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What is happening in your brain? by Parker


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Here's a link to Parker's 'What is happening in your brain?  What is happening in your brain


The following is a full copy of the text:


This will hopefully be an encouraging email to make you feel SAFE and ENCOURAGED.


As some of you may know, my degrees are in speech-language pathology (B.A and M.S.)

As part of my Masters study, a big portion of my classes were in neuroanatomy and physiology.

I learned firsthand how to look at a person who had just undergone a stroke or brain injury and read the symptoms, the radiology reports, the doctor's notes,  and based on those symptoms, to form an image in my mind of what was affected in the brain injury - as well as how to formulate a treatment plan to help that person rehabilitate. For a therapist in a hospital, it is much more than "speech and language". It is about reteaching how to swallow, eat,  rebuilding memory, rebuilding concentation and attention, rebuilding focus, rebuilding executive functioning skills (planning and acting on a plan) -pretty much ANYTHING that is involved in "thinking" that helps you get OUT of a coma, OUT of a hospital, and back to life, work, and school. 


I had NO idea I would ever personally undergo a brain injury.  But insomuch as I have now indeed endured one, I often laid there in waves and attempted to "analyze and decipher" what was happening in my brain as I healed. I thought you all might like to read this. It gives potential answers to all the "WHY?" questions we have about what is happening to us mentally.


First of all, a TRUTH to accept is that WE HEAL.  I have seen people emerge from comas who cannot remember who they are - HEAL.

They can't remember how to walk (we do).

They can't write their names (we can).

They cannot tell you the year or the president (I was SO bad I was unsure of this at times, but generally, I was oriented to this).

They often cannot remember family members (we can -our D/R can be hideous, but we remember them).

THEY have to work through many hours of therapy to heal. But most of them do - and from TRAUMATIC PHYSICAL brain trauma that can tear tissue and tear nerves.

We have none of that. We don't have to undergo therapy. We simply have to wait.


Most of us, me included, didn't expect the temporary "brain injury" we got when jumping off benzos.

But I am starting to realize through my own experience and my educational background, that there is a PURPOSE in every symptom we have.  I have had months and months to analyze what is likely going on in the brain at a gross level - and I want to attempt to explain certain symptoms in a way that we can visualize - so that they are less "scary" and more "telling" of the healing that is happening.


First off - let's start with GABA and Glutamate. Most of you may know how this works by this point. But for those that don't, we have a huge nervous system of millions of nerves (neurons).  They don't "touch" each other. They are separated by a tiny space in between. However, they communicate via chemicals. The 2 MAIN chemicals in the entire nervous system are the BIG GUNS.  They are GABA and Glutamate. They are BOTH at work at ALL times in the CNS.  It isn't like one is working and then the other is working. They are BOTH ALWAYS working in tandem to control every aspect of movement, sensation  - everything. They take the incoming information and appropriately pass it along - they "trim up" the information appropriately so that we can process it.  They are like the steel structure of a building.  The entire building needs a steel structure to stand. 


GABA is inihibitory.  If a nerve releases GABA - it is to Inhibit function - this could be to "slow it down" or it could be to "limit the sensory input" so that we can process it.  In the same way, GABA might be released to help "steady" your hand while doing something like painting a very detailed painting.  GABA "shores up" movements to make them more fluid.  That's just in a nutshell. Of COURSE it does a lot more than this, but the idea is that GABA is present in the ENTIRE CNS and ALWAYS working to balance every sensation, movement, etc.


Likewise, Glutamate is the balance to GABA. It is the "excitatory" transmitter. It fires to speed things up - to initiate action - to make things "go".  There's a lot more to it, but Glutamate is kinda the opposite of GABA. 


BOTH are required to work at all times.  Neurons are ALL ALWAYS firing off GABA and Glutamate on a endless cycle all throughout the nervous system. It's quite amazing really.


What does a benzo do?  If a person is anxious - they may be so stressed that they cannot overcome a very traumatic event or anxious situation.  If a doctor prescribes a benzo - the benzo comes in and sorta "holds the door open" for ALL the GABA in the system to FLOOD into the nerves - even when that is not what the nerves would actually want to occur. The immediate effect is that EVERYTHING ni the body SLOWS DOWN and is inhibited. This might be helpful during surgery, for anesthesia, for a seizure disorder.  Yes - the benzo - by definition - will act on GABA and "slow everything down".  And yes - the net effect of this is that a person may feel drowsy, calm, less anxious... everything is being inhibited.    And in general, taking a benzo for "one day"  is okay. When the benzo is gone, the body just reverts back to regular operation.

