Author Topic: Living in the Light: OldFriend/Cormanís Success Story  (Read 4137 times)

[Buddie]

Living in the Light: OldFriend/Cormanís Success Story
« on: April 30, 2017, 02:11:41 am »
Hello fellow Buddies,

Before I begin, I would like to apologize for not returning to write this post sooner, but I will explain my reasoning later on. I read a thread a few days ago in which someone stated their displeasure and the loss of hope that they felt due to the infrequent occurrences of success stories, and though I had been putting it off due to having a lot of work on my plate right now, I decided to set aside some time over a period of three or four days to work on it. (Edit: though I originally intended to take my time in writing this, it all poured out in one overflowing stream that I couldn't have stopped if I tried lol.)

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I joined BenzoBuddies a little bit over five years ago under the name of Corman, after undergoing a cross-taper from 4.5 milligrams of Xanax to 30 of Valium. (For any interested parties, you can view my original introduction here.)Prior to that, I had taken some form of benzodiazepine for seven years, and I actually withheld some of rather important details about my case at the time due to embarrassment and fear of rejection from other members, but I will now reveal the truth.

I was first put on psychiatric medications (Effexor XR) at twelve years old after years of serious anxiety and a bout of depression that left me with suicidal urges. Though I remained on the pill for the next few years, it compounded my problems and I ended up seeking solace from my ailments in drugs and alcohol as a teenager. Throughout that period, I was put on many other antidepressants and similar pills, but at sixteen years old I was first introduced to Ativan, which not only took away my anxiety, but left me feeling completely numb to the world, which was my desired state at the time. Over the next few years as my other drug addictions worsened (I had particularly bad issues with cocaine and alcohol), I had to have my Ativan dose increased due to my building tolerance, as the pills no longer provided me with the relief that I sought. Though the recreational and prescription drugs helped me to manage my anxiety for some time, at 18 years old I was struck with a particularly difficult bout, and my doctor would no longer raise my Ativan dose. I was then put on a few milligrams of clonazepam, which allowed me to attend college part time.

Though I remained relatively stable for the next year, my world came tumbling down at 19 when my beloved grandmother who had taken care of me as a child became very ill and eventually died. Now, the deaths of other family members had a large role in triggering my original mental health issues, so I was left particularly shattered when the worst possible manifestation of that trauma came into being. As a result, I turned to my clonazepam pills, of which I began taking handfuls to blot out the unbearable pain. Now, these were very tiny, round pills a bit larger than a pinhead, so these handfuls often amounted to more than thirty one milligram pills. Of course, this was extremely detrimental to my wellbeing, and I became more addicted than ever. Despite my familyís desperate attempts to hide my pills, I always managed to find them, sometimes taking over forty at once. To everyoneís amazement, I somehow managed to survive such frighteningly large doses, though my mother had to sleep beside me on a couple of occasions after I passed out to ensure that I remained breathing through the night. Somehow, we always managed to come up with excuses for my rapidly dwindling pills, and I kept this dangerous habit going for a couple of months before my parents finally locked the pills away after they had exhausted all of the other hiding places.

After that, my mental health issues understandably worsened, and I eventually had to quit my job and apply for disability coverage. When it became apparent that the clonazepam was no longer working for me, I was put on a dose of 4.5 mg of Xanax, which seemed to help for a while, though I soon found myself having extreme mood swings and outbursts of rage a few hours after taking my entire dose. During this time, I returned to the realms of alcohol and illegal drugs to escape from myself, and relapsed on cocaine after two years without and began doing more than ever. I also used many other drugs, but most often ecstasy/MDMA, ketamine, and opiates like OxyContin, Dilaudid, and Morphine. On many occasions, I was taking a cocktail of drugs at once, typically including two or three illegal drugs, my clonazepam dose, Seroquel, and Prozac, as well as dangerous amounts of alcohol, sometimes up to an entire 26 ounce bottle to myself. Throughout this period, I also put on a lot of weight due to the persistent alcohol abuse and my large dose of Seroquel, and I found myself at 270 pounds. In addition to all of this, I also smoked three packs of cigarettes per day. Needless to say, I was a mess of the worst imaginable sorts, and though I approached life without any concern for my well-being, I somehow managed to survive the ingestion of potentially fatal combined doses of many different substances. However, after a particularly frightening drug experience in which I almost died for the first time ever, I began to re-evaluate my life. I actually picked up a pen and wrote a note to myself in which I stated that I had no choice but to change my lifestyle if I wanted to survive.

