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Firefly265 - 10 Year Anniversary Update


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Hello BenzoBuddies. It has been close to 8 years since I last posted my last success story called "No longer living in K-Hell...24 months off as of today".  I was sitting here this morning with my cup of coffee and my birthday is right around the corner and I realized that it has been 10 years since I began this journey on regaining my life back from benzo's. As I was sitting here reflecting on my journey, I decided to hop on here just to go back and reflect on the posts I had shared and the experience I went through and I was BLOWN AWAY at the responses and messages I have received over the years. As I sat here reading those response and reading the personal messages, I fought back the tears as I know all to well the pain and suffering each of you are going through.

 

I never thought that my experience and story would be such an inspiration to so many. I was overwhelmed with the personal messages and decided to post this update to address all of the questions and kind words that so many of you have sent over the years.

 

It is important for anyone reading this post, to first go back and read about my experiences, especially the post above, to get an understanding of just how much I lost and how difficult the journey was back to just 24 months benzo free and to the present.

 

This post is going to pick up where I left off on last post above which was at the 24 month mark.

 

April 2013.

 

My journey over the course of the last 8 years since that post has been the most rewarding and 2nd most challenging time of my life. (The most challenging was the first couple of years coming off Klonopin). My last post stated that I was around 95% healed physically and 85% mentally healed.  As of today, I would say that I am 99% healed physically and 95% mentally healed.

 

My physically symptoms from the withdrawal of Klonopin have all but subsided with the exception of the tinnitus and the sensitivity to light that I had. As far as the tinnitus goes, I am not sure why it stuck with me as a physical symptom as I never had it before starting benzo's. In all of my research over the years on tinnitus and going to an ear specialist, they are not even sure what causes tinnitus. They have educated guesses but what most of the educated guesses agree on is that is an issues with your brain perceiving the incorrect information rather than a issue with your ear. My doctor said he believed it was an issue in the brain because some cases of tinnitus are so severe that he has cut the nerve to the ear drum and the tinnitus is still present for the patient indicating that the issues lies in the brain and not the ear drum. For those of you asking did the tinnitus ever go away, the answer is obviously no and I doubt it ever will at this point.  All of my research on benzo's over the years revealed that the pharmaceutical industry and doctors are not even sure how benzo's actually work. Again, they have educated guess on what is happening but nothing concrete. My guess is that with the high dosage that I was on and the uneducated and rapid way I stopped Klonopin is the reason for my tinnitus issue.

 

My sensitivity to light I believe is more a of mental issue than a physical issue. I have vivid memories during the withdrawal phase of vivid bright lights, especially in open spaces like a Walmart or Home Depot and grocery stores were the worst. I believe it was because most grocery stores have white ceilings, white floors just very bright. For some reason, I believe my brain has associated bright lights in these places as a fight or flight scenario. To this day, (not every time but often) I walk into a store with bright lights and I become very anxious and I have to take a moment to run through my exercises of breathing and grounding myself.

 

Some of you asked about my nerve pain and if it ever went away. I can happily say it took sometime for that to completely subside but it is gone. It has been a difficult journey with some of these symptoms due to the fact that as you age, its normal for you to have aches, pains, muscle weakness, joint pain, etc. While I have some joint pain, muscle pain and the occasional weird nerve pain, I do not believe it is associated with the benzo withdrawal, I believe it is because of aging. My 44th birthday is in a week so the mid 40's life crisis is my next journey!

 

Beyond the above couple of physical symptoms, I can say that I am physically fine and symptom free now for 6 years.

 

Onto the mental side of the journey.

 

My last post, I said I was at 85% but looking back I think I was being generous on that percentage. There was such a major leap during that period of time that it felt that I was much further along mentally that I actually was.  The dedication, drive and determination it takes to mentally overcome the challenges of the last 14 years has taken a drive, dedication and determination that far exceeded what I thought it would actually take, especially the last few years. I know that may sound backwards given the mental challenges required to get through the withdrawal period but here is what I have learned.