HOWEVER, if a person takes a benzo day after day,  while indeed the person feels less anxious, the body begins to realize that it cannot DO the things it needs to do in this very slowed-down neuron state. It cannot make hormones. It cannot create enzymes. It cannot digest correctly. It cannot keep a heart going efficiently. It cannot get enough oxygen- and on and on. The body NEEDS to run at "normal" speed - not this "inhibited speed" all slowed down. 

But what can the body do? It cannot "remove the benzo" from the system. The only choice the body has to maintain a regular speed is to do two things ..  It can TURN OFF it's own GABA receptors - thereby rendering those benzos unable to affect the GABA in the system. And it can grow MORE excitatory Glutamate receptors to counteract the slow-down.  And that's kinda exactly what happens....


Only - this isn't true balance either.  The body does the best it can - but over time, things begin to suffer.  The body cannot make enough serotonin in this state. Or dopamine. Some things get made in excess - and other things do not get made enough!  During this time, a person may not be aware this is all going on. He may not be able to perceive any difference. But ONE day - the person may wake up sad - or not sleeping well - or unable to remember things fully - or his vision doesn't look right....and it becomes apparent the person has "hit tolerance".  The body is taking the same amount of drug -but try as it might, it just cannot overcome what has occured. It can take weeks, months or years to hit tolerance. Some people do and some don't before trying to get off benzos.  (I did. - it took me 9 months to hit tolerance.  But it was fast.  Once I hit it, I could notsleep more than 6 hours on all that klonopin AND Ambien! I couldn't remember things last week. I was crying all the time... something was wrong.)


The process to reverse this takes a while.  GABA receptors have to UPregulate and effectively "reopen" or "grow back".  Glutamate receptors must DOWNregulate, or effectively "turn off" or "prune back".  And IN this mix, all the smaller monoamines (neurotransmitters like serotonin, dopamine, norepinephrine) must somehow find a way to synthesize in the mix.  Through weeks and months the body is rebuildling millions of neurons, and changing pathways, rebuilding GABA, downregulating Glutamate, rebuilding serotonin, rebuilding dopamine, rebuilding norepinephrine.  And ALL the enzymes and hormones that need to be made are attempting to be made while this is going on.  Basically- you have a building where the MAJOR streel structures are trying to be rebuilt at different times - ALL while people are coming and going in the building and attempting to work.


It would be like if the World Trade Center Towers hadn't completely fallen - but had crumbled inside in different places.. Imagine if you were trying to rebuild the tower - WHILE people were coming and going and trying to work in the building!  You'd have to set up a temporary elevator - but when you needed to fix part of that area, you'd have to tear down that elevator and set up a temporary elevator somewhere else. And so on. You'd have to build, work around, then tear down, then build again, then work around, then build... ALL while people are coming and going, ALL while the furniture is being replaced, ALL while the walls are getting repainted... ALL while life is going on INSIDE the building. No doubt it would be chaotic. That is EXACTLY what is happening with windows and waves.  The windows are where the body has "got it right" for a day or so - but then the building shifts and the brain works on something else - and it's chaos again while another temporary pathway is set up to reroute function until repairs are made. 

And just like the Twin Towers- it's possible - but the buiding is a major effort -and it takes a good year or more sometimes. :)

(Now look at the new Tower that stands at Ground Zero!  It's taller, stronger, and a symbol of freedom.  JUST like you will be!  :thumbsup:)


So - okay - what is happening in that chaos?  What parts of the brain are responsible for these symptoms? 


Now, I don't "know" the following based on research, because not enough research has been done yet  - but based on my studies in neuroanatomy and my own withdrawal experiences, here is how I have analyzed what is "happening" during wave symptoms. Remember, I have had to look at radiology reports of brain damage and estimate what a patient might present with - so this is very similar. Instead of a radiology report showing me what has been damaged, I'm using my own brain symptoms to surmise what is going on....


Let me first list brain structures and their functions. This will help you understand where things happen in the brain and when symptoms occur, what may be happening.



