I’ve often asked myself why I didn’t investigate this medicine more deeply. In every other aspect of my life - I live, breathe and walk a healthy lifestyle. When I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia, degenerative disk disease and spastic torticollis — I was given a lunch paper bag with many pills with fibromyalgia — I read each warning label — don’t drive, may cause dizziness, don’t operate heavy equipment (my car) — I threw these all away instantly, attended a support group where the women in the group assured me I wouldn’t be working in a year — not to worry. I left and continued a life of exploration and holistic healing methods. After 10 years with uncontrollable spasms in my neck and extreme pain, a new family doctor reached out to me to encourage me to go to a neurologist for botox injections. I had heard of botox injections, but everything in me screamed ‘no’ and for years I didn’t go. After 10 or 11 after my initial diagnosis, I was right — it didn’t work. My neck was in a brace holding my head up. I was so angry. Back to the neurologist I went. This is when he refunded my $1K for the botox and prescribed 2 Rx — Trazadone and Klonopin. I took as prescribed and began sleeping well immediately and felt that the spasms were better. After a month, both prescriptions were empty and I assumed my course was over like one would think with an antibiotic. I began shaking uncontrollably when both of these medications were no longer being consumed. I sat in the back of my church where I attended daily Mass and prayed. A man came over and sat with me whom I didn’t know, saying he knew what I was going through. I didn’t know what he meant. He gave me comfort at the time and the strength to move forward. As I sat with this shakes day after day, I realized the only thing that had changed was no longer taking the Rx.
Back to the Pharmacist I went and she said ‘honey, you can’t just quit taking these, you have to reduce them slowly.’ The Neurologist NEVER said anything. Looking at both labels, reading the literature about what they were prescribed for. It was clear that Trazadone was a sleeping aid and I didn’t need this. Sleeping was never great — but, I could manage this by drinking chamomile tea and increasing my calcium and magnesium. Klonopin said it was for spasms. I thought — this one I must need to continue. And I did for 14 years. And one day, I realized that my neck still shook, and I was ready to drop the something that didn’t — klonopin. Remembering the pharmacist’s suggestion to reduce. I cut my 1 mg. to .5 mg — it took 2 weeks to begin loosing my mind. And experiencing a host of other withdrawal side effects (i.e., shaking uncontrollably full body, night terrors, thoughts of suicide and all the other withdrawal side effects that I would later uncover in my search for a healthy me. I have a new doctor who has helped me tremendously by running endocrine/hormone panels about every three months to find out what my brain was doing or not doing and augment what was lacking or out of balance with herbs, while I adjusted the 1 mg. dosage to something more manageable so that I could continue to work. I’m in year two now and know that I probably have 2 more years to go.
I’ve often asked ‘God, what am I supposed to do with this information?” I’ve shared with family and friends who do NOT understand. I’ve written to the Neurologist who is still prescribing this horrid medication, the FDA, educated other clinicians, doctors, health departments, pharmacists and of course individuals about the perils. Perhaps that’why I am on this journey to share my experience with others.
Being a single Mom raising two children on my own — I worked — still do. More now than I have in the last 20 years. I’m now 60. My journey continues. Thanks to a community of individuals I discovered on FaceBook — Benzo Warrior Community, prayer, some good friends, a good doctor and supportive husband — I’m marching on. I’ve NEVER wanted to return to a dose. I continue to taper as I feel I can handle it. It’s not pretty. It’s messy. But, I am determined to trudge through.
For those of you who are making this journey, let me hear more about your life as you’ve reached the goal of a healthier mind. Thank you.
This piece I wrote and published in Medium some years ago. This is how I described my early experience….
Scrambled eggs and ketchup
scrambled brain — neurotransmitters and GABA misfiring
blood courses through veins
some things belong together, some do not
disconnected is the picture
head under water — pond scum is murky
mouths moving — ears do not hear — brain cannot compute — words unclear
only in the breath is the ONE who holds my hand ~ Anita Adams 4/2019
‘Murky Pond’photo Anita Adams