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I am slightly over a month away from the one year mark of my unintended benzo withdrawal. It has really been on my mind lately. I lost the majority of my memories from last fall and part of last winter. I still have memory issues.

Hang on, I’m sorry. That’s way too complicated of a way to start this post. Let’s go back and talk about what happened and then I’ll get to what I’ve been thinking about.

About two and a half years ago I hit a very low point, emotionally. My job wasn’t going well, my mother was sick, and I really didn’t feel like I had enough (or any) control over the trajectory of my life. I eventually admitted that I needed outside help. I found a group that could treat both my brain and my emotions. Therapy is wonderful. I can’t recommend it enough. Between my therapist (She’s a goddess, I swear.) and my psychiatrist, things were on the upswing.

Now let’s talk about where the benzos came into the story. That takes us even farther back. The FIRST first time was without a prescription at some point in my teens when I lived in Tucson. It was never about getting high. At the time it was to try and help me sleep (I’m a lifelong insomniac. Fun!), but fast-forward to being an adult. I was finally sleeping better, but still having a lot of anxiety. It’s something I’ve struggled with as long as I can remember. So my GP at the time prescribed a very low dose of a benzo. ONLY for absolute emergencies. Fine. That was around 2009. I’d go multiple years at a time without needing to fill the prescription. I rarely ever took it. But I took it when I needed it.

We’ve now caught up to where I was on the upswing. While not being aware of its addictive properties, I’d been told repeatedly by many people that the benzo I was taking can affect the person’s memory, as well as increase the possibility of getting dementia later in life. So I was feeling better. With my medical people I lowered my dose, but was still cutting pills into quarter segments to take a smaller dose. So they prescribed an even LOWER dose. This was all over the coarse of two or three months. Not a very long time.

All of my medical professionals warned me to stop taking the benzo. Not a single fucking one of them told me not to just stop taking them. I’m not a hard drug user. There was no reason at any point in my life I’d have the knowledge to not do what I did. It was up to those medical professionals to tell me. But they didn’t.

So when I felt better, I stopped.

I don’t know how long it took for the initial withdrawal to kick in, only how long it took to understand what was happening to me. It wasn’t an act of “I am going to stop taking this.” Because I took it when needed, I simply stopped needing it and therefore taking it. To make things more confusing, I was also switching one of my other meds at the same time. One was being swapped for something similar. So there was a lot going on in my brain all at once.

What I do know is that I went from being the most emotionally stable I had been in over ten years to being in a never-ending panic that also felt like I was on some sort of psychedelic drug. I couldn’t think straight. I couldn’t eat. I would be freezing cold then instantly be covered head to toe in sweat then back to cold again a few minutes later. I couldn’t sleep, although I would occasionally have crazy fever dreams/delusions. I was about 72 hours into that when a physicians assistant finally recognized that I was in a benzo withdrawal. My options at that point were to start taking either the same benzo (or a similar one) but in an even smaller dose to taper off, or I could just ride it out.  I was TERRIFIED of going through all of that again, so I chose to ride it out. A year later I do truly wish I’d made the other choice. This has been an incredibly difficult year emotionally (and as a result of that, physically). The first week or so was pretty much a continuous panic. Not a bunch in a row. It. Never. Stopped. My world literally felt like it was ending around me. One of the hardest/worst parts was knowing that all of the work I’d done with therapy was gone.

Not just gone but everything was so much worse than it had been before. The panic finally did stop, but it came back hard and it came back often. Panic was an ugly family member who liked to just show up randomly.

It’s gotten better but it’s been a hell of a journey. First it was every few days. Then it was every few weeks. Now it’s every few months. Hopefully it will stop someday.

Y’all, that withdrawal messed up my brain. I have hopes that it’s not all permanent. But let’s step back and took at the bigger picture here.

To treat my panic, my physician (No longer my physician.) gave me something that if I were to stop, would make my panic worse. Basically chaining me to that drug for life. With no warning.