Shortly after that, I began to slowly stop using all of the different illegal drugs, except for marijuana, which I used as a supplement to wean myself off all of the others. After quitting cocaine, opiates, and ecstasy, I tapered myself off Prozac over a period of six weeks (to my mental health workerís horror), and soon after that used marijuana oil to begin a direct taper from Xanax without support from any health care practitioner. I was extremely successful for several months, which were somehow virtually withdrawal-free, but then I was hit with another family death and I relapsed, returning to my old ways and I began taking over twenty Xanax pills at a time as a depraved coping strategy.  Around this time, I came into contact with an old drug buddy who saw my situation and suggested the idea of using Valium to taper myself off Xanax and eventually quit. I had never heard of this before, and despite my situation there was still a part of me that wanted to get my life back, so I listened closely and performed some research, setting the information to the side for a later date.

Around that time, I began seeing a new doctor, who was appalled at the size of my Xanax dose and immediately scheduled an appointment to discuss reduction with me. Since I still wasnít quite ready, I met his suggestion with extreme resistance and left his office in a huff. However, he and my friend had both planted the seed, and I soon regained my senses and got myself back off the illegal drugs, formulated a tapering plan based around the Ashton method, and scheduled another appointment. My doctor was overjoyed with my decision and helped me to revise my plan, which we immediately put into action. I began the process by cross-tapering over a period of four months, subtracting 0.5 mg of Xanax and adding 5 mg of Valium, except for two occasions, which took me to 30 mg of Valium in December 2012. Though the withdrawal was pretty difficult at some points, I used marijuana to cope once again, though I could no longer afford the oil I had used the first time, and as a result it was quite manageable, especially compared to the withdrawal symptoms I would experience as a result of going from 40+ to three milligrams of clonazepam in my worst days. Now my direct taper, which I underwent from January to August of 2013, was another story, and despite the marijuana, I had an extremely rough time in which I was struck with a wide array of oftentimes frightening symptoms. However, since I know how tough it can be to read that kind of stuff, I will spare you the details.

At times I felt like I could barely go on, but then something deep inside of me would take over in a sense and push me forward despite all of the odds. I knew that I had no choice but to succeed and so I refused to give up or even slow down despite my parentsí and doctorís urges. After a terrifying journey through the abyss of withdrawal, I took my last dose of Valium on August 24, 2013. However, that was by no means the end, for I was left to pick up the pieces, of which few remained after the past decade of addiction and depravity I had gone through. I had completely severed ties with my old self, and as a result, I no longer had any idea who or what I was. All I knew was that I had inexplicably found the strength to get through the impossible, and thus realized that I had more power than I had ever previously imagined. However, that didnít help me much as I was now agoraphobic and unable to leave my house except to attend doctorís appointments.

After talking to a counsellor, who advised me to change my eating habits and try exercising to combat some of my symptoms and the now never-ending anxiety, I decided to give it a try, as I had nothing else to do at that point. Over the next several months, I completely changed my lifestyle in a different way and fell in love with nutrition and exercise, which were my saving graces. Since I was unable to do anything else, over the next several months, I lost all of the weight I had gained from Seroquel and alcohol, as well as the extra weight I had already been carrying since my youth for a total of 110 pounds. A few months later, I managed to quit smoking cigarettes after ten years as well. As I began to accomplish more and more of these lifestyle-altering feats, I began to gain more confidence in myself, even if it was just about my willpower. Unfortunately I was soon met with another series of trials and tribulations, in which I found myself struggling with severe obsessive compulsive disorder, which had gone unrecognized since childhood, despite all of the other diagnoses that had been heaped on me over the years. Since I was unable to leave the house, I had developed a series of compulsive rituals around my exercise and cooking that had to be carried out to the minute, or else I would end up having a nervous breakdown that resulted in panic attacks that sometimes lasted for over ten hours. In my struggles, I became convinced that God was punishing me due to all of the rotten things I had done throughout my life, and I decided that I deserved every last bit of pain to which I had been subjected. At the worst of times, I would curse the doctors and pharmaceutical companies for all the grief they had caused me and curse their very names from the depths of my hopeless sorrow.

