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I believed I would never heal...I was WRONG!


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The biggest regret of my life began when I started taking Xanax to combat a fairly mild case of insomnia. Looking back I’m appalled any doctor would prescribe something so harsh, instead of melatonin or just some camomile tea. But I followed the doctors orders and took the pills, 1mg at night for around 8 months, when the negative effects on my health became too severe to ignore.

I was having interdose withdrawals, I was nauseous all the time, my anxiety was increasing, I just knew the pills were bad for me.

I was advised to taper rather than cold turkey, however the doctors taper schedule was way too fast, around 6 weeks when it probably should have been 6 months or more. But I didn’t know then.

 

The taper was rough but when I jumped off that’s when my world completely turned upside down. I had every symptom in the book, except seizures. In the first 2 weeks I hallucinated spiders and rats in my room, I couldn’t eat, I couldn’t sleep, my heart pounded a million miles a minute, I felt breathless, my skin burned, my vision was blurry, I was so dizzy I couldn’t walk without holding on to something etc, etc, etc.

Of course then there were the mental symptoms, a dark hole of depression that felt like it was the end of the world, utter and complete despair. Then the constant, and I mean non-stop, panic, like I’d been thrown out of a plane with no parachute. And I couldn’t calm myself down, talk myself down, nothing worked.

 

It’s actually hard to remember those early days with any clarity, now it all seems like a blur, like it happened to someone else. I had severe DP/DR at the time, so nothing felt real, I didn’t feel like I was really there, as though my life was a movie, and although I could see it, I couldn’t reach out and touch it or connect with it.

The hallucinations faded pretty quickly, and the nausea eased so I could at least tolerate a few foods, but everything else just dragged on and on.

Somethings even seemed to get worse as time progressed, like fatigue.

 

At first I was sure by 4 weeks off I would be seeing improvement, but 4 weeks came and went with no change whatsoever. So I moved the goal posts a little. By 4 months I’m certain to be near the finish line, but yet again I was disappointed. Okay 6 months...No, 10 months..No, 18 months...No.

 

By second year I was really starting to lose hope. I didn’t seem to be getting better at all. I spent almost all my time laying on the couch or bed,even walking to my letter box left me shaking, dizzy and ready to collapse. Before this I was very athletic and sporty and I simply couldn’t believe how useless my body had become. I tried to eat healthy, I couldn’t take most supplements without triggering an avalanche of symptoms, but I did the best I could to get nourishment from foods.

Why was I so weak? Why was I always in pain? Was this all from benzos or did I have a mysterious illness? I did get a thorough check up, including a brain scan and tests for everything from auto immune diseases to infectious illness, and nothing abnormal was found. I read many other protracted people’s stories and related to so much of it. I thought my problems probably were from benzos, but I had no idea if and when it would end.

If I had to pin point a time when I started to turn a corner and see meaningful improvements I would say 30 months (2.5 years). I started to have windows that lasted more than a day and during that time I started to feel like my old self again. While back then the windows came to an end, my baseline was overall better and I was more functional. I was able to work part time and started going to the gym again. I couldn’t push myself too hard at first and had to slow down when waves hit, but I was never completely hopeless and bed bound for extended periods like I had been before. My mind started feeling clear and focused again and my anxiety eased (somewhat).

 

This period of healing was slow and tended to ebb and flow a bit, but I could finally see that I was actually getting better. The recovery was so gradual it was sometimes hard to detect, but when I looked back I realised, hey, I don’t have head pressure anymore, I don’t have brain zaps or dizziness or intrusive thoughts about death anymore.

The most persistent symptoms were fatigue and tinnitus. While I did still have some anxiety, it improved noticeably and since I had that pre benzos I’m not sure how much of the remaining low key anxiety was even withdrawal at all.

 

Now today, I’m 58 months off, I’ll be 5 years in 2 months time, and let me tell you I’m doing great. I’m 98% back to my old self. I occasionally have some background tinnitus, but after the hell ive lived through, if that’s all I have to deal with I’m FINE.

I’m happy, I’m hopeful, I’m healthy and I’m living my life. I have lots of energy and exercise all the time. I’m working full time. I don’t have any remaining food or supplement sensitivities. Things are back to normal.

 

I remember in the early days I felt completely dead inside, I felt like I couldn’t feel love or connection with anyone. That was absolute mental hell and made me feel like I wasn’t even human. Now I feel empathetic and warm towards others others. The difference is like day and night.

I was convinced that my case was different and that I was stuck in that torture for life. I was so wrong, and if you believe that you are wrong too. There is absolutely the possibility of a happy life ahead of you no matter how bad you feel now. Please keep hope alive.

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Congratulations Sunshine1602...I too took Xanax under the advice of a doctor for some bouts of mild to moderate insomnia...big mistake!

 

I echo what you are saying about believing you have a "unique" withdrawal that no one else had and you'll never heal as I did the exact same thing!

