BENZO STORY: Beatrice from Zurich, Switzerland
Updated: Mar 23
A 40-year-long benzo story of a mother of two in Switzerland who battled her dependence on benzos (Valium, Clorazepate, Librium, Xanax) for years and is now 17 months benzo-free.
Key Topics: Anxiety, Benzos, Dependence, Withdrawal, Doctors, Polydrug, Valium (diazepam), Librium (chlordiazepoxide), Tranxene (clorazepate), Xanax (alprazolam), Symptoms, Antidepressant, Detox, Clinic, Finding Support, Job Loss, Success, Healing
Listen on the Podcast: https://www.easinganxiety.com/post/benzo-belly-our-gut-in-withdrawal-bfp011
Stories presented on Easing Anxiety may contain triggering content for certain segments of the population. If this is a concern for you, please refrain from reading any further. These stories are provided for informational purposes only and should never be considered medical advice. Opinions stated are those of the author only. See our disclaimer at the bottom of this post for more information.
I am a 60-year-old woman, former teacher, nurse, religion teacher, living with my husband near Zürich, Switzerland. Our two children are adults. (the daughter is an anesthetist, and the son a mechanical engineer).
At the age of 16, I got for the first time in contact with a benzo: the doctor of my parents gave me a chlordiazepoxide (Librax, Librium) for my intestinal problems. I took them over the following eight years once, twice a year, one pill. This was no problem.
At the age of 16…the doctor of my parents gave me chlordiazepoxide (Librium).
Nobody knew at that time anything about a possible danger of the substance. Even my mother gave me from time to time one of her Valiums (she took them for sleeping) against menstrual disorders, but I consumed them very rarely.
Then working as a nurse in several hospitals, doctors prescribed Valium specially for heart patients — but sleeping pills were very common. I knew them, but was not informed about their danger.
I lived a busy life with two children, day care children, part-time working first as a nurse, then as a religion teacher in our Catholic church. In 1999, I began to study theology part time with the goal to become a spiritual teacher.
I have to admit that I always had a quite hard time with my mother. She was very often depressed, ill, and my father was overwhelmed. I, as a nurse, took over very often — it was exhausting. Here my nervous system got triggered very much!
Then, in 2003, a car crashed at 65m/h into my standing car. From that date on my life changed dramatically.
I knew Valium as a substance for muscle relaxation, so my doctor prescribed it for 13 years against headaches!! He gave me Citalopram to prevent addiction.
At first I could manage my life, but from year to year my life got more difficult.
At first I could manage my life, but from year to year my life got more difficult. I lost the ability to feel anything. I had to take 3 Valiums every week — was always tired. As a very sportive woman, I lost my joy of running, swimming, dancing, singing. I began to play drums, but had to stop it, it was too loud. I took too many glasses of wine to cope with nervousness (I know now that I was soon in a protracted state!!) and I asked three times a year my doctor, if it was no danger for me to take these Valiums, he denied every time. Even my neurologist wasn’t aware of the consequences!!
I felt very dizzy often, changed my job, quit my work as day care mother, was always exhausted, tried to recover in going to wellness-weekends, played sports, went to the gym with NO EFFECT!! I almost finished my studies, only two years would have been to go, but I had to quit 2007! Bachelor thesis I wasn’t able to finish.
I always thought that all these concentration problems were due to my car accident. And now I know that everything came probably from the Valium.
In 2008, I quit my job in the church. I built (with a colleague) an after school unit for children from 4 to 12. It was a big success, but after 2010 I was able to work only with Valium (5mg per day), twice per week. I had heart problems, had to take medication for high blood pressure, and finally I had to leave with tears in my eyes!!
I had to Google what a feeling was. I was not able anymore to feel anything.
In 2012, I took one year off for recovery, but still I had to take the citalopram and the Valium. I made played more sports; was fitter. I took a workshop: “biographical writing” and had a first shock: I had to Google what a feeling was!!!! I was not able anymore to feel anything. I felt numb.
In the summer, I travelled for four months to the States with my family, with Valium and Stillnox (a Z-drug for sleeping). And then in Hawaii the second shock: I was so afraid to go into the sea! That was completely crazy because I am a very very good swimmer since childhood. What was going on with me?? A burn out? A depression?