With no fucking warning, y’all.

My therapist showed me a great online support group and I learned that what happened to me is COMMON.

So now we get back to what I’ve been thinking about.

I want to be loud about what happened. It happened to me. It’s happened to a TON of other people. BUT NO ONE FUCKING TALKS ABOUT IT, SO THE PEOPLE WHO HAVEN’T EXPERIENCED IT YET DON’T KNOW. This has to stop. And I think I want to stop it with me.

I don’t know how. It’s going to take a lot of thinking and planning and organization and work, but I think I’m willing to do that. People need to know what these LEGAL prescription drugs do to people. I didn’t go through a withdrawal because I stopped getting high. I went through it because I didn’t need the medicine anymore and no one had told me the safe way to stop it.

Just watch me. I’ll figure this out. Pretty sure this is my cause now.

So first, some back story. Years ago, I was in a bad marriage. It ended, and I was born anew to view the world with fresh eyes. I met new lovers and I made new friends.

One of those friends became one of my deepest friendships I’ve had in my life. Oddly enough, it was with a man. I called him my heterolifemate. That is defined (to me) as a platonic relationship with the attachment and lifetime commitment of a marriage. But no kissing or sex lol. We argued, we spent time together, we ate together. He had a key to my house and would come over to do laundry. Having him in my life was never a threat when I entered into the relationship that became my current (as perfect as can be) marriage.

Then life happened. We left Richmond. We got married. And he’d come up to this state…and visit other people. He never once came to see us. We made sure to fit visits in with him when we would visit Richmond.

But like I said, life happens. Now he’s married. He’s having a baby. He didn’t tell me he was engaged. He didn’t tell me she was pregnant. I had to find all of it out on Instagram.

I’m just…one of the things I have the hardest time dealing with is commitment issues. I once dated someone who made me all of the promises in the world, including that I was an amazing person, and I deserved to be loved, and I didn’t deserve to be in that terrible marriage. I believed him. And then one day he decided I wasn’t worth all of that anymore and he moved out. Just like that. I never really knew why (besides the fact that he’s really screwed up in the head).

So now here’s this friendship. Here’s this person in my life who once again, in action, made me all of the promises in the world. You’re the best friend ever! I will totally be in your life always. Except one day he decided I wasn’t worth that anymore.

I understand that I have serious attachment issues. I try so damned hard to not get overly attached to acquaintances for this exact reason. When I love someone, be it sexual or friendship, I love them truly, to the core. I can’t help that.

This really hurts a lot. I’m not ready to let go and he let go years ago. It truly hit me tonight that he’s walked away. And once again, I’ll never know why.

Two months ago, I lost my mother. The feelings I’ve been dealing with since then are…confusing. Mother and I didn’t have a good relationship and it’s been difficult pairing that with the feelings of grief I’m having now.

Anyway, here, I wrote this.


The Box


I don’t like to get political on here. To be more clear, I have avoided it like the plague. I spend the majority of my time on twitter talking about politics. This is MY blog. It’s my place to talk about my world.

But holy fuck, y’all. I can’t get past this speech Trump just made.

Did you see it or read the transcript? No? Start there, please. I’ll wait.

OK, you ready? This post isn’t what you think it is.

When I was a preteen, I was in a private Catholic school. I might have still been the only Jew at a much larger school, but at my teeny tiny little school, I stuck out like a sore thumb. A sore thumb with really terrible hair. It was the early 90s. We all looked stupid. At some point in the three years there, we were assigned some sort of historical assignment. I don’t remember the specific assignment now. The title of the assignment is not important here.

I decided I wanted to attempt to teach my classmates about the Holocaust. This was as terrible of an idea as you are thinking, for as many reasons as you are thinking, plus many, many more. But I was as stubborn then as I am now (Sorry, mom, I love you!), and I was making this goddamned presentation.