- amygdala  - This is the FEAR center in the brain. It's a tiny part in the middle of your brain. Fear is protective and it's GREAT if you need to assess something that is dangerous and to ACT  - like if a rabid dog were chasing you. - but it's hard in recoveyr when it's all you feel for months! But the FEAR is not truly in your MIND. It's in your BRAIN.  There is too much glutamate acting here in the amygdala and not enough GABA. So the nerves are firing off in the fear center when nothing scary is really there in your environment.  It is normal for that to happen given the circumstance physiologically. But it feels awful, doesn't it?  I know.  But it's just a brain structure. This can account for fear, agoraphobia, fear of water, fear of anything.  It's not that you're really "scared" of the moon - it's that you're in almost constant fear because this brain structure is healing. The glutamate is pruning back. The GABA receptors are opening back up.  It may or may not continue for awhile. It will abate. Then come back. But eventually, the brain will get it right.  :)


-Hippocampus - This is the "memory" center of the brain. It ties in old memories to emotions.  The same thing is happening here that is happening in the amygdala with GABA and Glutamate. So - voila. You get intrusive memories from ALL times in your life.  It's wild and wicked and wooly. But it can't hurt you. And if you can learn to visualize this as what is happening - then you can learn to be objective and realize it's normal.  And like the amygdala - it will come and go and frustrate you, but it will go away when the physiology is restored.


Hypothalamus This is the structure that is responsible for regulating body temperature. In early withdrawal, my body temperature would drop to 96 degrees in waves! Then 3 hours later, it would return to normal. I'd literally freeze in terror in bed for hours.  I am sure it is more complicated that JUST the hypothalamus, but I could picture this part of my brain retuning and restructuring, and it was less scary that way.


The following structures in the brain are part of the "gray matter" or the "cortex "and what we consider to be the "higher brain"- the thinking and processing parts.


Frontal Lobe This is the part of the brain behind the front of the skull. It is responsible for planning things. For making decisions. For inhibiting emotions appropriately.  It is the part of the brain you need if you want to make a sandwich and need to get out the ingredients and actually make the sandwich. I have seen people with brain injury be able to TELL you how to make a sandwich - but when they are standing there in front of all the ingredients, they cannot actually move to act to make it! They have frontal lobe damage. They can TELL someone how to make it. But they cannot themselves initiate doing it! As you can imagine, with therapy, and time to heal, this goes away. And we are a lot like this - but it goes away for us, too.  I could not organize my children't toys just 4 months ago.  Not a simple room of toys. I didn't know where to start and I literally could not mentally do it. I imagine this is partly why.  No frontal lobe GABA. :) And too much Glutamate.  But now, check out this post I"m typing.  Obviously that changed. :)

This calms down and these things come back.


Occipital Lobe This is the vision center. t's at the back of your skull.  In recovery, my nerves have been all wacked here. I see things as too bright - possible due to this lobe - and/or the actual visual nerves in the eyes.  But no doubt people "see things" that aren't there.  Vision is distorted. Things go blurry.  Colors are totally off.Brightness is off.  There are a hundred symptoms possible in vision alone!  But again - it's a matter of time.


Vestibular System This is the system of semi-circular canals in the inner ear that are responsible for making you feel balanced in space.  When this is "off" or damaged temporarily, you feel dizzy. Oh man, was I dizzy. Early off - I felt like I lived in a funhouse.  Over time, a combination of this vestibular system and my damaged visual system made things look like they were "leaning". To this day, one eye sees things "correctly" and the other eye sees things as SLIGHTLY leaning. And it's not that the eye itself is seeing them that way.  The healing vestibular system is working WITH the eye to "tell" the brain that that object looks like it is "moving left-wards" or "leaning". But it isn't.  In waves, this can happen bad - and then be GONE - poof - in a window. This is just the vestibular system healing. It's gotten WAY better.


Temporal Lobe  These lobes are on the side of your brain on each side near your ear. It makes up the whole left and ride side of your brain.  This is where auditory information is processed, including hearnig itself, but also the "Meaning" of what we are hearing, as well as part of speech and language, emotion, and buncha other stuff.  In early recovery, someone was talking to me and I couldn't tell you what they said past the first sentence.  My auditory processing was ALL messed up.  I couldn't picture what a person was saying to me in real time - and by the time I caught up to them, I was lost and they were talking about something else! Also - When I was laying there in bed, I could "hear" things that weren't there in the noise of my box fan. I'd hear the fan blowing -but I also "heard" like sickening circus music. I believe this is because there is noise coming into my ear - but my brain cannot adequately "prune" what it is hearing at differnet frequecies because there is not enough GABA to inhibit it to create something meaninful.  There was all this "noise" and my brain was just firing off glutamate.  So instead of actually "processing" the noise - it was firing off ideas about what it was hearing - and they were ALL wrong.  I would be hearing what sounded like circus music - and at the same time, my poor brain was looking through my hippocampus to find all the memories I ever had of being at the circus - and then I'm reliving those memories- and at the same time, my amygdala is getting fired upon - so I'm in fear. So I'm a quivering mess of a person laying in the bed hearing and seeing things and remembering times in my childhood and scared to pieces.  Seriously? Yes - I felt crazy. But not in my MIND.  It was my BRAIN.  It's the BRAIN.  And it's normal. The structures in the brain are "obligated" to work this way.


