Hello, friends! This is my first new post in seven years to this blog. I had always meant to write a post about my benzo addiction, the problems it caused me, and how I eventually got off the drugs. I’m finally doing that.
It was in 2013 that it all went down. Three years later I want to share with you the post I had written back in 2013 (edited for clarity) for Benzo Buddies, the community group that helped me overcome my addiction.
“My Benzo Buddies success story:
Where to start? I knew I wanted to come back here and be a support to people going through the same thing I went through last year, so here I am. Clonazepam (Klonopin) and Remeron (and Ativan and Paxil) FREE since Sept 2013. It’s been 6 months since I took my last dose of the liquid titration, and I pray I never forget to look back on that time and remember the HUGE thing I overcame. It changed me forever.
I suffered severe panic attacks and phobias since I was a young kid. Mom also had anxiety disorder. Here I was in my 20s and living on social security disability. So much of my life was spent indoors, isolated and suffering. How much of life I missed!
I was always one to seek natural and alternative therapies. Some helped, most didn’t. It was on a particular “Hell night” that I ended up in the ER and a doctor prescribed me Ativan. Finally, relief! I slept like a baby. I remember after they filled my vein with the medicine, I started to hallucinate images of darkly silhouetted people and auras…then my blood pressure monitor alarm started beeping–which I remember in my blissed-out state–because my blood pressure had dropped dangerously low due to the Ativan. The nurses checked me, flipped me to my side, and the alarm stopped beeping.
They sent me home with the Ativan, failing to stress the side effects or that I should NOT take it every day. I started taking it every time I had an attack. Finally, I realized my increased symptoms were due to withdrawal symptoms. I’d been taking it everyday, my body rapidly craving more.
I had another Hell night, went to my doctor’s. This time I requested a prescription for Clonazepam, after I read that it would be easier to get off of than Ativan. So I switched to Clonazepam, and it was a good switch. My symptoms eased up a bit.
And so it went for 3 years or so. I actually kicked the Clonazepam at one point, by pill cutting, but then got back on it again. This time I would take it even for a migraine headache! Little did I know…
I suffered chronic nausea for 3 years while I was on Clonazepam. I was fighting systemic candida and H.pylori infections. The H.pylori was the worst. With treatment through natural supplements I healed from the h.pylori and the nausea subsided, finally.
But for a long time I continued to suffer with what I believed was hypoglycemia: the need to eat every 2 hours or less, feelings of extreme weakness, mental disorientation, motion sensitivity, breathlessness, nausea, sensitivity to heat, tingling hands, verbal and cognitive disorientation, and of course…severe panic attacks, phobias, and suicidal ideation. The need to eat ruled my life. I had to take food with me everywhere–even into the bathroom when I showered. I would wake up in the middle of the night to eat, at least once a night, but up to three times a night. This went on for a few years.
Finally, it occurred to me, through talking to a friend, that maybe the Clonazepam I had continued to take might be causing some of these symptoms.
My illness increasingly effected my marriage, and in June of 2013, my husband moved out, leaving me to face my fears and illness and withdrawals without him. Devastated from the loss of my husband, I became even sicker. I could barely function. I developed morning sickness (worse than before). Thankfully, my mother lives across the street, and she became my main support.
It was truly Hell. A spiritual battle. My faith in Christ and sudden, desperate devotion to Him and to prayer saved me. I spent almost every moment in unceasing prayer. It was a profoundly spiritual time for me, that in some ways, I actually miss. I became closer to my God than ever before, and without that, I wouldn’t have made it. I clung to prayer, and the Psalms, specifically, like a security blanket.
Insomnia hit with full force. The Psalms got me through. I suffered in the night, the worst. It seems to me, that the night is the time for spiritual warfare. And I went through it, but thankfully, I had a small group of friends who constantly kept me in prayer and who I could text any time of the day or night.
I began my titration in July of 2013 using coconut milk. The schedule I made for myself empowered me. It gave me focus, a mission. I looked to the day on the calendar that I had written “I’m Free!” I decided to take 3 months or so to go off, approx 100 days, at a 1% taper each day. I’ve always been an impatient person, but a friend of mine told me to take it slow, and I learned that that was best in this case. She had taken 6 months to go off–I was trying to do it in half the time. Everyone is different.
I suffered a lot, but I mentally prepared myself for “battle” everyday–mostly through prayer and acceptance. I remember as the days got closer to Freedom, the liquid in my jar seemed to disappear. I kept thinking, how could there be this many more days left? It was such a small amount of liquid. This is why I ended up taking a little less than 100 days, but it worked for me.
