A letter of encouragement to someone going through a bad withdrawal.
It's not the cold turkey that gave you the emotional bluntness and your other symptoms. Everything is the benzo and what it did to make your brain unable to adapt to normal stress. It doesn't matter if you took a little or a lot, or tapered gradually or cold turkeyed - the brain has to learn to work again!
I know this for a fact because I went through all of it, and it was only a very tiny dose, "as needed" and yet it gave me hellish agoraphobia and everything else in the whole list of symptoms. The Xanax CAUSED the agoraphobia. I've done a cold turkey which I could not tolerate, and then did a long slow taper and now have been totally off them for about 16 mos. I often cry tears of joy, from being normal again and nothing bothering me, and feeling like I'm just me again, and am living a fabulous life again (working out, cooking for myself and others, being cheerful, loving life, planning my future, the job I'll get, how I want to live, etc.).
All you can do is withdraw slowly and go through it. You can't speed it up, and at low points, you must keep the faith. You can't see the recovery but you can believe it because others had it happen to them and I'm one of them. I'm recovered now and it is just like being the original me again, before I ever had any anxiety. I'm just older, but we work with what we are now. I am still thrilled with my life. I was a miserable, shut in wreck of a person, who didn't enjoy anything...all of last year, during and following my withdrawal from Xanax. Then, I got better, and it was like a miracle. I became able to live again, not just exist.
I felt no one liked me, I felt my life was meaningless and ruined, and I didn't know how to fix it. I was practically frozen. This was just the benzo effect, it was all my perception, and not reality, and I knew it, and I persevered and got through the best I could.
You have to be very brave, and believe all the wisdom from this forum, and other people's experiences. People will treat you badly because you are not living up to their ideal. Let them - you are working on yourself which is a great work of art. It may take a long time, but you have the time. To this day, no one believes I am better, because they just don't look at me or listen to me. They stopped long ago! They think I will always be sick, and if I'm well when they see me it's just a temporary thing. Funny I've been well for many months and no one noticed.
No one pays attention - they have preconceived ideas. You have to do it practically all by yourself (but with the help of many who went through it, in this forum!) I figure my family will notice that I am better eventually. It's funny to me, but I don't care, because I myself see the astounding progress and am thrilled by it. See your own progress and notice every step and be glad of it! And if there is a misstep, or you have some problem, remember, it's normal. The more you live through difficult times, standing in line, being uncomfortable, the sooner you will take it in stride as the brain learns to do these things again.
Sometimes I walk for hours in the huge mall just because I can. It used to throw me into panic. Or keep shopping in the huge supermarket, even if I am getting too hot, just because it NO LONGER gives me any anxiety at all. It's like being reborn, yet I'm just healed from that nasty drug.
As far as talking to people, I am again very good at all kinds of communication - from small talk, to local politics, to TV shows, to philosophy, to recipes, to child care - I can talk on anything and yet I find I have too much to say - I want to say it all and no one has time. So I write in a diary. They've got to watch their TV show, or they've got to go because they are busy. So I'm boring them. What's the answer? Find someone who does like to have a conversation. And I will.
As for those loved ones of mine who are easily bored, I just feel they are too stressed out to even talk to anyone for one minute without worrying about the next thing they've got to do. That is sad. As a benzo survivor, I savor and love every moment, and I do things with care, when I used to have to be running around feeling hyper or just sitting doing nothing, feeling depressed. There was no in between. Now I know the joy of kneading bread dough and making cinnamon buns which I had not done it almost 20 years. And they were enjoyed, but no one remarked "Gee, you wouldn't have been able to do that 2 years ago. That's amazing!" That's because they expected those things all along from me, and finally I'm delivering - yet it's a bit too late because they already wrote me off and sincerely can't see that I am better.
You will have the freedom again, once the brain is recovered from the nasty benzos which messed it up! Life is still good, just be brave during the withdrawal time, and have faith. You can try to do a little every day, and rest all you need to, and say no all you want, until you feel able. You don't owe anyone any apology for taking the time to get better.
I had that same block you mentioned. I didn't know why, but I just didn't care about opening the mail, paying bills, taking baths, washing my hair, cooking, cleaning - I would vacuum about twice a year, for example, and wash my hair every 2 weeks. I couldn't get the energy, and no one else cared or visited, so I lost interest. That is how it was, but not anymore - I feel sorry for the way I was, but I don't blame anyone. I realized no one would ever help me - I had to help myself. We are all in that same boat. I have so much more compassion now that I've been at the lowest. And I didn't keep a diary because I was so depressed. That was during and after the withdrawal. Gradually I became able to handle things again and wanted to do those things and missed them. I write about ten or twenty pages every day about every little thing I do or think. It's all because I am healed and have so much to say and no one has time to hear it all, but I know in the future I will be happy to read about this journey I had.
It will all come back to you. Just keep that hope and faith in your heart because TIME is the healer, the further you get away from the benzo.
Disclaimer: The information contained in this website was not compiled by a doctor or anyone with medical training. The advice contained herein should not be substituted for the advice of a physician who is well-informed in the subject matter discussed. Before making any decisions about your health or treatment you should always confer with your physician and it is always assumed that you will do so.
Last updated 29 July 2012