal idealations. I was admitted to the hospital where there they jumped me down from 45mg diazepam to 10mg and watched me. I had no seizures but my pulse was low and after being tested for heart problems, I was fine. I was eventally sent home after 6 days.
I continued to taper. when the Lexapro kicked in after 6 weeks. I did not like how I felt so I started tapering down myself. When I got to 2.5 mgs Lexapro, my PCP told me to get off and take some Benedryl because I was not feeling right. Then 2 weeks later when I had tapered to 2 mg of diazepam, the psychiatrist jumped me down to 1mg saying "It is such a low dose."
I waited for a whole month before resuming my taper after that. She wanted me off the final 1mg. but when I came to her office and she realized (finally) that I was not doing well, she let me do liquid diazepam and let me get off as slow as I needed to. I finished the taper at the end of August 2016.
This has not been an easy journey. In fact, it was the hardest thing I ever went through. I had broken sleep, surges throughout the night, fear, racing thoughts, feeling overwhelmed easily to any stress. Just thinking about something that needs to be done throws me in a tizzy. burning back ,head and arms, feeling like going crazy and gut problems and feeling not myself. At times I asked God to take me home. Here I am almost 10 months out from finishing my diazepam taper. There has been some improvement. but I am still healing. These drugs are to be prescribed no longer than 2 weeks. Here I was on it for 8 months before taper. A total of a year including taper.
Two years ago I went to a doctor due to weight gain, swelling, nerve issues in my arms and legs. A pending divorce after close to 30 years was stressful and upsetting. Lab tests showed a thyroid problem, very common for a mid 50s woman. I was given two prescriptions, one a thyroid med, and one to "calm me". I was not given any info on these meds, I trusted my doctor, I took them.
After about six weeks, I started having some strange symptoms which I told my doctor about. She upped the dosage, nothing else. My personality changed, I was agitated, hostile, irritable. I called my doctor 7 or 8 times and told her these meds were doing horrible things to me. She stopped returning my calls. I decided to wean myself off of the "calming" med, knowing it was harming me.
Ten days after lowering the dose, I was fired from my job, a first in 40 years. Ten days after that I passed out at my house, dizzy, heart racing, blood pressure and heart rate at nearly 200. Two days in the hospital, diagnosed with a heart problem, scheduled for surgery, put on a heart med and aspirin regimen. Asked if I was depressed I replied wouldn't you be, you just told me I need heart surgery? They put me on an antidepressant. I brought up the "calming med" over and over and over. I was told it could not be the cause of my problems, was not discussed further.
The totals, so far;
8 trips to the hospital
28 diagnosis; SVT, A-Fib, anxiety, bipolar, hypothyroid, hyperthyroid, hyper and hypotension, epilepsy, mini strokes, etc.
16 major tests; EEG, MRI, CT scans, Ultrasound, Brain mapping......
20+ lab tests, EKGs, Heart monitoring....
$400,000 in medical bills
Drug tested multiple times, the only positive test; benzodiazepines
I didn't even know I was taking a benzo. The first doctor kept refilling the med, I hadn't seen or spoken with her in over 5 months.
Not ONE doctor agreed this 'med' could be causing problems or discussed it with me, at all. I stopped taking it, the antidepressant, and the beta blocker, cold turkey, on my own. Oops.
I have just passed the one year anniversary of my trip to hell, my slide down the rabbit hole. Out of the 60+ listed possible "side-effects" of Benzos and Zoloft I had about 55, I lost track. Of everything. The psychosis, hallucinations, lightning bolts streaking through my heart and brain, inability to walk or speak or read, complete destruction of my central nervous system, mania, lasted for months. I hid in my house, alone, survival my only focus.
After an entire year, the walls in my house are no longer tilted and the floor isn't moving. I'm not seeing impossibly large spiders, sweating through my clothes, or having hellish night terrors. I can now sleep sometimes 5 or 6 hours a night and have hope for healing. I can feel pleasure petting my cat or watching a sunset. I have a vague recollection of happy.
My ears, vision, balance, are still off, distorted. I have cognitive issues; coming up with the right words, spelling, amnesia, reading comprehension, strange math issues. The itching is still unbearable at times, my teeth are crumbling and falling out.