That brings me to my next point... WHY do all of us in benzo recovery have generally the same symptoms? Well - it may make you feel calmer to realize that our brain structures are NOT broken. They are doing EXACTLY what they are supposed to do under the circumstances.  And all of our perceptions of what we are seeing, feeling, hearing- are normal because the parts of our brains that are firing off are doing so because a) They still DO work. b) They work just as they were intended to. c) They are actually healing as all this firing is going on. 


Why the depression and anxiety? It's so complicated, but this WHOLE system is interdependent. At that SAME time as ALL this stuff is going on, the entire body is trying to heal in every place GABA and Glutamate naturally act (uh - and that would be - EVERYWHERE).

The intestines, stomach, eye balls, skin, toenails - seriously - where do we NOT have nerves? 

Anything we didn't have as a pre-existing condition is fair game for being affected by the recovery that takes place. 

This includes the body's own ability to make serotonin that is required to feel "balanced" and "happy". And you guessed it. This is not being made very efficiently in a building that is under major construction. So - you may get a day or so of feeling good - and then - boom - that's gone until you can make enough serotonin.


So on top of needing GABA to make serotonin, you need serotonin to regulate the release of GABA into the system! 

How much more interconnected can you get?  God - it's a wonder it knows how to heal at all!  But it does!  Amazing to me, really.


This is just some limited information to give an idea of what is going on in neurophysiology.  Obviously this is very cursory and not super detailed. But there is a bigger point here than "what parts of the brain are affected". 

The point REALLY is - IF  YOU KNOW that symptoms are tied to parts of a NORMAL brain under reconstruction, then you can begin to rest a little more easy in your mind that under the circumstances, the symptoms themselves are a GOOD sign. 

Without intrusive memories - as awful as they are - especially when mixed with fear - but without them, your memory itself would not heal.  It IS healing - and when you are having intrusives, try to think of it that way.  Tap your finger to your temple and say to yourself, "I know what this is. This is my hippocampus healing! Ha!" Because it IS.  And if it were NOT healing, you would not be having those symptoms.  ANY part of the brain or body that needs to heal is going to "experience" something in the form of symptoms - and you are going to notice that. But it is part of  process that is inevitably returning to the balance that it could not achieve while we were still putting those pills in our mouths.  (And if you're tapering, this is still happening - just likely with less trauma than with what happened to me when I cold-turkeyed.)


So - when you have symptoms - know that symptoms themselves are a way for you to know that healing is taking place.


And finally - realize that the DRUG is GONE.  This is withdrawal - yes - okay -we call it withdrawal -  but it's really "recovery".

The benzos are gone. The "evil drug" is no longer there.  The symptoms that are left are not the "enemy". That's our brains doing the EXACT right thing. What's happening to our brain at this point is not the "benzo beast" :) It's OUR BRAIN recovering.

Not to degrade anyone who calls it the benzo beast :) - I get that. But just so you know - you're not really fighting a beast.

You don't even need to fight it.  Just wait it out. All that reconstruction is happening on your building.

And soon - the frame will be back standing, stronger than before. The furniture will be inside. The elevators will go all the way up to the top again.  :laugh: And the people can come and go and work like a well-oiled machine. 

Don't feel you need to fight the recontruction. It's just healing. And all that is happening to us is a sign of that.


Hope this helps somebody a little - or maybe a family member. 