As I got closer to the last dose, I would tell my friends and family, “Two days left!” Or “It’s my last night tonight!” And I had my sister and mom come stay the night with me for two days of my last two doses. I thank God for them, because that last night was incredibly difficult. I had been taking Remeron for a short time, and mostly as needed, and I took it on those final days to help with sleep and nausea.
Then, after I kicked the Clonazepam…it was still not over. I had to kick the Remeron. That was another mountain to climb, and again, I needed the help of my mother and stepdad, but I made it. (I was on Remeron for less than 30 days, and hadn’t even taken it everyday, so I just tapered down with pill cutting over a few days.)
It’s been 6 months, and I am gradually getting stronger. What symptoms I still have may be due to damage caused by the drugs–they may have effected my thyroid and adrenals, which I am working to heal now, through chiropractic and supplements. But, my sleep has improved. I can fall asleep naturally; it’s staying asleep I still struggle with. I am still waking once a night to eat, but that’s much better than 2 or 3 times. Also, I don’t have trouble falling back asleep. The anxiety has gone way down. Sometimes I go a long time without any anxiety. I overcame my phobias because I had to face them head-on and all by myself. I have also been seeing a lot of improvement through EMDR therapy.
Today I feel like a new person or like the person I always was, but now she can breathe and live! I look healthier and I have a lot of hope for continued improvement and healing. The suffering is hard, and when you think you can’t do it anymore…you CAN. You absolutely CAN. And it will pass. It will always pass. Sleep will come. Rest will come. Peace will come. Eventually you’ll look back and realize that 3 months (or however long you choose to take to go off the benzo) wasn’t as long as it once seemed. It’s just time and it always passes. THANK GOD.
Peace of Christ be with you. Please message me anytime. I want to be of help.
Clonazepam (replaced Ativan) 1.5 mg for 3 years
Titration method using coconut milk
1% taper every day for approx 100 days
Went through Hell but came out on the other side.
Benzo FREE since Sept. 2013. Praise God!”
6-27-2016 I’m still drug free!
(I have updated this post, previously titled Scientific Proof that Celiac is Curable, to reflect better understanding.)
In 2005 or so, I was diagnosed by stool test as positive for gluten intolerance. The symptoms I had at the time were sensations of early fullness when eating, constipation, anxiety, and overall poor health. I went on a gluten free diet, which improved my symptoms almost immediately. I was gluten free for 3 years until I came across an alternative energy-based treatment for allergies called NAET. I’ve talked about NAET in a previous post. After several treatments for a wide array of allergens, I was re-tested by muscle testing (Applied Kinesiology) and found to be free of the gluten intolerance. I started eating gluten again, and was free of the symptoms I had in the past.
I started eating gluten again for a few years, and then had an endoscopy for some other stomach problems I’d been having. They took a biopsy (tissue sample) and tested for Celiac and H.pylori. They both came back NEGATIVE. So to recap: in 2005, a stool test showed positive for gluten intolerance, and in 2009, I had a biopsy that was negative for Celiac and gluten intolerance.
I believe what this test showed was that going off of gluten for 3 years, and having NAET treatments, helped heal my gut of the inflammation and sensitivity to gluten. However, eating gluten again may not have been the best thing for me back then, and today I still adhere to a gluten free diet. Let’s keep the gut healed and not regress! More updates to come.
Someday I may re-test for gluten intolerance, but I’m happy with my gluten free diet these days.
Since re-testing H.pylori and Candida came back negative for both, I’ve still been having some stomach issues. The nausea has gone way down, but when I have it, it seems to relate to hypoglycemia or low blood sugar. It occurs in the morning still (but not as bad as before) and usually only if I haven’t had enough sleep. Still not sleeping a full night. I attribute this to a combination of several possible causes:
A) Adrenal Fatigue. Adrenal Fatigue can cause fluctuations in blood sugar, hypoglycemia, and the inability to sleep well. I believe my cortisol levels are flipped (high at night/low in the morning–opposite of what they should be), but am getting testing to confirm this.
B) I’ve been tapering off the Benzodiazepine, and I think I may be suffering the withdrawal symptom of rebound insomnia.
C) My recent endoscopy showed I have a small Hiatal Hernia which can cause nausea, acid reflux, and therefore poor sleep. Gastritis also showed up on the test, though the doctor said it was “inactive”. The biopsy (tissue sample) tested negative for H.pylori and negative for Celiac so here’s yet another confirmation of that.
Anyway, so I attribute my current symptoms (hypoglycemia, slight nausea, inability to sleep, anxiety, fatigue during the day) to be caused by the Hiatal Hernia and the Adrenal Fatigue. By the way, I read that Hiatal Hernia and Adrenal Fatigue usually go hand in hand. The H.pylori and Candida problem is taken care of, and now I have to focus on getting my adrenals, pituitary healed and this hiatal hernia corrected. It’s like I keep uncovering more layers to discover something else…but I think I’m getting to the bottom of it.
