Benzodiazepines slow down reaction times, cloud judgement, cause cognitive impairment and drowsiness, so it’s little wonder they cause accidents. Yet, unlike alcohol, there are no driving restrictions, and when related accidents occur, unlike alcohol or illegal drugs, the media hardly ever make any reference to the affects of these potentially lethal prescription drugs. – World BZ Day

Today is the first ever world benzodiazepine awareness day. I started with this quote because it leads into my anecdotal story. While on benzos myself, I was in two car accidents. After the second crash, they did all sorts of tests to figure out if I had a seizure disorder or something. The answer was right there. Why didn’t anyone tell me? I didn’t realize it until a year after when I was taken off of it and experienced horrendous withdrawal.

I was put on klonopin for anxiety. I started to have no fear, I lost all concentration and my grades went down. I became severely depressed and started injuring myself. After three years, my doctor believed that the klonopin “wasn’t working anymore,” so I should be taken off of it. I was hospitalized and tapered off klonopin over a span of 3 days. THREE DAYS. Looking back I’m horrified at the thought of it, knowing what I know now. I was having horrible withdrawal except I had no idea. They told me I was experiencing “rebound anxiety” and this was something I had before. Except it was not. I never in my life had gotten so anxious that I vomited. They then proceeded to give me bunch of other drugs to treat the new symptoms I was having.

I had severe withdrawal, pretty much every symptom listed for benzo withdrawal syndrome. I felt like my brain had been reset and I had to learn basic skills all over again. Especially things that involve fear and anxiety. I was so scared I couldn’t get out of bed, I spent months just staring at the wall. I couldn’t read or watch tv. My perception was all fucked up, I couldn’t feel my own skin, I couldn’t taste anything.

I felt like my mind had been separated from my body.

I felt sick, scared and hopeless.

I felt like I was never going to get better again. I thought, this is my life now.

Unless you’ve experienced it, you’ll never understand. 

I gradually got better. I watched countless of movies.

I remember watching Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas (1998) and I felt like i was on whatever they were on. Especially the part with the moving floor, it was unreal and fucked up.

Eventually I could read, I had trouble reading while on benzos. Who can read while they’re drunk? Never realized that was why I couldn’t focus. 

I read Aldous Huxley’s The Doors of Perception and realized how fucked up my mind was. Here i was going off of drugs having the same perceptions as someone high on LSD.

I started to watch baseball, I somehow found it comforting. The pace was slow, and there were limited commercials. I enjoyed the monotonousness.

After this I slowly lost my trust in doctors (I did have a very good therapist for a while after, they’re not all bad!). A year later, I went back to school and learned a lot about the brain. I eventually tapered myself off of all other drugs they put me on. Today I am 4 years drug free (8 years off klonopin) and never felt better. I still experience sensitivity to pretty much everything and some memory problems, I believe it’s from pharmaceutical damage.

A characteristic feature of benzodiazepine withdrawal is a heightened sensitivity to all sensations – hearing, sight, touch, taste and smell. When extreme, these sensations can be disturbing. One lady had to stop all the clocks in the house because their ticking sounded unbearably loud; many have had to don dark glasses because ordinary light seemed dazzlingly bright. Some find that the skin and scalp becomes so sensitive that it feels as if insects are crawling over them. Heartbeats become audible and there may be a hissing or ringing sound in the ears (tinnitus) – One of many symptoms; Ashton Manual

Now I enjoy being in control of my own mind.

These sensations return towards normal as withdrawal progresses, and some people are pleased with the new, seemingly extraordinary, clarity of their perceptions. Only in withdrawal do they realise how much their senses have been obscured by benzodiazepines. One lady described how thrilled she was when she could suddenly see individual blades of grass in her newly bright green lawn; it was like the lifting of a veil. Thus, these sensations need not give rise to fear; they can be viewed as signs of recovery.

This explains why I can now spend hours upon hours doing nothing. I can remember back at times where I’ve sat and stared at the complexity of my fingers. Have you ever looked closely at your own skin?? It’s wonderful!

You don’t drink and drive. There is a reason for that. Benzodiazepines are no different. These drugs are not safe.

“If I kill myself, those motherfuckers who poisoned me win.”