 

I am former military and a former firefighter and through all the years I spent in both of those careers, I had learned how to compartmentalize the emotional trauma that both of those professions have attached to them. While I had been through plenty of difficult scenarios in both professions, my brain had never suffered a traumatic experience that it could not cope with until my near death experience that lead me down this path and on this journey. Up until that point in my life, traumatic experiences had always been a linear process of healing like a broken bone. I would witness lives lost, or deal with the pain and suffering of a parent losing a child or the difficulties of not being able to save a life in the field. I would process those emotions and heal over a certain period of time and move on. What I have learned about this traumatic experience and what I have come to accept is that this trauma to my brain was different. The near death experience, the trauma of being on benzo's, the trauma of the withdrawal and the journey back,has created an experience that I have not been able to process and compartmentalize.

 

When I say that I am 95% healed, what that means is that for the last several years, I thought my trauma and experience was something that I could deal with, process, compartmentalize and move on from as I have with the 100's of other experiences I had with emotional trauma in the past from the military and fire service. I have come to terms with the fact that I do not believe that I will ever fully be able to move past the trauma of this experience.  When first processing the fact that I may never move on (about 3 years ago), it created some anxiety in itself. In trying to process this anxiety, I opened up to my grandfather about my trauma and PTSD to get his insight on the matter. My grandfather (who is 96 and still kicking) was in World War II. He was at Iwo Jima and Okinawa. Needless to say, he dealt with some very difficult and traumatic experiences. What I learned from him was that those experience and the trauma that he suffered was something that he has dealt with is entire life. While he is starting to have some cognitive issues and dementia, the one thing that he can recall down to the date, time and where he was, is the war. He said that for the longest time he fought trying to get rid of the memories and to move past the experience and he finally realized that the trauma was to much to process and move past and the best thing to do was to not only accept it but to embrace it. He said there was not a day in his life where the war and the trauma he experienced was not present. But through accepting that this was going to be a lifelong journey and not something that he could not fix, the door opened to learning how to live with and manage the trauma.

 

The last 3 years have been difficult mentally since processing what my grandfather told me. My personality is rooted in being able to fix problems. From the military, to the fire department to this journey, I have always been able to find a way to solve a problem and coping with the fact that this problem is one that I will not be able to solve and move past has been difficult. I believe that I have made some progress on this front over the last year. My journey is leading me down the path of acceptance that this will be a life long journey with my experience being apart of everyday life and hopefully learning how to get to the place that my grandfather has lived in for the last 72 years.

 

Now for some of the good stuff!

 

If you read my posts from several years ago, you would know that I lost everything. Career, wife, kids, my business, most of my relationships and it was the most devastating and embarrassing time of my life.

 

I am happy to say that through drive, determination, dedication and an unwavering passion to regain my life, my wife and I have been back together since 2015. I was able to watch my kids grow up and be there for them. I just sent my son off to college this past year and my daughter is on her way next year.

 

I was able to not only start my former business up but start two more businesses that are thriving each day.

 

I was able to get myself in good enough physical condition to pass the physically agility test to get hired at a fire department but ultimately declined to take the job. I did not go back to my former career for several reasons. I took the test and got offered the job because I wanted to prove to myself that I could do it. Ultimately though, that job requires individuals to save lives and while physically I am back to my former self, I did not feel mentally that I was a 100%. You all deserve a firefighter who's faculties would not impede them from saving your life or the ones you love. I was not sure if that ability existed anymore and the only way to have found that at would have been at the expense of a life which all of you deserve more. So, my time as a firefighter is over. It is a bitter sweet ending to a career that I could have never imagined leaving until I could not physically do it anymore.

 

The underlying cause of my panic attacks was laid out in my former post but I am happy to say that while I deal with anxiety, it has been close to 2 years since I had a major panic attack. The process of communication, therapy, acceptance, embracement, routine and commitment have played a major role in battling this crippling disorder.  I am quite certain that at some point in my life I will experience a panic attack. That thought just a few years ago was crippling but now through acceptance and embracement, I am not fearful but prepared and in a position to manage the attack.

 

Moving on from my experience to the 1000's of benzobuddies on this site, my heart breaks for each of you battling this excruciating journey. I am still in shock at the amount of times my post has been read and the numerous messages that I have received.  While I had many different questions sent to me, the one that prevailed the most was how did I do it? What was the breakthrough? You must be stronger than me because I still have one foot in the grave after 2 years.

