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After benzos, then what?


When we are tapering off of benzodiazepines, we never really think of “what then?” What do we expect life to be like when the last of these medications are out of our system and we are living our new reality?


I can’t tell you how many times I have read on benzodiazepine support groups or heard in conversations, “I just want to get back to normal.”


My questions to all of us are:


“What is normal?”


“Why did we go onto benzodiazepines in the first place?”


“What do we expect will have changed now that we are off of benzodiazepines?”


In the process of tapering and dealing with withdrawal and, for many, the effects of benzodiazepine-induced neurological dysfunction (BIND), we fantasize about anything being better than this reality. I, for one, can forget that I was prescribed clonazepam (Klonopin) because I was suffering from the chronic pain of fibromyalgia. Many others were prescribed a benzodiazepine for anxiety or insomnia.


Frankly, my normal was nothing I want to relive, and we often don’t think about what our new reality will be.



The Next Phase of Healing


Of course, for some, the anti-anxiety medications may have served a purpose in getting the person to a better place during a situation-specific experience. For others, therapy or other support has come during the benzodiazepine tapering and withdrawal process. The person is really better and relieved, on the other side of that process.


But I maintain that for many of us, we just want the challenges of tapering, withdrawal, and BIND to resolve, and don’t feel prepared to address the next phase of healing.


In a previous blog post, Owning Anxiety, I wrote about the unexpected irritability and sensitivity that remains after two years off of Klonopin. I was just so grateful to have survived the getting off of and through, that I never thought about, "now what?" I now recognize that I have work to do and I am doing that work now.


How to Stop Feeling Anxiety about Anxiety


Working with Easing Anxiety is another way that I am dealing with my new normal. I am exploring the meaning of anxiety and pain, learning strategies that work for others, and trying out the tools and skills to help me day-to-day. It is a work in progress, and not a walk in the park.


I have also come away with a greater appreciation for the meaning and importance of anxiety. My challenge is working on — not being anxious about — being anxious.


You don't get rid of [anxiety] by trying to get rid of it. — Tim Box, How to stop feeling anxiety about anxiety

In his YouTube video, How to stop feeling anxiety about anxiety, Tim Box reminds us that anxiety tells us when something needs our attention. It is the internal voice of concern.


I had to laugh when he said that there are two kinds of people who don’t feel anxiety: dead people and psychopaths. I was happy not to be a member of either of those two groups!

I feel great relief when I hear from him and others that anxiety is an emotion with a purpose. It is a natural and vital part of our human experience. But, it leaves me with one essential question:


How do I understand it for the important part of me that it is, and reduce its negative effects?


Tim Box was able to reduce his experience of anxiety using three strategies:

  1. Refuse to believe that you are ill. That is, decide not to feel anxious about being anxious (of course, easier said than done!).

  2. Work on understanding what anxiety is trying to tell you.

  3. Always be kind to your anxiety and anxious feelings, “If you beat yourself up, you just end up beaten.”

Again, while it is easier said than done, he suggests that we treat anxiety as a trusted friend. This is an important reframing of our experience, one that we continue to have even when the medications are well out of our system.


Easing Anxiety


Meaning making, reframing, and new strategies – this is what Easing Anxiety is all about. What D and I are working on with the Easing Anxiety community, is to answer the question, “After benzos, then what?”


Lots of questions have been posed in this blog post, please let us know if you have answers for yourselves, or other questions you'd like us to answer.


References



For Informational Purposes Only


All information presented on Easing Anxiety is for informational purposes only, and should never be considered medical or health advice. Withdrawal, tapering, or any change in dosage of benzodiazepines or any other prescription drugs should only be done under the direct supervision of a licensed physician.


This article was written by a living, breathing human.


Please read our site disclaimer for more information.






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7件のコメント


Hello D,

I really appreciate you replying to me. We did indeed correspond about five years ago, and shared, among other things, fond memories of St. Charles, IL! Before I continue, I want you to know I admire you very much. Your work in the benzo community has been diligent, compassionate, and far-reaching, and you're just simply one of the most likeable guys out there! Anything I say in opposition to your views I do so with full respect.


Thank you for changing the photograph. I believe you when you say it had a very different look and meaning prior to editing. I can see how that could happen.


I can't offer you a very specific source for people saying…


いいね!
返信先

Hi D,

Thank you for allowing my comments and for your willingness to consider criticism. Of course, you have truly helped many, many people over the years! May their feedback fuel you to continue to do what you believe in. Peace to you. -Jeff

いいね!

D E Foster
D E Foster
2023年11月21日

Hi Jeff,


Good to hear from you again. I think we started corresponding about five years ago through the podcast and I hope you are doing well. I have a few thoughts about your most recent comment and I thought I’d share them here.


I agree with about half of what you said in your comment, but not with all of it. Yes, the downregulated GABA receptors are a significant factor with withdrawal and BIND, but I don’t agree that most people report their preexisting anxiety is either gone or just a fraction of what it was once they are healed, especially if they didn’t develop any new skills to manage it. I’m curious as to your source for this.…


いいね!

Doryn Chervin
Doryn Chervin
2023年11月21日

Jeff,


I very much appreciate your comment on this post and hear your point of view.


While it would be our greatest hope that people only need support during tapering, and eventually return to homeostasis, we rarely see that outcome. People may be better than the acute and often persistent pain of benzodiazepine tapering, but few end up with no or a fraction of anxiety.


My experience is that people who come off of benzodiazepines have a host of issues to deal with and that the post-benzo experience requires that we enlist the greatest amount of support in the mental health and life-strategies arena.


In my experience, we all need tools, strategies, and support to deal with the effects of…


いいね!
返信先

Thank you for your reply, Doryn. In the interest of space and time, I'm going to write one main reply to both you and D. Please see above. Thanks. -Jeff

いいね!

During tapering, withdrawal, and BIND, the anxiety is almost invariably a chemical effect of downregulated GABA receptors. For those who were originally prescribed a benzo for anxiety, these chemical symptoms are far worse than their original symptoms. Once the receptors heal and the brain and body return to homeostasis, most peoples' "new reality" is far better than what it was before taking the drug. In fact, once healed from the chemical damage caused by the drug, most people report their preexisting anxiety is either gone or just a fraction of what it once was! And it has nothing to do with therapy, learning how to handle it, or "owning" it. Your blog reads a lot more like a mainstream m…

いいね!
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