This lasted for several months, until I decided that I had to start attempting to regain control over my life once again, and I slowly began what is known as exposure and response prevention therapy, forcing myself to go against my compulsions little by little to show myself that the disasters I feared would come to pass were mere figments of my imagination. To challenge myself further, I attended a part time communications course at a local community college, despite my social skills, which had deteriorated as a result of the withdrawal and agoraphobia. Needless to say it was utterly terrifying to attend my classes, though I coped by using marijuana, for which I had received a surprising medical recommendation from my ultra-conservative doctor near the tail end of my taper. Unfortunately, it soon became impossible for me to continue, and despite my extreme resistance to giving up, I had no choice but to drop out of the course. I was absolutely heartbroken, as I felt that I had blown my last chance to reintegrate myself into society, and in my anguish, I actually began to contemplate suicide for the first time in many years.

Amidst my desperation, I was met with another saving grace in the form of a revelatory experience that can only be described as a spiritual awakening, in which I realized that I had been through all of my horrible experiences for a reason, and that they all somehow served to better me. At that moment, I released all of the anger and resentment I held for the doctors, pharmaceutical companies, and all of the people who had hurt me in the past, as well as for myself, and it felt good to be free, for those ill feelings werenít hurting anyone but me. I also realized that I had to make a few final changes to my life, including quitting marijuana and Seroquel, both of which I promptly discontinued, though I tapered the Seroquel over a two week period. During that time, I pushed myself to leave my house and began to attend classes and workshops that were held by the local spiritual community, and little by little, I began to get out into the world again. Several months later, I even met someone through a spiritual website who turned out to be my soul mate, though she lived a couple of hours away.

Despite the lingering anxiety, after a few weeks of chatting online, I boarded a train to go and stay with her for the weekend, and we fell in love immediately and have been together ever since. We met two years ago on April 17, and she has been a guiding light in helping me to sort through some of the emotional baggage I was left with after all of those years of turmoil. With her help, I confronted all of the demons that had plagued me and led to all of my mental health struggles and addictions in the first place, and overcome them through in an intensive process of introspection akin to psychoanalysis. Today, though I still have small issues coming up every once in a while, I am completely and one hundred percent symptom free, and I am the happiest I have ever been. My soul mate and I live and work together, helping other people to overcome their own traumas and struggles on a daily basis, and it feels amazing to be able to give back. In addition to all of this, I began to write a book detailing all of my experiences shortly after we met, and it is nearing completion. This book is to be my personal success story, and is the reason that I have been away from the site for so long, as well as the reason I finally returned. I actually just finished writing the chapter about my taper less than a week ago, and though I struggled to remember a lot of the details, reading my old posts really helped to rekindle my memory. I only have a few chapters left to write, and I am aiming to be completed by this September, at which point I will begin the search for a willing publisher. With the conclusion of my personal tale, I will leave anyone who is currently struggling with a few pieces of advice that were particularly helpful to me.

1. Understand that you have more power than you realize. Within each and every one of us resides an unstoppable force that can be harnessed to overcome incredible odds, and it tends to appear at moments of extreme struggle, such as the benzo tapering experience, which is where I first discovered this inner power.

2. Let go of all resentments. I know it can be extremely difficult and many of you are understandably upset at what you have gone through due to the pharma industry, but in reality, these ill feelings do nothing for you and only serve to keep you feeling disempowered. Though it may be impossible to believe now, this is truly a gift rather than a curse, for it will lead you to a true realization of what you are capable of. This is the experience through which you will ultimately find yourself.

