I just finished watching Lisa Ling’s report on CNN about the dangers of benzodiazepine withdrawal. I was shocked at the accuracy of the report. For years, people like me who were suffering from the severe effects of benzodiazepine withdrawal were ignored and made to feel crazy. We knew stopping the drugs was making us sick, and that the sickness was lasting much, much longer than we were told withdrawal symptoms should last. But because doctors are taught so very little in medical school about how to prescribe benzodiazepines and about the possible side effects and withdrawal symptoms, they usually dismiss patient claims that benzodiazepine withdrawal has caused long-lasting and severe harm.
In her report, Lisa Ling interviewed a woman who was harmed badly by a doctor-approved, too-short taper from Klonopin. After being reinstated on benzodiazepines with a prescription for liquid Valium, she sought help from strangers on the internet to find out how to escape the benzo trap. That may sound like a radically stupid idea, but because this woman had not received the right type of help from her doctor, she felt she had no other choice. Fortunately for her, she received some advice from people on a support forum called Benzo Buddies that actually helped her to taper safely from her medication. I had a very similar experience, and I will always be grateful for the support and knowledge I received from fellow sufferers.
Sadly, there are too many who were not able to find help before it was too late. In her report, Lisa Ling interviewed a couple who had lost their son to suicide after he experienced severe withdrawal symptoms, first from Klonopin, and later from Alprazolam. Understandably, the couple is devastated about their loss, and furious that doctors are not knowledgeable enough to prevent this sort of tragedy.
If you have not already, please check out Lisa Ling’s excellent report:
I wonder if Thoreau understood how incredibly privileged he was in his Walden shack? I think maybe he did. Even in his much quieter time, he must have known there weren’t many who enjoyed that kind of liberty and peace. He would likely have been horrified had he been suddenly dropped into our time and into our culture. If he resented the railroads of his time, what would he have thought of the roaring rivers of asphalt called freeways, never quiet day or night? If he thought the newspapers of his time full of frivolous gossip and inconsequential happenings, what would he think of CNN, Google, Facebook, and Twitter? I think he would have taken a stance that might have earned him the luddite label. And maybe he would have become a little depressed like a lot of us.
Psychic pain is nothing new, but has it ever before in history been the epidemic that it is now? I think not. And it’s no wonder. We are profoundly disconnected from each other and from the sources of our life and health. We replace genuine connection with the sedating effects of chemicals, those we can get from a bottle and those that are released in our own brains when we pacify ourselves in front of our myriad of screens. Even our beloved home, our little jewel in space, reflects our dysfunction and adds to our stress with it’s strange and frightening symptoms of planetary fever.
My mind is my escape. I often dream of a little cabin by an isolated and beautiful lake. All that would be audible there would be the rush of wind through the trees, birdsong, the buzz of insects, the lap of water at the shore. Every day I would paddle out over the mirror-like water in a little wooden canoe. I would stare down into the clear, clear water all the way to it’s brightly green, moss covered bottom. I would watch schools of fish swim underneath me. The cool air would be spiked with the spicy scent of birch, aspen, and evergreens. Sometimes the warm sun would make the water seem very inviting and I would, like an otter, slip into the cool wet and swim awhile with the fish. The cold shock would soon become a cool caress, and I would emerge dripping, enlivened, and vibrantly alert.