I have no physical or mental illness, I have symptoms. Symptoms of poisoning.
I'm very grateful to be alive and so thankful that the symptoms are waning.
And I will NEVER stop talking about this, I can't, I won't. Because there are thousands and thousands of others.
It was about 12 years ago that I became unwell.
I had gone through a tough time and a sudden bereavement of a family member which caused me to visit my GP. I couldn't sleep and was struggling. I was prescribed diazepam and continued to take it as prescribed over a long period of time.
I didn't take a large dose and sometimes didn't take any at all.
I never realised how the drug was gradually impacting on my health.
I started to feel unwell but trusted my GPs and never thought of the drug causing the problems.
I suffered from dizziness and I would get feelings as though I was about to pass out. I had heart arrhythmia, faintness, gastric problems and low blood pressure. I felt a wreck and couldn't do anything at all.
My previous busy life was now in tatters.
Prior to this I had a career, was a walk leader and had many hobbies including painting and golf. All these had been snatched away and worse still I couldn't do things for my family; I was too ill.
It got to a point where my GP sent me for tests to rule out a brain tumor and heart problems but all were negative. Still I became more unwell with the most horrible symptoms. I tried acupuncture, homeopathy, anything to help this mystery illness.
It wasn't until I found the guidance given in the Professor Heather Ashton Manual that I realised that the drugs I was being prescribed were in fact exactly what were making me so unwell and that the drug was highly addictive.
I cried with relief when I read the manual because all the symptoms of tolerance were exactly what I was suffering. Little did I know then that this was just the beginning of my journey to hell.
I immediately started to taper off the drug by following the withdrawal guidance in the manual. I was delighted and at first didn't experience too many problems. My GPs were not familiar with the correct withdrawal procedure or the ill effects of the drug, so I reduced with the help of the manual and also the charities that I had by now found online.
When I reached almost the end of my taper the whole thing snowballed. Maybe I had needed to slow down at the end, I didn't know, and the only guide I had was the manual. Then I experienced the most horrific symptoms of panic attacks, agoraphobia and crushing rib pain.
By now I had been forced to give up my job as a medical interviewer, the drug had impacted on every area of my life.
My family were worried and I was terrified that the drug had trapped me and I really didn't know what to do.
By now my surgery had become involved and they said that they didn't have the expertise to deal with withdrawal. Desperate, I sought the help of the drug and alcohol service. They didn't seem to have any knowledge of withdrawal from prescribed drugs and I was given a withdrawal schedule that was even faster than the one I had just attempted.
Because of this I asked to see the consultant who had drawn up the schedule for advice. He met with me and told me that coming off the drugs was like a loose tooth. Saying, "you can either wiggle it for ages or extract it quickly.:
I was by now desperate and so decided to follow his advice and, despite warnings from the charity, I entered his detox unit. I just wanted to be free of the drug and so I undertook his regime of a 'slow' withdrawal of 1mg every 2 days. (In effect this detox is like a cold turkey.)
The unit was for illegal drug users and for alcoholics and I was the only person there at the time coming off a prescription drug. I went into the unit on two occasions and on the second occasion came off completely. I was given drugs to stop me from having a seizure while I was being detoxed and at the end the consultant said, "well you did really well and you didn't die, you can go home with my blessing".
By now those who had been taken off hard drugs in the unit were recovering while I was getting progressively worse every day.
How I got home I will never know, but my husband came for me and by this time I had lost memory and coordination. The pain was horrific and my ears were ringing constantly. I felt as though my ribs were being crushed and I could hardly breathe for the pain. It was just like those patients coming off heroin but unlike those my suffering didn't go away-it got worse.
The pain became progressively worse over the next weeks until it was unbearable. I was desperate and phoned the unit up many times.
No one would help, I was laughed at when I mentioned The Professor Ashton Protocol to the unit manager and the consultant refused to even speak with me. He had issued orders to my GP that I was never to be given diazepam again and I was no longer his patient.
To take the drug again was the last thing I ever wanted but by now I had been in touch with the charity, who told me I needed to go back on the drug and taper properly as the pain could get even worse and I was also at risk of a seizure.