 

Ladies and gentleman, there was no magic breakthrough. There was no special formula to my success story. I am not stronger than any of you. I am not special. I know that is not the answer many of you want to hear. What I can offer is some insight to what helped me in my journey.  One of the overwhelming side effects that this line of drugs creates is fear. I was so fearful of anyone finding out that I had these issues. My wife, my kids, the fire department, my employees, my clients, my family. The fear of embarrassment, the fear of judgement, the fear of loss cripples you. This fear is actually what lead me to benzobuddies in the first place. I was trying to figure out what was wrong in private. What I learned from being on this site has been invaluable. This site and you guys helped to realize that the fear you are feeling is self inflicted. There is nothing to be fearful of or embarrassed about. The encouragement and support received from this site saved my life. The courage and strength it takes to share your stories and pain to complete strangers is heroic. The weight that was lifted off of me each time I posted a post and read the messages or read a post and posted a message was the healing and support that I needed. Through your support and this site, I was able to move past the fear and embarrassment and open up to my wife, my kids, my friends and everyone around me about what I had been through and what I was going through. To my surprise, they all knew there was a major problem. I was not hiding it nearly as well as what I thought. My true healing began when I moved past the fear and embarrassment of what I was going through and shared it with every important person in my life. The weight of that alone was life changing. The knowledge that I had taken control of the decision making process and not allowing the fear to dictate the situation was life changing. Having a team of people who knew what I was going through and they were there when I needed them for support was life changing.

 

THE FEAR IS SELF INFLICTED. THE EMBARSSMENT IS SELF INFLICTED. THE JUDGEMENT IS SELF INFLICTED.

 

While this site and you all saved my life, you have to take what you have here into your lives outside of benzobuddies. I lived my life through this site for three years thinking that I would be able to do all of the healing necessary with you all. The Matrix is on of my favorite movies. I find it has stark comparisons to this journey I have been on. I look at this site as the the red and blue pill. I could take the blue pill and remain here in benzobuddy land where it is safe and free from fear and embarrassment or I could take the red pill which would reveal an unpleasant, life changing truth.

 

I would encourage all of you to work towards taking the red pill. Take back control of your decision making process. Face the fear of the unknown. Face the fear of embarrassment. Do this by revealing to the world that you are scared, you are hurting and you need help. Yes, the rabbit hole is deep. You will face a world that is unrecognizable filled with challenges that are beyond what most human beings can comprehend. But we are not normal human beings. There is a strength within each one of us that is only built through the experience of benzo's and the journey back.

 

I will leave you with a couple of my favorite quotes from movies changed up a bit.

 

Good morning. We are here joined by others from around the world. We have launched the largest mental battle in the history of mankind. "Mankind." That word should have new meaning for all of us here today. We can't be consumed by our petty differences anymore. We will be united in our common interests. Perhaps it's fate that brought you here today. You will be fighting for your freedom... Not from tyranny, oppression, or persecution... but from fear. We are fighting for our right to live free once again.  And should we win the day, we will declare in one voice: "We will not go quietly into the night!" We will not vanish without a fight! We're going to live on! We're going to survive! Today we celebrate our Independence day!

 

When you all take this fight to the real world, remember what Viper said to Maverick "You will pick up your RIO when you get to the ship, and if you don't, give me a call. I'll fly with you"

 

Yeah, guys, I know a bit corny but I figured everyone needed a good laugh at the end.

 

With love,

 

Firefly

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Thank you so much for sharing your update Firefly. Your honesty is refreshing. Glad to hear that life is much better now and hope that the future gets even brighter. I think we will all carry scars from this, and you are certainly carrying them with honor.
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Thanks firefly!! This update really encourages me to get out there and do it even if fear is trying to raise its ugly head. :thumbsup: :thumbsup:

 

Be Blessed

 

PG

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[02...]
Neuromod has developed novel treatment for tinnitus via device called Lenire. It's currently available in Europe, and, pending FDA approval in the USA. I've had worse symptoms, but tinnitus is why I wish I had tapered. It has me very worried, especially since it's coupled with hyperacusis and inner ear pressure.
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  • 2 weeks later...
It is so depressing to read that you still have tinnitus 10 years later.  Mine has been with me since day one and has been my worst withdrawal symptom because it has always been constant and has no signs of ever leaving.  I have lost hope now.
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Firefly thank you for coming back with an update. You did it!

I won't lose hope, as there has to be a good ending to this benzo story I am writing.

You have shown us how your journey has been. Thank you for sharing.

NG

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