The journey of benzo recovery for so many of us is a very long journey of ups and downs. The central nervous system is a very complex and delicate system to heal, and it does take a very long time.
For many of us, when we begin to finally heal after months and sometimes years, it's a huge temptation to jump back into our lives at a pace that our nervous system may not be able to handle as soon as we would like it to. It's a hard reality to accept for sure, and one that I came face to face with at nineteen months.
Because benzo withdrawal knocks many of us down so hard, if forces us to take full stock in what drove us to have to take a sleep/anxiety medication in the first place. First, we live in a world that never stops. We are told from very early that we have to work hard to accumulate a lot of stuff, that keeps us on the rat wheel of working long hours at jobs that many of us hate doing. This stress becomes cumulative over time, without any awareness on our part of how it's taking its toll.
For those of us who are type A's in particular, we end up with an overload to our nervous system. With all of the other added stresses that life throws in on top of a job we might hate, we end up with the perfect storm. If we don't slow down and learn to manage this, it spirals out of control. After we push hard enough for long enough, the body and the mind just can't push anymore. I believe that anxiety and insomnia are the bodies alarm system trying to tell us it's had enough.
Since we live in a society that doesn't encourage rest and time out, it has amplified the problem to a point that we are seeing cases of anxiety and insomnia in record numbers. With our current drug modeled "healthcare system", it has answered the call of our weary demands for something to help us sleep and quell the anxiety.
During this last wave at nineteen months, I had to slow way down and re-examine this behavior pattern in myself. It forced me to realize that despite all of the inner work I had done, I was still pushing the envelope to get back to my life and do way more than my body was wanting me to do still. I had to just stop and really pay attention to when I was pushing against the flow of life, when its natural rhythms were telling me to take action, or to slow down and just receive and allow things to flow in.
The other difficult challenge in recovering from these drugs is, that often it has wiped us all out financially and emotionally.
Many of us do not have the financial means or the personal support to ride it out until we have fully recovered. When the people closest to us don't understand, how can we expect for anyone else to? Just because we have had to slow down, doesn't mean that the rest of the world will in order to accommodate us. The result is added stress in our relationships, because the people close to us don't know how to respond. Many of us feel pressured to get back into things to take the pressure off the relationships in our lives.
If in fact, there are as many people suffering from health problems as a result of these drugs as suspected, then we could be in for some really difficult challenges in regards to how we educate people and help them understand the problems we are up against. I know I didn't fully understand the ramifications of what this drug was doing to me until I had some distance behind me with being off of it. I see the same denial in others who come to me for help, and then there are those who just don't even look for the help because they are unaware they need it. In many cases, they run back to the unknowing doctors prescribing the drugs in the first place, only to be given another drug or diagnosis that keeps them chasing their tale for answers. All of us in recovery know how all that plays out.
A lot of the people coming off benzos, have become so accustomed to dealing with the painful mental and physical symptoms of withdrawal, that they tend to push through even the simple things that their bodies may not yet want them to. I know I have. Partially because I have had the self imposed pressure that I need to "Cowboy Up" and get back to work. I really don't believe that there is anyone who hasn't been through this who can truly understand how truly painful it is. That equals a lot of people in my life.
When the doctors aren't even supporting us, it makes things even worse. Our whole society has given them so much power that it seems that they should know everything about these drugs they are prescribing. So, if they are telling everyone the drugs are fine, most people believe them before they do us. For the many people who have never been through the healthcare system and haven't had any health issues, it's impossible to even imagine what is going on with these drugs and our "healthcare." Not one of us had any understanding of how bad it was going to be before we "needed" to take any kind of a drug.
The truth is, no one really knows when the healing process is over. When I had been going a long all summer with just a few physical symptoms, I wasn't at all prepared for the horrible wave that hit me at nineteen months. I was afraid to say anything to my friends because they just assumed I was healed. It doesn't help that you look like the picture of health from doing nothing but taking good care of yourself. I know I started to isolate even more, because I just didn't want to try and explain what was going on to even one more person. I always hate the blank, glazed over stare I would get from most people.
I don't know how we are going to solve this problem, unless many more people come forward with their stories and continue to educate others who are seeking answers about these drugs. We must help others understand the same way we learned; from other benzo warriors that passed the truth on to us, when we set foot on this wicked journey of withdrawal and recovery.