The charity spoke with my GP who did everything to help and once again I was put back on the drug to taper for the third time.
By now I wondered if I would ever be free.
The pain had spread to my legs and feet as well as my body and I couldn't even stand up long enough to brush my teeth. My fingers bent backward and became stuck, my hair started to fall out along with my eyebrows, I lost weight and my eyes couldn't stand the light.
The rapid detox left me so ill that I was now completely house-bound helpless and bedridden for two years.
For two years I relied entirely on my husband who had to do everything for me. I also had the support of withdrawal charities who spoke with me daily, their encouragement and words ("you WILL recover") kept me going.
I realise now that the way I was taken off was far too rapid and this is why I have suffered such devastating consequences. The charities and the Ashton protocol all recommend a very slow taper.
After almost two years I finally took the last 1/4 mg of the drug.
I hated even seeing the drug and despite still being in agonising pain, I had made it off the drug at last.
It is now almost five years since that day and 7 years since the horrific detox. Over this time I can now walk again and my hair and eyebrows are back! My memory and concentration are improved along with the tinnitus, which comes and goes. However, I am still suffering from horrible nerve pain in my body. Three of my fingers are still stuck and concentration and sleep are still affected. I know I still have a long way to go.
If anyone had told me how a prescribed drug could cause this endless suffering I would never have believed it. Despite that, I am alive, hopefully recovering, and I have won the hardest longest battle I could ever have imagined.
That's when I thought...
"Could it be this Valium?"
...that's when I went online, and eventually - through Google - I found the Ashton Manual, then I found - my now dear friend - Baylissa Frederick.
I also eventually found the "Bristol & District Tranquilliser Project" too, a charity run organisation here in the U.K. who know exactly what this stuff is all about.
"Battle Against Tranquillisers - BAT" is another one.
Between them and Baylissa, they literally saved my life.
I also found, and would desperately post on "BenzoBuddies", as well (an internet-based "Benzodiazepine Withdrawal Syndrome" support forum) however, I was far too 'paranoid' to post all of the time...but every single evening I private messaged (behind the scenes) with a Moderator on there, who had since healed...and she answered every single terrifying message I sent...and with encouragement to just keep going, and that my healing would eventually come.
That to me was just invaluable back then.
I needed to 'hear' it over and over, and every five minutes...it was THAT bad.
I also found another Facebook-based "Benzodiazepine Withdrawal Syndrome" group too, within this sad, sorry, mess... and one that was run by someone, who also 'held my hand' during my darkest hours - for years - and also whilst they were (and still are) so ill with "Benzodiazepine Withdrawal Syndrome" themselves, as well.
Bless them all.
Here's some history...
In September of 2001, I attended a G.P. appointment for some minor physical ailment, and one that I can't even remember what it was now, it became that insignificant.
During that twenty minute experience, she noticed that I was looking and sounding a bit "down in the dumps" and she asked me why that was, so I just happened to mention the fact that some things were getting me down...life 'stuff', and pretty much all created around me by 'people', one of which whom was very 'close' in particular.
It was then she (the G.P.) convinced me that I was "depressed" and, because my Father had a 'history' of such, she convinced me it was "genetic", and prescribed me an SNRI antidepressant, shortly followed by benzodiazepines for my 'troubles'.
In hindsight, any well-informed Doctor would have just empathised and told me to go and sort out my 'people problems'...and then inevitably, after doing that, I have absolutely no doubt in my mind, that I would have just naturally felt better again after a few weeks or so, more...as one very most usually does.
But, oh no...not her...and this trusting innocent (namely me) stepped onto the 'Hamster's Wheel', of what was going to be the most unbelievably horrifically painful ride, that I would EVER experience in my entire life, and one I know now will NEVER ever be repeated again...and that's because it wasn't me...it was actually never me...for it was always...
...shame on them.
My N.H.S. induced poly-drugging then came along very shortly thereafter...featuring the likes of SSRI's, SNRI's, SARI's, Tricyclics, Z-drugs...but always 'starring' the Benzodiazepines.
The toxicity, tolerance withdrawal, and full-withdrawal happened in three time-stamps, but all mixed together, and every time.