And if you ARE a family member, please realize that those of us in recovery are no more in control of how we feel or what we experience than people who have undergone brain trauma in a car accident. Please be patient with us, because our brains are healing and we are in the process of reconstruction - and our function is temporarily enabled, then disabled, then enabled, then disabled again.  And that is totally normal and expected.  We can no more help that than a person can "want" to wake up out of a coma. It happens when the brain is able - and not out of sheer will.  But it does happen. So please stand by us and say loving things and reassure us every day. Notice our improvements and tell us what they are.  Encourage us when we feel good.  And when we don't, just hold us and hug us and tell us it will be okay.  Anything you would say or do for a family member that had had a car accident and a brain injury - please do that for us.  And be patient... we are getting there.







I got a great PM from a buddy asking "What about the physical symptoms of pain?" - and think it deserves some theoretical attention.


I want to take some time to add some theories about PAIN and physical symptoms such as burning, akathisia, and tingling, prickling, and things that happen during recovery of this nature.


I will also add this as an addendum to the original post on page 1.


First off, let it be said that I can only "theorize" as to this, - I am not a doctor.  But I DO think logical theories are helpful because they give us a story and mindful logic to cope with in the MEANTIME as we are going through this.


So these are multiple sources of information that I'm tying together - some are from nerve regeneration, and some are from what we know about "how the brain works".  And some or ALL of this is likely going on when it comes to pain and skin/muscle sensations:


First off - I think a good quote comes from a Plastic Surgery practice that has published things on "nerve regeneration after injury". 


The quote follows:


"The usual events associated with normal nerve regeneration can be painful. As the regenerating ends of the nerve, called sprouts, travel, they make contact with each other and with structural proteins. The neural impulses generated by this activity may be interpreted by your brain as pain. It should be expected that for the time period associated with nerve regeneration there may be pain sufficient to need therapy and/or pain medication. Just understanding that this is expected to occur, and is "good pain'; or pain for a good reason, is enough to help many people adjust to its presence.  This condition is not just one of pain, but is associated with over activity of the sympathetic nervous system, so that the area of pain is a different color, like pink or purple, and is usually a different temperature, like cooler, than the surrounding non-painful skin."  http://www.riversongplasticsurgery.com/pdfs/nerve_injury_nerve_reconstruction_recovery.pdf


Well- this article isn't talking about "benzo - related nerve damage. It's talking about nerve damage caused by physical trauma of crushing, cutting, or compressing nerves. But what can we glean from it nonetheless?


We can assume that if the sympathetic nervous system is involved in the presence of pain related to healing nerves - AND IT IS- that it is also NORMAL for us to have pain as we are undergoing healing.


When I was in earliest recovery, I would often get out of the shower and have pink spots all over my feet and my abdomen. At first they were bright pink for about 2 months - and then they faded out and I don't have them anymore.  I have no idea what they were - but they were NOT there 12 days prior to my rapid taper - and then they showed up.  The spots weren't symmetrical - they followed no pattern, but they were alway in the same place on my skin.  And only after getting out of the shower.  It is easy to see how the nervous system could be involved in skin redness, irritation, and weird feelings associated with recovery.


Likewise, throughout recovery, I've had and continue to have cooling, burning, prickling and occasional stabbing sensations. I've had it feel like my skin was "wet" when there was no water on it.  Again, though. This is all normal - and like the quote says above.."Just understanding that this is expected to occur, and is "good pain'; or pain for a good reason, is enough to help many people adjust to its presence."  It doesn't make the pain FEEL any better in the moment, but it does help us not to become anxious about it. It's normal.  And it's a sign of healing.


What about akathisia?

Well  - from the reading, the exact cause of akathisia is not 100% conclusive, but it seems to be related to dopaminergic and/or noradrenergic activity in the brain  (dopamine and norepinephrine or noradrenaline as it is also called). These are just neurotransmitters - and it doesn't look (to me) to be exactly conclusive WHY this happens - but akathisia can happen after the use of many psychoactive drugs- not just benzos - and likely because anything that alters brain chemistry can alter dopemine and norepinephrine. So - okay. That makes sense.  We all took "brain altering" drugs - and now some of us have akathisia.  Guess what?  It seems pretty normal!  It's not fun. But it's normal.  And it can come and go and then go away eventually.  For me, I didn't get akathisia at all until month 8. It was a surprise.  It was intense and awful. But it passed in a few weeks. Since then, I have had it off and on - but not to that degree.  And now - it's mostly just annoying.  Something as simple as a good hard cry in the bathtub can COMPLETELY remove it at times.  And other times, I just have to wait for a wave to pass. But all in all, from all this information - it's normal. And the fact that it's coming and going and I'm getting hit here and there - it's a sign that the wheels are turning up there in the noggin - and things are shifting and attempting to rebalance.  So if we can keep that quote in mind - it's normal - and while the sensation itself is very uncomfortable - if not painful - it can be regarded as a "good pain" if we are able to recognize that our feeling it means we have a brain and nerves that are regaining their abilities to function.