Then came the research. I spent hours at the library pouring over every bit of information of that part of WWII as I could find. It was all horrible. It was especially horrible for a 12 year old. It was even more horrible for this particularly oversensitive human at 12 years old. Some of it was more horrible than the rest of it. One part was the worst. The absolute fucking worst.

One of the things I found was video footage from the Nazis. There was footage of a bulldozer with a giant shovel on the front pushing bodies into a trench.

Let me repeat myself. I want you to really think about what I’m typing here. I was watching actual video footage of a bulldozer with a giant shovel on the front pushing bodies into a trench.


Bodies of women, men, and children. They weren’t dummies. They weren’t acting. These were countless, hundreds on hundreds of real human beings who had been tormented in one or more formats, and they were dead. Their shells were being shoved like garbage into a hole in the ground.

You guys.

It is burned into my mind forever. It is fucking burned into my fucking brain into my head.

Those bodies were my people. Those bodies were people born of certain bloodlines, people who had made the choice of faith, people born gay, some random people someone somewhere just didn’t like.

Those bodies included Jews.

It is burned into my mind forever.

When you start making statements like the ones that started a revolution intended on wiping out entire races and religions and creeds, that video is what I think of.

When you start making statements like the ones Hitler and the people he placed in charge of his empire, that video is what I think of.

Trump scares the shit out of me. Hard fucking stop.

The people who are blindly following him in frothy angry rage that their little bigoted world is being infiltrated by reality scare me so much fucking more.

A year ago was a rough time for me. I was still in the middle of trying to figure out what the fuck was wrong with my wrists (We never figured it out.). I got sick for the first of three times. I got sick of the drama of Facebook and moved myself mostly to Twitter. I moved from part-time to full-time at work and realized being gone 11 hours a day was not as easy as I’d expected it to be. I finally took control of the financial mess I’d gotten into in my year of unemployment & got debt counselling, then promptly discovered that even with reduced payments I still don’t make enough every month.

But the biggest thing we’re coming up on the anniversary of is that I walked away from one of my best friends.

Let me tell you. That is neither easy nor pleasant.  It’s still on my mind a year later. So I decided this morning to write about it in an attempt to let go.

I miss you. Since 2007 or 2008 I’d been searching for my blonde. I found you in fall of 2013. It was like we’d always been friends. We had the same cell phone. We liked much of the same music. We had all the same friends. We both love animals, especially cats. And one of the biggest connections we made, one of the ones that meant the most to me, was that you understood crazy. You understood MY crazy.

And then one day you didn’t understand my crazy anymore. It had been happening for a few months and I’d been denying it. You’d started actively making me feel bad for things that weren’t my fault. Things that you had no right to take out on me. Worse of all, things that were out of my control.

It started small. We were talking about roadkill. Of all things, roadkill. I mentioned that dead cats on the road make me cry. You had to one-up me. “I cry at ALL dead animals.” Something in the way you put it. My mourning was insufficient.

Then the “I don’t have time for that.” comments. Your life isn’t that much busier than mine. Yes you have bullshit you’re dealing with. Yes you were dealt a bum hand. That doesn’t give you carte blanche to just be a dick arbitrarily. I had music I thought you’d enjoy. Told you about them. “I’ve heard of them, Ellen loves them.” Cool. Have you listened? “No. I don’t have time for that!” Then a saga about everything in your life keeping you from anything positive whatsoever.

Then you crossed the line. It was after a year of me being there for you ANY time you needed me, including times when I was completely losing my own shit. If you came to me before I went to you, I’d completely ignore whatever issue I had going on to deal with yours and try to help. I always let you vent. I offered suggestions but knew you’d not accept any of them. I got to you first one day.

You blew up at me because I was losing it.

You blew up at me because my brain was broken that day and I needed you.

You blew up at me because I’d made that particular day’s complaint before (It was about money. To this day I remember the exact conversation.).