It also got worse every time...and so did my ensuing iatrogenically- imposed upon me "poly-drugging", as well.
I was also "kindled" greatly...
...I eventually healed for the third and last time at the tail-end of July, going into August 2013.
After my forced cold-turkey, in hospital as a result of my attempted suicide in May 2010, my 'light bulb moment' came on about two weeks thereafter...after they had sent me home with my prescribed 'stuff', because I was "Ok"... 🙄
Previous to that time - and during - I was 'sleeping' between zero to four hours... pacing for twelve to sixteen hours... and then managing to maybe lay down for four to eight hours in the evening if I was 'lucky'.
I could never actually sit the entire time... and if I tried to, I couldn't help but to have to stand up again and pace around.
So, my daily routine, pretty much always went...
'sleep' for four hours
pace for twelve hours (akathisia)
lay down highly uncomfortably for eight hours
...it was only then I could go online etc, and pretty much 'live' within the 'Benzo Community' that I had eventually found, after my further life-shattering cold-turkey experience of May 2010.
Then, after a maximum of four hours 'sleep' (sometimes less or zero 'sleep') at about 4am, I would awake with what seemed like a 'nuclear missile' going off inside me, and continuing to 'blast' for the next twelve hours, at least...and thus the whole pacing torturous regime started... all... over... again.
And every day and night...continuously, and for over one thousand days straight.
Forty-four months straight, to be exact.
In the July of 2010, nine weeks after the cold-turkey, I was incorrectly advised to 'reinstate'*... and to taper off of what was my initial dose... and that way, I'd be able to "return to work, and be a lot more comfortable" during, as well.
I never managed to "return to work"... I never got "a lot more comfortable", either...I actually got...even more worse, than worse.
Who could imagine, huh?
(My advisor of reinstatement will remain nameless - please don't ask me who it was.)
So...*do not ever reinstate more than four weeks out... huge chances are, it simply just...won't work.
I still tapered though during, hoping it may ease up as I did...however... it didn't.
So my ensuing taper then just added an entire year to my iatrogenically imposed 'sentence' of unbelievable physical and mental torture... and one of unmeasurable, and indescribable proportions... and that is what mostly comes of reinstating more than four weeks out of a (mostly) Doctor induced cold-turkey withdrawal.
There should be NO cold-turkey withdrawals ever imposed upon unsuspecting and uninformed patients, in the first place, anyway.
There also should be, no uniformed Doctors around, either...yet...there still is, as well... and it's just...everywhere.
I became "Benzo-Free" in June of 2011.
I eventually healed in the August of 2013...and much to my amazement, I might add...for 'the drug', always 'tells us' otherwise.
My journey was actually a linear (rare) type healing in the end... prior to that though, it had plateaued a complete intense horror, and for forty-four months straight... and that was actually the third time, remember... bear in mind the previous two times I had also struggled with it all before, and those previous two times were also unbelievably horrific, as well.
But the third time was the absolute worst... and even more intense version of horrific...so horrific that any 'unaffected by this person', will never ever even remotely fathom, to imagine.
There won't be a fourth time.
I had NEVER had any issues like that before 2001, not even remotely close...and I have also NEVER had any like that after 2013 either, since.
I have a professional career... I'm now forty-eight years old... you do the math.
Here's pretty much what I had to endure the entire time.........
Fear beyond belief
Muscle tics and spasms
Doom and gloom
and the worst horror of all
Akathisia - the uncontrollable feeling of needing to constantly physically move... the need to pace for miles and miles, for hours and hours all day, every day... and also the internal and mental feeling of it too, except one can't physically move one's insides, so one tries to rip one's skin off, and/or pull one's hair out, instead
....and all consistently, throughout.
Forty-four months straight.
In 2012 I had two 'windows'... one for forty-five minutes... the other for twenty minutes...and that was it.
Forty-four months straight.
At twenty-six months off of the offending drug though...I did actually heal...over a period of roughly three weeks, it all... just...left.
And normal service was resumed.
Heaven on Earth.
"The Prize" had finally come.
I went back to work in January of 2015...the socioeconomic nightmare (amongst many other totally preventable life-based things, that had also happened, as a result of it all) had finally...ended.