Back in Switzerland, these fear symptoms persisted. I was afraid of almost everything. I had dizziness and in December I got very depressed! My husband told me that I never, ever had a panic problem…so this was new to me.
My doctor told me that I suddenly had to get rid of the Valium — what then started was a five year absolute nightmare!!
I flew to a clinic in the hope that the psychiatrists could tell me what strange illness I had. They told me that I was a very strong woman with a burn out! The little amount of 5mg Valium was no problem to get off. They tapered me down to 2 mg, then I went home without any Valium — I thought that it was easy.
About seven new psych. drugs and four times in the clinic to change medications.
The following years were filled with a reinstatement of benzos. About seven new psych. drugs and four times in the clinic to change medications. And every time, I heard that I was psychologically healthy but overtired. I believed them, just wondering why I got more and more ill.
It was 2014. I was so bad that they put me on two very strong medications intravenously. I lost 20 pounds, had three-month diarrhea, and wanted to die. My family and friends were completely unaware of what was going on.
I changed doctors — for the worst. One gave me Xanax (1 mg) and said it would be easy to leave it. The other gave me tranxillium (clorazepate) and neural therapy. I did yoga and was looking for spiritual help to come out of this hell.
In 2016, I flew to a farm. They offered places for people with drug or mental problems. Thank God, I found a nice family with four children and many animals. There I found some peace. I was not alone, but still had these horrible Tranxilliums and an antidepressant.
…a German psychologist told me that benzo withdrawal was the worst of all withdrawals…
In summer 2016, I felt strong enough to go to another clinic for tapering the Tranxillium. There, a German psychologist told me that benzo withdrawal was the worst of all withdrawals, much more terrible than heroine, cocaine, or alcohol! In Berlin, they had people in withdrawal up to six months in the clinics!! I was shocked again, but tried it.
In six weeks I was away from both medications: the benzos and the antidepressants. In January 2017, I could not cope with all the terror, the headaches, the nerve sensations — so I took again a small amount of Tranxillium….till June… and then I left it from one moment to the other. My husband and I were completely exhausted.
The following month was very, very difficult. And now, 20-months off the drug I still suffer of severe concentration problems, fatigue, dizziness, weakness of the body, head pressure. It is crazy. Last summer I was able to swim almost two miles.
Deep inside me there are these very, very happy moments of relief!
Deep inside me there are these very, very happy moments of relief! A deep freedom is showing up. An idea of how life could be! And in these windows I smell nature, feel strong, make plans for future.
I am glad for all support of these podcasts, of other benzo groups. It is sad that in Switzerland nothing like this exists. For me, it is very important to be informed now. To know what is going on in my brain! I read with big interest the your book (Benzo Free), D! And I want to give it to my two clinics! They didn’t hear of Prof. Ashton!!
It is a long journey, but I really hope to see the end one day. I have learned a lot. What is really important in life! And to be very, very grateful for my family and friends who are on my side in this most difficult time of my life! Not all are understanding me, but I don’t think that really anybody can understand what we are going through!
I thank you D, for all your effort and work for doing these podcasts.
With warm greetings from Switzerland to everybody out in the world, Beatrice
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All stories shared on Easing Anxiety are done so with the author’s permission. These stories are provided for informational purposes only and should never be considered medical advice. The views and opinions expressed within are those of the author only, and do not necessarily reflect those of Easing Anxiety or its founder. Stories presented on Easing Anxiety may contain triggering content for certain segments of the population. While provided as an informational resource to our community, some stories may not be beneficial to those who are sensitive to their content. Regarding benzodiazepine withdrawal or BIND, most people can withdraw safely, successfully, and without serious complications if they are informed and have a solid support system. Many of the stories shared on Easing Anxiety are extreme and should not be used to create any expectations of one’s individual experience. Please read the Ashton Manual formore information and work with your doctor. Withdrawal, tapering, or any other change in dosage of benzodiazepines, nonbenzodiazepines (Z-drugs), or any other prescription medication should only be done under the direct supervision of a licensed physician. View our complete disclaimer for more info.