You blew up at me because your money problems are bigger than mine.

You blew up at me because your crazy is worse than mine.

You blew up at me because your relationship issues are more difficult than mine.

You and I both know that none of those reasons are the ACTUAL reasons you blew up at me. But these were the reasons you gave me, both directly, and indirectly. You told me how everyone was always going to you with their problems and it was too much. You told me how every time I’d gone to you, you’d offered me solutions. Then you gave the best line of all. “I can’t be the one to solve everyone’s problems.”

You and I both know that not only did I not expect solutions from you, but that 99% of the time I was just venting. Just like you did all of the time.

Really it just seemed to me like you were annoyed with me and needed a break. You needed some time off. It hurt to realize, but I understood. I’m a lot to deal with sometimes. I get it.

But then a few days later you came back and accused me of avoiding you. Then you also accused me to lying to you about avoiding you. So then I was not only hurt, I was also incredibly confused. You were the one to push ME away. Had you already forgotten? That was the day I told you all I could do was tell you the truth, and it was up to you to believe it or not.

You decided not to believe me. After two years of being best friends, you chose to not trust me. After two years of being best friends, you chose not to believe me.

So after two years of being best friends, I chose to make our break permanent. It was incredibly difficult and incredibly painful to do, but you gave me no choice. I’m not going to make the effort to stay in a relationship with someone who does nothing but push me away. In the end, I did what you told and showed me you wanted me to do.

One year later. I miss the good parts. But I’m still so very hurt by the bad.

We’ll see how I feel after two years.

Recently I’ve been going public about my mental illness. I spent over 30 years fighting both accepting that I was sick & just going along with the bullshit state of the mental health medical community in the United States, but I’m not willing to do either one anymore.

  1. It is unfathomably important that I take care of my mental health. I need to be able to function in the real world. Anxiety doesn’t allow that to happen easily, if at all.
  2. It is unfathomably important that we no longer accept the stigma that mental illnesses should be swept under the rug and hid from the spotlights of society. There is such a high rate of mental illness in this country and NOTHING IS BEING DONE TO HELP IT. We are still living in a society that required a law written by the president to force insurance companies to even TREAT mental illnesses. Too many of them want the ability to opt out. It’s ugly & we don’t want to talk about it so let’s just pretend it’s not there. Fuck. That.

So here we are. In an attempt to contribute to the concept of uncovering the hidden truths of mental illness, I am going to try and post more about it here. Today’s contribution to this topic is to tell you about the panic attack I had last night. Most people don’t know what a real panic attack feels like. They’re terrifying.

I take meds four times a day: twice in the morning, once in the afternoon, and once in the evening. I typically take my evening pills around 6:30. Last night I realized around 10:30 I’d forgotten to take them. No clue whatsoever why, but I felt the realization set off a panic attack.

I’ve been dealing with these as long as I can remember, so I’ve become fairly aware of the sensation that hits right before a panic does. It’s a discomfort in my stomach, like when you’re speeding and fly past a cop. I knew it was coming, so before it even hit I went ahead and popped a xanax.

The time it takes a xanax to kick in is different for everyone, but the average time patients report starting to feel better is a range of approximately 15 minutes to 30 minutes.

Typically when I can pop the pill right at the moment I feel the pre-panic, I can stave it off, minus the discomfort of the pre-panic feeling, which will typically hang around a few hours. I can deal with that.

Last night I went from pre-panic to FULL blown panic within about 10 minutes. First thing that happens is my heart starts to pound. Within a minute or two it goes from pounding to full-on racing, hard and fast. This is followed by the lack of my ability to catch my breath. I have to force myself to breathe more slowly or I hyperventilate.

Next thing that happens is my stomach drops. I feel like I’m either about to explode like I drank a gallon of Fleet or I’m about to vomit everywhere. Either way, I high-tail it to the bathroom. While I’m in there the sweating starts. First it’s my forehead, then my upper lip, then my whole face, then my neck, then my chest, then within about a minute my body feels like it’s literally on fire. My skin burns like I’ve got the world’s worst sunburn from head to toe.