Likewise, as a scab heals over a wound, the new skin formin underneath can become "itchy". Why does this occur? Why does a scab itch?


"The itch of a healing wound is caused by the growth of new cells underneath the old scab. New skin cells would be growing underneath, and as they form a new layer of skin, then the scab becomes more tightly stretched over this zone of activity. This can make it feel itchy. The itch sensation for burn survivors may be a tingling feeling caused by nerves re-growing, or from dry skin caused by the lack of natural oil production since oil glands may have been damaged or destroyed by the burn. As the nerves grow and start to receive and send messages, they may create that itchy feeling. The skin in this area will be a lot less thick than everywhere else, so these new nerve cells will be under a lot more pressure. Itching is a sign of healing." (Mayo Clinic)


As we can surmise, the umpteen bajillion sensation we have going on are not 100% conclusive in their origins....HOWEVER...

There IS a trend.


From what it seems like from all the reading...


But it's NOT further hurt or damage. It's the REVERSAL of damage. 


Um  - yeah - okay. Great - but what do I DO about it.


Pretty much the things that I have discovered that help through this healing are to "CONFUSE" the nerves as much as possible, IF possible. 

What? Confuse the nerves?


You know how you get a cut or an insect bite and you immediately press on it to make it feel less painful? What you are doing when you press or squeeze the area is "desensitizing' the entire skin region of the cut by applying pressure to ALL the nerves in the area. That way, the ONE sensation of pain from the cut isn't the only thing your brain is feeling.  The pressure from pushing down on  ALL the nerves in the area helps to send multiple sensation to the brain to "counteract" the pain sensation.  And it works.

Similarly, other things can help "confuse" nerves:



-Deep Pressure

- Massage

-creams like "Icy Hot" with menthol


All of these things have helped me cope in recovery.


Let me take it one by one:


Heat: I took and STILL take hot baths almost every day. In the peak of akathisia, I lived in the tub. :)  As hot as I could stand it really helped me. All the heat was "overregistering" in my brain and I was unable to feel the akathisia as much when in the tub. It was confusing the nerve signal and it was temporary relief.  I hated those days. But I got through them.  Likewise, a heating pad for pain was my friend a lot of the time. 


-Cold -  I used a cold washcloth on burning skin - and on my face and hands - and kept dipping it in ice water and applying it.  This is an easy one, but it helped. I had a wave with 3 days of "fireface" last month and all I could do was apply the washcloth, lay there and think about how "this is healing" and keep going. But the wave passed.


Deep Pressure  I use a 15 pound weighted blanket to sleep. I have for YEARS. I ordered it online. It has many pockets with little plastic balls equally distributed to create a very heavy blanket that creates "deep pressure". This kind of pressure is calming for anyone's nervous system. Occupational Therapists use it for children with autism, but people with anxiety can benefit from sleeping with one. And in recovery, I was glad to have it.  I used it often together with a heating pad.  It took the edge off just long enough. 


Massage This one CAN be helpful - but sometimes not.  I used to ask my husband just to "press down" on my head or my legs.  Just press there. Don't rub.  My skin hurt too much to rub, but the deep pressure from pressing was helpful. Other times, the actual massage was a help for sore muscles.  I was too agoraphobic to schedule a REAL massage. LOL. But just this help from my family was nice to have.


Creams You're going to laugh, but there was a day that I put Vick's VapoRub on my face because my face was so HOT!  I figured if this is safe for my baby's skin, it's probably okay to try it on my face.  It worked! Oh man - my face felt SO good all day.  I used that for a few days until the wave passed.  I have also tried "Icy Hot" on my back when it was sore.  Things like this work on the same principal to "confuse the nerves".  If your nerves are too busy feeling the heat/cool of menthol, they cannot simultaneously feel "pain". So for a short time, the pain is not "felt" even though the "soreness" is technically still there.


All of these are ways I have coped.  I'm sure there are others you guys have used!! :)


The broad idea here is that

1) Healing is happening.

2) The sensations that feel like injury are NOT injury. They are the CORRECTION of nerve injury.  They just "fire off" as they heal.

3) We can use some things to cope.

4) It's going away in time.