On the third occasion, I was on "sick-leave" from my work-place, for just over...a monumental...five years.
So you see, if I can heal from that level of complete and utter UNNATURAL iatrogenically induced insanity...then...so can you.
Anybody can....just keep doing the right things to get there...and...you will.
So keep going... hold on... and stay strong... ✊🏻
Your "Prize" awaits you too.
My BenzoBuddies support forum username was...
"Got To Beat This"
....and I did... 😊
*caps used for emphasis purposes only*
My story began with the sudden death of my husband. We had been together for many decades and I was having a hard time dealing with life without him. I was grieving, yet, as the days and weeks passed, I found I was just beginning to believe that I would be okay after all. Then, one month after his death my mother, whom I had been caring for for many years, also had a heart attack. She survived, but that basically threw me right back to square one, as far as my ability to cope went. I began feeling panicked without warning and was often in a state of high anxiety.
I was encouraged to see my family doctor and was placed on Lorazepam. At first, I felt much better and, since I was told to take as needed, that is what I did. I started with one 1-mg pill per day with no problems. But after only perhaps two weeks of taking the pills, I noticed an increase in anxiety and found that I needed more in order to find relief. As I now look back I can see that I had become tolerant to that dose, and had also begun to experience withdrawals between doses. But at the time, I only thought that my condition was worsening, and not that the pills were to blame.
Fast-forward three months: I was about to move cross-country, and was now taking 6-8 mgs. of Lorazepam to keep the anxiety at bay. But other problems were beginning to surface; sudden spells of weakness, memory loss, strange sensations in my body, etc. When I shared these symptoms with my doctor he said nothing. I believe he knew exactly what the problem was, but he also knew I would be moving soon and I would no longer be his problem.
Shortly after completing my move, I needed to find another doctor to prescribe to me, as I was running low. In the course of a few days time, I had reduced my dose from six to eight pills a day, to three per day, in order to not run out so quickly.
The doctor I found was not happy with my taking benzodiazepines. She changed my prescription from Lorazepam to Xanax- which has a much shorter half-life. She also further reduced the dose I was on by roughly two-thirds and only gave me enough for approximately one month, at which point I was expected to stop. When I asked about possible effects from this super-fast reduction, she told me that it would be 'No worse than a few hot flashes, but nothing too bad.'
A few days later, the floodgates of hell opened wide for me, and I was sure that my life was over. There really are no words to describe what I went through over the next two months. I lost approximately 40 pounds during that time because I was too afraid to eat. I paced the floor of the deck outside for at least sixteen hours a day. Sleep would come every third day, when I would drop from exhaustion for perhaps three hours, then back up- to do it all again. There are too many symptoms to list here, but all of them were strange and disturbing, and not what you would expect from tapering off a drug. I am surprised I survived the ordeal.
I did manage to find a new doctor that prescribed Valium for me, which is longer-acting, and which allowed me to slow-taper the remainder of the benzodiazepine.
I am sad to say that the experience withdrawing from those powerful and dangerous drugs was more traumatic for me than even the death of my husband. I hope the day soon comes when doctors will stop prescribing these horrid pills.
In the summer of 2015, I had physical and mental problems. I was afraid of having a heart attack because my father died when he was very young.
Because of my anxiety, the doctor prescribed me Xanax. He told me to take it three times a day, that was in August 2015. After a few days, I couldn't sleep more than 4 hours. So I told the doctor and he prescribed me oxazepam, but that didn't work either. I was still very afraid and after three weeks they took me to a mental hospital. My frightness disappeared there but I still could not sleep and felt awful. Finally, they gave me lorazepam.
After two weeks in the mental hospital, I went home end went to my doctor and told him that I was getting dependent of the benzos. But he told me that I was sick in my head and that I had to take more medication. He also prescribed several Antidepressant pills I was always convinced that the benzos were the problem. Also, I had and still have muscle pain end twinkling muscles. I had very serious nervous feelings in my stomach. It was unbearable. I have never had such feelings before using benzos. So I took two times an overdose of pills because I didn't want to live anymore. It was a hell.