Luckily at this point I was done with the toilet, so after putting my pants back on, I just curled up in a ball on the bathroom floor. There’s a vent there & the house’s circulation fan was running, so I just laid there for a few minutes trying to cool off and catch my breath.

After about 5 minutes I was able to stand up again finally. As soon as I did, however, I was light-headed and a bit dizzy, which started to make me feel sick again. So the next stop was the guest bed, where I laid on my stomach without a sheet or anything on to attempt again to cool off and calm down a bit. After about 5 minutes I didn’t feel any better beyond cooling off a bit, so I gave up and crawled into the master bed.

That was when husband got involved. Husband has never, in the 10 years we’ve been together, actually seen me go through this. I’ve kept it from him on purpose. If you’ve never had a panic attack, seeing someone else go through one is pretty fucking terrifying. Think of that one time your one friend had just a little (OK, a lot.) too much to drink, had some random scary thought, and he or she just absolutely lost their shit? When they’re drunk, it’s annoying and occasionally frustrating. When you know they’re sober, it goes almost instantly from annoying to horrific, because you can’t see any rational reason for this person to be reacting this way.

But that’s the issue. Anxiety is not rational. Panic is not rational. Neither is logical. Either can arbitrarily decide to set itself off, or, many times, set one another off. Last night was a perfect example. There was really nothing wrong. But that doesn’t matter. And once it starts when there’s nothing wrong, you also feel GUILTY about freaking out when there’s nothing wrong, and getting more upset just makes things that much worse.

So I’m laying in our bed, curled up in the world’s smallest ball, going back and forth between sweating like I have a 104 degree fever and freezing like I’ve got the flu when husband asks what’s wrong. I was in NO state of mind to lie. So I did my best to explain to him that I was physically fine, my brain was just acting up in a stupid way that was setting some stuff off incorrectly with my body. I can’t even tell you how bad I felt. He was SO worried. He genuinely thought I was having a heart attack. There were times in that hour my hands were either tingling or hurting and my chest hurt because my heart was both racing and pounding so hard, I had to keep reminding MYSELF that I wasn’t.

After about an hour, I was finally able to curl up a certain way and fall asleep. Husband tells me I was snoring like a 500 pound bear, but he was glad to hear it because it meant I was sleeping.

Today, I’m mostly OK. I took a xanax with my morning pills, before I was fully awake, so that the panic hangover didn’t effect me too much. Many times the next day is emotionally almost as difficult as the panic itself. I really didn’t want to deal with that today. So far I’ve been OK. Whenever I eat a snack I’ll take another xanax just to make sure I can hold onto this OK feeling. Sure, I’ll be groggy as fuck, but that’s better than freaking the fuck right out.

So, the next time someone tells you they’ve dealt with a panic attack, before you judge them, try and think of everything that person has just completely involuntarily gone through, both emotionally and physically. If you have good mental health, be GRATEFUL. Appreciate not having to go through shit like this.

I’m sitting here listening to a 311 song that I’d never heard before. Husband is in the next room playing bass along with another 311 song, so I have to have my music loud enough to be able to hear over his.

I can still hear his, but mine is louder to me in here.

I have this thing about hearing two things at the same time. It can make me extremely angry really quickly. In the self-checkout when they’re all speaking instructions at the same time, I have to speak really loudly myself to not focus on it and end up getting angry or freaked out. It’s not my only auditory issue, but that’s for another post.

When husband and I bought our first house, he and I had our own designated spaces for the first time. They were essentially on opposite parts of the house, so our respective loud sounds weren’t overly overlapping.

Overly overlapping. Say that shit three times fast. Hell type it three times fast.