I know this is not a "fix" to the feelings.  There is nothing anyone could say to me while I was IN pain that made the PAIN better.  All I could do was cope and cry and try to get through it.  But knowing it's normal and that I'm not getting worse; I'm getting better - is always something I benefit from knowing. 


I still get these symptoms - and I'll be SOOOOOO glad when they are gone.


Thanks to the Benzo Buddy that brought this up.  ;)



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  • 3 weeks later...

I agree so much Red Sky. This was so well thought out. it made it easier for me to understand that through this I have to LISTEN to my body. I tells you what is going on , we just have to listen.


One question, Parker, I was taking 300 mg Wellbutrin and 80mg Prozac, have for 30 years . I was able to sleep throughout this ordeal.


Still got most of the other sympotms and MES-Musical Ear. I  wonder if  antidepressants may have off-set Gaba!, Ya think?


Parker your the one to give me an answer.


.............and thank you for helping me to feel a little better, now I know My Brain is a constuction site!


May Trix



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  • 3 weeks later...

Hello Parker,


Thanks so much for your post, very informative and encouraging. I wonder if fibromyalgia could be a symptom of being off benzos for 5 months. 


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I take Ashwagandha, and a supplement called CALM during recovery period.  The ingredients of CALM are:


Magnesium (as Magnesium Oxide) 100 mg 26%

Vitamin B-5 (as Calcium Pantothenate) 50 mg 500%

Vitamin B-3 (as Niacinamide) 40 mg 200%

Vitamin B-6 (as Pyridoxine HCL) 10 mg 2,000%

Folic Acid 100 mcg 50%

Vitamin B-12 (as Methylcobalamin) 100 mcg 1,666%

GABA (gamma aminobutyric acid) 200 mg *

L-Glutamine 200 mg *

L-Theanine 200 mg *

L-Taurine 200 mg *

Passionflower (aerial parts: 6:1 concentrate) 200 mg


Can anyone tell if it is ok to take CALM during recovery, esp as it contains 200 mg GABA.  I take 1 or maximum 2 in a day.

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  • 2 weeks later...
Supplemental GABA cannot cross the blood brain barrier. A lot of people say no to it but there are a lot of us who take CALM- and I am one of them. It seems to really help with muscular symptoms for me, as well as anxiety. If it helps you, it should be safe, although no one can recommend anything or give direct advice on BB. But a lot of us have taken it with great results.
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Thanks a lot for your response Kittybeanbag. CALM and Ashwgandha helped me a great deal when I had a lot of anxiety at 2 months off.  I took them for a month just to be on the safe side. 


From what I have read Supplemental GABA cannot cross the blood brain barrier generally but it can cross for those who have leaky blood brain barrier; and if the GABA supplement helps us it might be that we have it leaky and it crosses over (to our benefit).

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  • 3 months later...
Thank you for this. I needed to read it. I'm on day 24 benzo-free and suffering a lot. I'm having a few better hours at the moment, so reminding myself that these symptoms are ones of HEALING and not HARM is important for me to do.
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Thank you so much for all the detail and time you took to share this. I'm 30 days out from my last Xanax dose and had a "wave" of symptoms surface over the past 3 days.  It was either from anxiety from returning my computer to the job I just quit (I worked from home) or from the Hyoscyamine pill I took to calm my belly down before we went in. (I'm SUPER sensitive to meds.) Hoping they end soon! Having your article and an analytical approach to brain healing is reassuring and calming.
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Dear Parker,

Your post of here is what is happening in your brain was extrememly helpful and I wish I had read 5 months ago!!! I found it very accuratelydescribes the memory reruns, the uncontrolable fear and rollercoaster of emotions. My speech has been effected so I assume that is in there somewhere .

Thank you so much as I shared it with my husband who has been threatening a seperation because he thought I was going insane....😭😭😭, he just thought what he read anout withdrawls being 2 weeks or so was it. 


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Dear Challis,

Thank you for this very detailed explaination of my brain activities.

I have been off since 12/10/17. I had to rush off due to severe Tolerance

Dependency withdrawl symtoms so severe I could not survive. My doc did not mention taper.

So It was real rough about 1-2 months, then better with alot of waves and waves in one day.

Then it got better last 2-3 weeks sleeping almost 4-8 hours.


Now last days sleepless again so Im scared. I do not want to go on sleep meds....

Is this part if the phases???



