Welcome to the Underworld

Welcome to the Underworld

Now, this next part is going to be pretty aggravating for me to write, because I don’t think I will EVER find the words that accurately describe how AWFUL and PURELY EVIL post-acute benzo withdrawal is. I will do my best though, and it is my hope that my brief, feeble attempt does the thousands of people who are also suffering, justice. 

So just to recap, I had been tapering off of 8mgs of Klonopin over a period of 7 months. At this point, I had lost my job because I was not able to function as well as they’d like due to the debilitating chemical anxiety and panic attacks I was dealing with. (I mean it's pretty hard to do a good job when you feel like you're constantly floating out of your own body.) Honestly I was kind of relieved when I got fired because it meant I didn’t have to keep trying to “keep it together.” 

So my world kept getting smaller and smaller. I would wake up at 6am while it was still dark and skateboard over to the Triangle Club AA meetings, but that was about as “social” as I got. In fact, I purposely woke up that early so it would be dark and nobody would see me in such bad of shape. Running into people I knew in this condition was the single most humiliating experience I’ve ever gone through. I remember one time I saw this pretty girl waiting at the bus stop, so I figured I would try and get her number (something that used to feel like 2nd nature to me.) I knew that in my anxious state there was probably no way I was going to get it, but I just figured it would be good "rejection therapy". And rejection is exactly what happened haha. In fact, I was stuttering over my words so bad that I think she thought I was mentally disabled because she was talking to me in this really overly nice, slow patronizing kind of way. But I still left feeling good about myself because a lot of guys don’t have the guts to do that kind of thing even when they’re healthy and here I was in tolerance withdrawal.  

But now it was time to do something that I considered impossible for almost 6 years. It was time to get COMPLETELY off the medication. I had followed my taper perfectly for 7 months and it was now time to take the biggest leap of faith I have ever or will ever have to take. I’m sure those who have been through this process can relate when I say that taking your last crumb of Klonopin, without any intention of going to get more, feels a lot like going up to a guillotine and attempting to chop off your own head. I imagine the fear factor is about the same.  

Surprisingly, I woke up the next morning after taking my last dose and I didn’t feel all that bad. I was a little more timid than usual and a little nauseous to my stomach but it wasn’t at all what I was expecting. Had I dodged the bullet? Was I free? I proclaimed my good news at the AA meeting that morning that I was finally free from a 6 year benzo addiction and everyone clapped. Man could this really be it? Had I finally won? Were all those 7 months of misery FINALLY about to pay off?? 

And then it happened....boom. 

The Greek word” Pharmacia” actually means the use of medicines, poisons, and witchcraft. People are entitled to their opinion to think that I’m a little coo coo for saying what I’m about to say, but I wholeheartedly 110% believe that benzo withdrawal is a type of portal to the "UnderWorld", or Hell if you want to call it that. Now I don’t really enjoy sitting in church listening to the pastor preach and I’m not a very religious person so don’t worry, this blog isn’t about to go in that direction. I’m just telling you what I experienced and I believe I was ACTUALLY in hell. Or at least some sort of version of it. 

I woke up and I immediately knew that something was off. My heart began pounding out of my chest and when I looked in the mirror I was horrified to see that my pupils were HUGE!! My reflection felt like I was looking at the creepy little ghost boy from the movie the Grudge! I don’t really know how to describe that but it actually FELT like I BECAME a ghost, like I was possessed by some sort of chemical demon.  I had to skate to the store to get some food and when I walked outside I saw that my world really had been flipped upside down. It was like an EXTREMELY bad acid trip. But for those who have never experienced that I’ll try to elaborate. My vision was completely blurred and my depth perception was wayyyyyy off. To the point it was super difficult to find any kind of balance on my skateboard. How was I supposed to cross the street in traffic like this??! I heard birds chirping and it sounded like cannons exploding in my ears. Everything was....so....damn....scary. If a fucking evil clown broke into my house with an ax tonight, I would be less scared than I was then. I don’t know how but I managed to skate to the store, buy some food, and skate back. I was friends with the cashier at the store and I think she thought I was on meth or something. How embarrassing! Here I was 7 months clean and sober and I looked like a demon-possessed crack head! I had two roommates at the time and with the amount of fear I had in my chest any time I heard them talking in the living room, you would think I was living with two blood-sucking monsters! I called my mom and I tried to explain to her that I needed a ride to Publix so I could cash my check to pay rent. There was no way I’d make it that far on my skateboard. Talking in itself was SO DIFFICULT!! Every time I opened my mouth to speak it felt like a river of battery acid would start flowing through my veins. My mom said she was on her way (thank God). I kept looking at my phone anxiously awaiting her phone call to say she was outside. The phone screen didn’t look real. I was like a cartoon out of Alice in Wonderland. When she did finally call and say she was in the driveway I had to take the next terrifying step.....I had to walk out into the living room and out the door while the blood-sucking monsters (my roommates) were in the kitchen talking. I don’t know HOW I mustered up the courage to do this but I did and I walked out into the driveway PRAYING nobody I knew saw me. Since my depth perception was off, I actually tried opening the door to the wrong car.  

When I got in the car and my mom saw my eyes , she knew that things were bad. For six YEARS she did not believe me when I tried to explain to her how bad withdrawals were.  But on this day, she knew. We drove to Publix and I once again had to muster up the strength to walk inside...(you might as well have told me I was walking into a den of lions). When I walked in,  I realized that this was not doable. There was no way I’d be able to go up to the cashier and get my check cashed. I couldn’t remember how to do it! I couldn't complete sentences or look anybody in the eye. My mom understood and she cashed the check for me. When she dropped me off I ran to my room and immediately started to look on the internet for anything and everything related to benzo withdrawal. HOW LONG WILL THIS LAST?!? I was horrified when I saw the answer:up to one year or longer...I was in this for the long haul...