My chiropractor is working with me to correct the Hiatal Hernia with manual stimulation. Of course, most medical doctors and gastro docs don’t know that chiropractors can do this. The medical docs’ recommendations are purely for symptom reduction. And their only real solution is surgery, though that’s very risky and not necessary in my case.
So here’s a tip for you pregnant ladies out there: My brother-in-law told me the thing that helped his wife when she had morning sickness with her pregnancy was the vitamin B-6. Once she started taking it the nausea went away. But it has to be B-6 by itself, not B complex. You can take a B complex, but you need to take additional B-6. I started using it, and it has seemed to greatly reduce my own nausea. B-6 is used by the body in sugar metabolism, which is interesting.
Here’s what I took for H. pylori. All Natural. These are the product brands and names along with the dosages my doctor had me take*. The doctor who recommended this regimen to me was a chiropractor who specialized in “functional medicine,” nutrition, other energetic therapies, and used Applied Kinesiology. If you found a good chiropractor who also worked with nutrition, they may just carry these products. Call beforehand and find out. In fact, first ask if they have experience treating people with H. pylori. *This is not meant to be a recommended dosage for your own condition and you should seek the advice of your doctor.
*Apex Energetics products are intended to be used by those who are under the care and supervision of a licensed health care professional.
Apex Energetics H-PLR (K-32) (the antibiotic) 1-2 capsules 3X day with meals, start with one, work up to two.
(couldn’t locate this product on the Apex Energetics website for some reason.)
Apex Energetics Gastro- ULC (contains Mastic Gum known for killing h. pylori, and other herbs; this is supposed to help heal the gut). Took 2, 3 X day with each meal.
Biotics Research Corporation BioDoph-7 Plus (probiotic, to re-populate good bacteria) 2 capsules 3X day between meals.
Apex Energetics TerrainZyme HCL Prozyme (Hydrochloric acid and digestive enzyme) 1-2 with each meal.
In addition, I started taking Colloidal Silver per the recommendations of another chiropractor. I took a 10ppm colloidal silver, 2 tablespoons (1 ounce) 2X day for 16 days. This doctor told me he uses the Apex Energetics line too, but had better and faster results with the silver for H. pylori. I feel like all of the above contributed to healing. The silver I took was made by a local person. Just make sure and get one that’s in an amber glass bottle. And if you purchase a 500ppm or higher, obviously you would not take as much.
So, like I said: I re-tested for h.pylori (waiting at least 1 month after treatment) with the urea breath test (one of the more accurate tests for H.pylori) and the result was NEGATIVE. Proving that natural supplements can eradicate H. pylori.
After over a year of chronic nausea (and other hellish symptoms) I finally have my diagnosis. It’s scientifically proven by DNA testing. The reason I emphasize “scientifically proven,” is because having the lab results confirm for me the cause of symptoms I’ve wondered and researched about for so long is extremely significant to me. H. Pylori bacterial infection, amount: high. This would explain my symptoms, even the anxiety and depression, to an extent. Of course, with anything in the body there is most always an emotional component and there most certainly is with me. Thanks be to God for an answer. It’s NOT all in my head. It’s NOT just anxiety. So there.
But what now? So I’m on my round of treatment–natural antibiotics, non-pharmaceutical because pharmaceuticals are toxic and can cause more harm than good. However, at this stage, if I do not see much improvement, and I mean soon, I will go that route because as one doctor (out of many I’ve communicated with) has told me, “you don’t want to screw around with h.pylori.” And it’s true. I fear what it can become…(please God don’t let this get worse.)
Christ says, have no fear. I know that. But when fear has been the dominant emotion of your 25 years of life, it is very, very hard to break that wall. But I believe in the God of Healing. I believe in the God of Healing. I repeat to myself. I say The Jesus Prayer: Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy upon me, a sinner.
I mostly wonder what God’s plan is for me. Why hasn’t he just taken my life already? For some reason he wants me alive, still. What is the purpose of my life of suffering? Yes, God has been so merciful to me in so many ways, but I can’t say in all honesty that I’ve ever been “healthy” or completely functional. If I am healed, when I am healed, will I go on to become some great doctor of sorts that helps other people who are suffering in the ways that I have? Perhaps my purpose is to simply be me.
Here is a kind of chronological order of the symptoms I had as I had them, as I figure this will be the easiest way for you to see if your own situation relates to mine.
Beginning: Have had “tummy troubles” since I was a kid. Was fed a largely processed diet of easy quick foods like chicken nuggets, corn dogs, etc. And a lot of sugary foods: white flour, sugary breakfast cereals.