Before taking the benzo's I was working full time, met a lot of friends, go out with my husband and kids. I had a wonderful life. I always want to look nice, and I was very open and had a lot of energy.
In the hospital, they took me off lorazepam ( 5 mg a day) in one time so it was cold turkey. That went so wrong that in februari 2016 my husband brought me back home and I started on lorazepam again. After research on the internet, I found out about tapering so I did that. I switched to diazepam. I took 7 mg diazepam and on 21 September 2016, I finished the diazepam. For sleep, I took the Mirtazapine. In the beginning, I didn't sleep more than two hours a night. But after a few months, I did sleep more than 4 hours. In March 2017 I quit also the Mirtazapine and I sleep nowadays about 6 or 7 hours a night. Sometimes 8 hours. Now I don't take any medication at all. I'm almost recovered from this benzo hell.
In may 2016, while I was tapering the diazepam I started my work again. And In October 2016 I was working full time again. I am one of the lucky ones, although I still have muscle twitches and pain in my legs I can do everything again. But the sleep is not so good as it was before I used benzodiazepines.
My whole story is so sad and it's a crime because I really didn't want to live anymore. I did want to live but not with those symptoms. They were so horrible. I can't explain. Since a year a never have had those feelings again. I am so grateful. Hereby I give you the symptoms I had: I couldn't sleep, I lost a lot of weight (my weight was less than 100 pounds), restless feelings, horrible nervous feelings, anxiety for everything, I was most of the time bedridden, pain in my legs, pain in my bones, I was very depressed, serious suicidal feelings and muscle contractions, no-one believed me that the benzos were the cause.
A year of my life and from my children and husband was a year of hell. The doctors have stolen my life. Because I did meet the right people on the internet and because of my mental power I am still alive.
When I was so sick from the benzos, I told the doctors that I am not depressed. They didn't want to listen to my story. It is a shame!!
Today I'm almost recovered but I still have muscles twitches and pain in my legs. I'm happy that my sleep is almost recovered.
Beyond you will find a summary of my medication I was prescribed by the doctors:
17 Augustus 2015: 0.5 mg Alprazolam 3 x per day, 3 weeks
september 2015 2 x 10 mg oxazepam, Seroquel 0,25 mg. for sleep in a hospital. I didn't know what it was.
October 2015: Overdose.
6 November 2015: 7.5 mg lorazepam
December 2015 5 mg lorazepam
January 2016 cold turkey; after an overdose (the withdrawal was too heavy). It was a hell.
April 2016 tapering 7 mg diazepam and I took Remeron for sleep.
21 September 2016 Benzo Free
February 2017 Remeron Free!!!
I hope that this story will contribute to wake-up the world. I'm still very angry but also very happy that I'm healed for 90%. Awareness is necessary
Honestly, my first Xanax made me so grateful. It did help. But soon I began to decline and the panic was more frequent until it manifested to agoraphobia. For over 20 years I believed DR's that it was me. I never even thought it was the "medicine". I missed so many events I cant even count. Things that affected my children and break my heart. I lived in poverty on permanent disability and believed I was.
7 years ago I got off Zoloft and the disability as I gained a new fight inside of me. It took a couple more years to even consider that the Xanax needed to go as well. I was so brain washed until I read a list of interdose withdrawal symptoms and saw my life. Really? It's not me it's the Xanax that I thought I needed like a diabetic needed insulin? After all that's what the DR's all said.
I'm 6 months off Xanax now after a very slow taper and in what's known as the 6 month wave. I'm having heart issues, hormonal issues, eye issues, the agoraphobia is back, paranoia, I feel my brain throbbing, shooting pains and more. The only ppl that understand are people I'll never meet online. Words and looks from my family convey their worry that something is really wrong with me mentally, and there is, I have brain damage from benzos! But I am confident on my brains divine capabilities to heal and I believe I am closer to healing than I've ever been. I feel it's my responsibility to share this to spread awareness to the world.
May one person read this and decide not to accept that prescription. I don't know if we can crack the claws big pharma has on DR's but we don't have to if consumers are aware. If you have stress in your life like I did in my 20s, find someone to talk to, eat healthy and stay away from these drugs.