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Challis99, just wanted to say thank you so much for this post! Very reassuring -- the ol' tractor is just in the shop :thumbsup:


A couple of questions if you have the time.


I'm suffering horrendous head and body tension, like someone is stepping on my head, was wondering if you could perhaps explain why this is? And what your thoughts are on taking antidepressants during recovery namely the one i've been prescribed, sandomigran (Pizotifen) which acts on serotonin levels to help with migraines. Do you think it would it be more trouble than it's worth to be messing with the brains workers?


Once again, thank you  :D  :)

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Hi Pantheist181,

As a long time migraine sufferer, I feel your pain. hough not an antidepressant, I used Imitrex injections since it came on the scene in the '90s. (My head pain didn't increase or decrease with klonopin). I did decide about a year ago (I'm Klonopin free for 61 months now), to quit taking the injections for migraine and just rough it. Oddly, my migraines are less severe than ever, and I've had them for over 50 years. It's part of my life. I have reverted back to inhaling apple cider vinegar steam and it curtails the migraine a lot. All of this is a long way of saying if you can be drug free while healing, do it. Try home remedies, homeopathic ones, but try to stay off any drug that plays with your brain while it's trying to get back on course.


Good luck to you==hang in there, it does get better.

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Challis99, thank you for your reply -- just saw it now. I ended up taking a low dose of amitriptyline (20mg) only been three weeks but ive noticed a significant drop in my head tension. It's an old skool tricyclic. No nasty side effects so far. But im not going higher than 20mg as I agree best to let the brain do its thang.


Peace and love  :thumbsup:

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Wow, thank you for this posting. It is the most beautifully written empathic piece of writing linking in to what I/we experience.


very helpful,


Thank you!

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Amazing, life-changing information. 


This!:  "Once I hit it, I could notsleep more than 6 hours on all that klonopin AND Ambien! I couldn't remember things last week. I was crying all the time... something was wrong."


Thank you so much!

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I am new to Benzobuddies, but have had a long history with Benzos.  After 4 years of Xanax, I hit the wall before realizing how bad they are for you.  I withdrew over a 1 month period over 1-1/2 years ago, but I have not yet recovered. I have gone through windows and waves, but the current wave has lasted 2 months and I am getting worse.  I am in the bed 24/7 and have not left the house in months. Can anyone help me?
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I am new to Benzobuddies, but have had a long history with Benzos.  After 4 years of Xanax, I hit the wall before realizing how bad they are for you.  I withdrew over a 1 month period over 1-1/2 years ago, but I have not yet recovered. I have gone through windows and waves, but the current wave has lasted 2 months and I am getting worse.  I am in the bed 24/7 and have not left the house in months. Can anyone help me?


Hi Anna,

I'm so sorry to hear that things are so rough for you at the moment, and for so long

You might get more response by posting on a different thread.  Or on several threads like the withdrawal support or the protracted withdrawal support.

Wishing you ease in the next while



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The part about pain really resonates me. I started supplementation that is target my brain. While my anxiety has decreased, physical pains have surfaced in my brain. I can't distinguish whether this is a sign of damage or a good indication that those areas are waking back up. Is there any thoughts to distinguish the two? Do you have any opinion on introducing supplements while off and which to definitely avoid? I am not sure what to do any more.
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  • 2 months later...

Parker, I just re-read this after 6 years. It STILL helps me. I have referred many people to this article. Learning even just a tiny bity about what  causes WD symptoms is valuable..

Thank you again.


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Thank you so much for this article!  It really should be mandatory reading!  It will be awesome to refer back to so I can remind myself I am truly healing and this won't last forever.
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Amazing post. Thanks for affirming the process is a positive one.  Takes the scare out of scary.  One of the 'tricks' I use when things get rough is to tell myself that whatever creepy thing is happening, no matter how bad, is a healingresponse.  I welcome it (sometimes) because I believe they are a good sign, especially since tapered down by 90% now.  You are awesome.  And it gives me hope I will someday find my car keys, glasses and checkbook : )  Just kidding.  Only the checkbook is missing  :smitten:
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Thank you very much for everything I am in the Mestres of benzodiazepine free and I am still suffering from several symptoms that you name like the pressure in the head the tasting and the irritable colon realization and I have caught the flu and I have lowered a lot I am wishing it go away the virus and I realize what it says is that I have to take it with more philosophy and not close myself to the process because in that way I'm sure I can help serotonin to be produced in greater quantity
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