Anyway, when we moved to our current house (For the record, we are no longer living in the house I posted as the last gallery lol. I’m just bad about updating here.), our spaces were suddenly separated only by a door. I actually have to walk through husband’s music area to get to my office. We have both lowered volumes fairly significantly, but are both still loud.

Somehow, just for this instance, I’m OK with it. I don’t know it if was survival instinct or what, but I’m really glad it’s happened this way.

A new friend on Twitter inspired me to get down my feelings on my heritage and blood and faith. It’s complicated.

When I was born, Mom was Jewish (blood & high-holy-days practice) & Dad was agnostic. Growing up, I chose the Jewish faith. By tradition, it is passed on by your mother. From what we can follow of our family tree, it was also passed along by DNA. I made it up until I was about 12 before the whole thing just seemed silly and overdone to me, and I didn’t want to play anymore. Mom asked me to stick with it through my Bat Mitzvah, which I did, probably extremely begrudgingly. Then I was allowed to bow out. Because it was then up to me, I did still go to temple. It wasn’t that often, and I was much more interested in spending time with the family that I had gathered there than I was in participating in the rituals. I’d spent most weekends with the same kids who were my age from when we were about six until we were all teenagers. It’s no different than how you feel about classmates you spend all of your childhood with. I’m still dear friends with one of them. His birthday is the day before mine, and I consider him my twin brother. I love him and his family like they were blood.

So where does that leave me as an “adult?” Here’s how I feel and what I believe.

I don’t know if there’s a God. I don’t know if there isn’t a God. I have no way of knowing either way. I am a logic, hands-on, experience type of person. I think that there is some sort of power keeping all of life itself going. Could that be God? Sure. Like I said, I have no way of knowing, nor do I pretend to. That being said, I’m not going to continue on with the rituals if I don’t believe in what they stand for.

Except that’s not completely true. There are certain things that for one reason or another have just stuck with me despite my lack of “faith” in the old testament. I will not live in a house without a Hand of Miriam. I have two now, actually. I will light the candles and sing the prayer at Hanukkah. On Yum Kippur I will typically eat apples and honey, and on Passover I will typically make myself a batch of Charoset (then eat the whole thing by myself and then regret that so very, very, VERY much). But to me, these things are not faith ritual. To me they are tradition. They are things that I have done my whole life. They are good, happy, positive memories for me, and I like continuing them in my life.

There’s still that other part of it, though. Like I said, Mom is Jewish by blood. Regardless of either of us practicing, we are both Jews. That’s something that I can never get rid of, and I consider it an extremely important part of my life. It’s weird to a lot of people, but it is what it is.

How do I feel about the Jewish Religion now? I respect it. I understand it like an outsider can’t. I do NOT respect a lot of the misogyny of most of the conservative Jews. The religion, by the book, is just as fucking horrible as any other religion that’s taken word for word by a text written thousands of years old by old men who were probably on drugs. The congregations I am more drawn to are the ones who are able to see the intended morality lesson from the myths and just do the right things. They don’t treat it as gospel (Sorry for the pun. No, I’m really not sorry at all.).

So there you have it. Nix is a Jew but not a Jew. Like every other part of my life, it’s like a slightly inappropriate riddle.

So this one time, husband and I went to one of our two favorite dive bars. I was still on medication that (unbeknownst to me) reacted harshly with alcohol. Worse, it did this completely unpredictably.

Back to the story. We were hanging out and I’d had a few. Or a lot. I’d made a friend with another cute small woman who was even more drunk than I was. While we were sitting there we added one another on facebook and took selfies. Eventually she had to pee and got up to find the bathroom. That’s when it happened. I thought I was being cute. I thought I was being clever. I wrote a note along the lines of “Nix was here!”

I put the note inside of her purse.

I did NOTHING ELSE to her purse. Nothing. I took nothing out, and the note was the only thing I put in.

It was still a completely horrible idea. She’d unfriended me by the next morning.

I’m still totally mortified and it’s been like a year.