– Watched mom suffer panic attacks and also started having panic attacks myself.
– Mom and mom’s dad had stomach ulcers. And therefore, most likely, h. pylori. Probably inherited h. pylori from mom and candida overgrew from feeding on the sugary white-flour based diet as well as the anxiety.
– Anxiety attacks got worse. Phobias got worse. Was on Paxil for 3 years until it had to continually be increased in dosage in order to work and I decided to get off it because I started developing bad night sweats and loss of feeling.
– In my late teens I developed a symptom where when I ate a single bite of food I would feel full like I couldn’t take another bite or it would make me sick.
– would be constipated for several days.
– Started taking cleansing products (Colonix brand) and starting having colon hydrotherapy. This only helped somewhat. (I recommend if you get go have a colonic done that you do it in conjunction with taking a colon cleansing product like Colonix or another product that helps move things along. Otherwise the colonic on it’s own may not do much.)
– Was finally diagnosed by stool test to be gluten intolerant.
– Went on a carefully watched, strict gluten free diet and was able to eat again. Symptoms improved almost right away.
– Started suffering other stomach problems. Was “diagnosed” by muscle testing to have some kind of bacterial infection.
– took a round of several bottles of homeopathic remedies. Saw no improvement. Went to another chiropractor-kinesiologist and was muscle tested and found to have a bacterial infection. Second person to say that. Took a product called Berbercap with Berberine and it seemed to improve my gut symptoms for a while. Was told to eliminate sugar from diet.
– started suspecting that I had candida from all the research I did. But never adhered to a strict anti-candida diet because it just seemed too difficult.
-After 3 years of going gluten-free, I came across a technique called NAET which claimed to treat food allergies. Started NAET and after several treatments was able to eat gluten again without the symptoms I had before. My overall immune system also improved. Stopped losing so much hair and smells didn’t bother me as much. Overall felt a positive difference. Was eating gluten again.
– Also started on a vegetarian diet for about a year. Which basically means a high-carb diet which candida feeds on. Heavy on Grains, Beans, Soy, Fruit, Veggies, and Cheese. All healthy foods in and of themselves, but still, high carb, lower protein and lower fat.
– Started having hypoglycemia and increased anxiety along with it. Started feeling like I had to eat every 2 or 3 hours or would feel ill.
– Started waking up in the night around 3am-5am every single night feeling hungry and hypoglycemic. Had to eat or couldn’t go back to sleep. Would eat oatmeal (carbs) as my middle of the night snack.
– The waking up in the night continued for over a year. To this day that has not stopped. Cannot sleep even on Clonazepam and other medicines that cause drowsiness.
– Started having nausea at night, this would start around 3pm sometimes, sometimes 5pm. And just get worse. Had bad anxiety attacks and nausea all night long.
– Went to the ER and was given Ativan and an antacid. Even though I never experienced acid stomach, only nausea. Started taking Ativan and quickly got addicted. Then had the worst anxiety attacks ever as Ativan isn’t meant to be on for multiple days in a row. You can wikipedia it. It has a very short half-life and can stop being effective after just 7 days. You basically start having withdrawals after being on it for just a short time. The bad anxiety was from the withdrawals. I was able to taper off it by starting on clonazepam which I’m still on. Clonazepam has a longer life. (But I still want to taper off it as soon as I’m ready.)
–Chronic nausea continued and I suffered a great deal over it. Finally was given a prescription called Promethazine (Phenergan) and it gave me much needed relief. Have been taking it almost every day since.
– Was diagnosed by blood test in Aug ’08 to have systemic candida. My suspicions were confirmed. (However, this same blood test showed negative for h.pylori antibodies. Later learned that the blood test for h.pylori isn’t the most accurate way of testing it. Turned out I just didn’t have the antibodies…) Started following an anti-candida diet as closely as I could which included eating meat again, raising the amount of good fats, and good organic eggs, and veggies. (will post on anti-candida diet later). This helped and gave me some better days and nights for a while.
– Still had nausea off and on and still not able to sleep a full night.
– In June ’09 (almost a year later of having chronic nausea) by stool test (Metametrix DNA based) I was diagnosed as having a high amount of H.pylori. Bullseye. This explained the “morning sickness” a common symptom of h.pylori. The anti-candida diet alone was not going to take care of the h.pylori problem. Though I’m sure it was better than continuing the high carb (sugary) vegetarian diet which only fed candida and bacteria. And after a year of the anti-candida diet it didn’t make since that I was still so ill just from candida. The h.pylori was the ticker.
– Started a natural antibiotic regimen. Check my “What Worked” Post for that.