Deep Dive into Benzos | Part 5 | My Recovery from Ativan and Klonopin

It has been 5 months since I last took clonazepam (Klonopin), 14 months since my last lorazepam (Ativan), and 8 months since I posted a blog about my progress! Where to start after such a lengthy sabbatical? I guess I should start with a brief summary of the past many months.

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Cassie

June and July were horrible months for my mental health. We were forced to euthanize our old rescue dog (pictured left). At the time I was in full-on withdrawal from lorazepam. The panic was truly unbearable: coming in waves and lasting for hours. I couldn’t sleep, my muscles spasmed, my ears rang and my head hurt. I was entirely miserable and I tried to numb it all with food and drink. I knew it was a terrible idea but also that it was an emergency measure. I was working from a personal harm reduction strategy: kick the benzos, then the booze.

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Lizzy

August brought significant improvement in the physical withdrawal symptoms and the arrival of a new rescue puppy! My physician was adamant that I stop the clonazepam (Klonopin). Despite my gut instinct that it was too much too soon, I agreed and started to tapered off quickly. On Sep 8 I took my last clonazepam and unsurprisingly the withdrawal symptoms reappeared.

I don’t have many notes from October and November. It was an extremely difficult time: driving became impossible and I had clusters of panic attacks lasting close to 5 hours. Looking after my new puppy forced me to get out of bed.

November 27 was my one-year anniversary lorazepam free. Although I was very proud that I was able to quit taking this dangerous drug, I was still very ill. New medications did not provide the relief I needed from depression and anxiety. The December holiday season ushered in another period of bingeing on food and drink.

In January I was finally able to focus some energy on more healthful living: cutting back on alcohol and junk food as well as taking long daily walks with Lizzy. I started taking some supplements and revised my strategy for using cannabis to treat my symptoms. I plan to write more about cannabis and mental health over the coming months.

Yesterday marked 21 days in a row of walking 3 or more kilometres with Lizzy at my side. I finally feel like I can get back to working on my recovery from PTSD, anxiety and depression. During this last year and a half, my partner, sister and daughter supported and encouraged me. I took advantage of professional expertise, relied on scientific information, and tried to follow my intuition.

I offer these final takeaways from my research on and experience with benzodiazepines:

  1. taken short-term or occasionally, benzos can be a valuable emergency medication
  2. long-term use is damaging to mental health recovery
  3. slow withdrawal is needed especially from short-acting benzos like Ativan
  4. withdrawal is remarkably difficult and causes a myriad of symptoms
  5. a range of supports are needed to manage the recovery process

Wishing you peace and progress on your journey.

 

 

 

One thought on “Deep Dive into Benzos | Part 5 | My Recovery from Ativan and Klonopin

  1. Pingback: Deep Dive on Drinking – Doc MacLeod's Musings

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