 

So glad to learn you are 98% back to your old self and enjoying life!  :thumbsup:

 

 

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Thank you so much for posting this and giving us all hope.  So glad you are recovered.  Sounds like you went through hell and back!
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thank you so much for these words I could relate to every one of them thank you again the time you took to write this means a lot to me
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Glad you made it out the other side. Roughly how long did it take you to fully recover. I’m feeling pretty hopeless at moment, doubting I will recover. I’m 38 months off zopiclone, had really bad mental symptoms, intrusive thoughts last couple years. No windows. Just need bit hope long term symptoms aren’t permanent.
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Thank you Sunshine1602, what a great success story!  We're grateful to you for writing your story, you know how much we all need to know recovery is possible.  :smitten:
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Glad you made it out the other side. Roughly how long did it take you to fully recover. I’m feeling pretty hopeless at moment, doubting I will recover. I’m 38 months off zopiclone, had really bad mental symptoms, intrusive thoughts last couple years. No windows. Just need bit hope long term symptoms aren’t permanent.

 

Thank you for your reply. I totally understand that feeling of hopelessness as I had it for such a long time. As I mentioned in my post I started to improve around 30 months but it was very up and down after that for at least another 18 months, maybe more. I would say it took at least 4 years, probably a little more to get to the point of stability I’m at now. Everyone is different but I don’t believe anyone is stuck the way they are feeling forever, you might be a little faster or slower than me but you’ll get there.

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Thanks ,my symptoms largely mental which seem to take lot longer to recover from. With intrusive thoughts nothing seems help or ease them. Got Covid at moment which is making depression lot worse. Good to read about people like you that took years to recover as well though,
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Sunshine1602,

 

You exemplify acceptance, patience and determination.  It was a long haul but you made it to the finish line. I'm so happy for you and I'm glad you are out there enjoying life. Our members will appreciate reading your story, it will give them hope. Thanks for this.

 

pianogirl  :smitten:

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Sunshine1602,

 

You exemplify acceptance, patience and determination.  It was a long haul but you made it to the finish line. I'm so happy for you and I'm glad you are out there enjoying life. Our members will appreciate reading your story, it will give them hope. Thanks for this.

 

pianogirl  :smitten:

 

Thank you so much pianogirl. It was an absolute joy being able to write my success story as for a long time I wasn’t sure I would even get here.

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I feel resentful and extremely happy simultaneously when I read such posts. Yes vengeance and compassion can go together!

Because I'm not there yet, but my future self has reached there.

I too started with benzos in 2017 end, the only difference you tapered it after 7 months, me after 3.5 years. I wish I would also have done it after 7 months, I wish I knew bb back then. I wish we both could have celebrated success at the same time.

But I'm very happy for you. Enjoy your reward.

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Amazing success story and a source of support when in my darkest hours

I am trying so hard to hold on and thank you so much for your endless encouragement

How wonderful that you have your life back again and wish you the happiness you so well deserve

X

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Thank you very much for your story.

 

The hardest part of this path are the doubts that it is permanent. Stories like yours help.

 

Thank you, I wish you the best  :smitten:  :smitten:

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Thank you so much for sharing. I am nearing a year off and still so sick sometimes. Stories like this give a little hope. Did you have memory issues? I used to have an amazing memory and now it's like chunks of time is missing. Makes me sad and scared. Your amazing thanks for sharing.
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Amazing success story and a source of support when in my darkest hours

I am trying so hard to hold on and thank you so much for your endless encouragement

How wonderful that you have your life back again and wish you the happiness you so well deserve

X

 

Thank you so much for your reply. I am always here for support and I truely believe I will be reading your success story one day. Never lose hope.

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Thank you so much for sharing. I am nearing a year off and still so sick sometimes. Stories like this give a little hope. Did you have memory issues? I used to have an amazing memory and now it's like chunks of time is missing. Makes me sad and scared. Your amazing thanks for sharing.

 

Thanks for your reply. I had terrible memory and cognitive issues, especially in first year. I couldn’t even read because I wouldn’t be able to remember what had just happened and I’d be too lost. It’s completely back to normal now.

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That is absolutely incredible. Thank you so much for coming back to the community and giving us hope. it's exciting to hear that people who are this far out get healed. hopefully I will be one of the late healed case very soon. much love.
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Thank you so much for sharing. I am nearing a year off and still so sick sometimes. Stories like this give a little hope. Did you have memory issues? I used to have an amazing memory and now it's like chunks of time is missing. Makes me sad and scared. Your amazing thanks for sharing.

 

Thanks for your reply. I had terrible memory and cognitive issues, especially in first year. I couldn’t even read because I wouldn’t be able to remember what had just happened and I’d be too lost. It’s completely back to normal now.

 

Thank you so much. Im so glad you are better now. This is a rough experience 💗

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This success story is so encouraging, like you I got on these drugs for mild insomnia and I had a lot of the symptoms you had. To know you are healed is encouraging and I hope the rest of the tinnitus goes away, I too have it from this and hope the same for me. Healing does take place. Thanks for taking the time to write your story.
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Sushine!

 

You know how closely I have followed you.

Same drug.

Same amount of time on.

Same rapid taper.

 

You are two years and some ahead of me but our paths became different when I was severely setback from an AB. You were one of the first people I reached out to. I think I remember you telling me that your setback lasted about 2 weeks. I'm still in it a year later and wondering if I truly will be the one who is different, who will never heal. I have a difficult time finding anyone with my metabolic/endocrine type symptoms so I feel like the outlier even here.

 

I am so glad you are healed and living your life. All of the best to you!

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