3. No matter what else may be said, there is a light at the end of the tunnel, but you have to realize that it is inside of you. Although it may be difficult to understand, belief can be used as a tool, especially once you get past the initial phase of the post-acute withdrawal. If you are living in fear, convinced that your next symptom is only a couple of days away, you will never be free. However, if you believe with all your heart that you are already healed and free, it will come to pass a lot sooner than you think.

4. Though it goes without saying, as lots of different drugs, foods, or drinks can be triggering, practice extreme discernment when it comes to what you put in your bodies. Lots of commonly accepted foods and beverages are extremely detrimental to everyone, let alone people who are coming off benzos. Once you have regained your health after your personal benzo journey, savour it and treat your body with reverence, for it was the faithful vessel that carried you through your hardships despite the toll that was taken. And besidesÖ the human body is quite miraculous, and given the right fuel, it can heal at an incredible rate.

5. Happiness and health are directly related. From my own experiences, I found that the happier I was, the more I was able to heal, and vice versa. In the first year or so, I was left feeling quite low, but as I focused on regaining my health instead of dwelling on my pain, I gradually became happier. After my revelatory experience, which taught me acceptance and forgiveness, I found that my personal healing was greatly accelerated, as I no longer held longer held onto my pain or identified with it. I owned it but I no longer allowed it to control my life, and as a result it slowly dissipated. This interrelation of health and happiness is like an intrinsic reward system of sorts, because as human beings we are wired for these states. If we have one, we seem to automatically find the other - it is only natural. Unfortunately, throughout the development of society, we have allowed other things to get in the way of these birthrights. If you look at different cultures throughout the world, you will find that the happiest people also tend to be the healthiest and vice versa. In much of Western society, we are detached from any semblance of our natural way of being, which is living our lives on our own terms rather than following another person's (or society's) ideas for us. We all have our own gifts and strengths that we are meant to share with others, and they constitute a significant part of our reason for being. We were born into these lives to experience happiness through the sharing of our unique gifts, talents, and personalities with others, not to suffer in misery because we were never given the chance. In some ways, we as a people have forgotten how to be happy. I believe that this is the main reason that many of us sometimes seek pleasure in destructive ways, which is why it is so important to rediscover what truly makes us feel happy and fulfilled. I know that the tapering journey and protracted withdrawal are extremely difficult to handle, but if you can find the strength to engage in activities that bring you pleasure despite your illness, I believe that you will be rewarded with reduced symptoms. It may seem like an impossible task upon first reading about it, but it is truly worth a try. You may be pleasantly surprised, or dare I say "happy", with the results.

6. Find your own dreams and hold onto them with all your might. What would you like to do when you free yourself from benzos? It could be anything from taking a nice walk in your favourite park to obtaining your master's degree... the options are limitless as long as you are willing to believe in yourself and your dream, and take the steps to make it a reality. Once you believe and focus on your dreams within yourself through imagination/visualization, it automatically becomes real to you on some level, and all that remains is to enact these changes in your physical life, which is surprisingly simple once you have a firm image of your desired results implanted within your mind.

7. Benzodiazepine withdrawal, as well as life itself, is entirely subjective, and though there may be similarities between experiences, your healing journey is entirely your own, and as such, there will be differences as well. In this respect, it is important that you refrain from focusing too much on others' negative experiences as if they will inevitably happen to you as well. By doing so you are actually doing nothing but increasing the likelihood of their occurrence. Though it can understandably be extremely tough due to the anxiety and fear that goes along with withdrawal and increases one's susceptibility to suggestion, I recommend that you attempt to do the opposite instead, and focus on your dreams as mentioned above, and how your case will be different.


If I think of anything else, I will be sure to post it over the next few days. Before I post this, I would like to leave you with one final thought. Despite everything that has happened to me throughout my life, self-induced or caused by other people, I am eternally grateful for every last bit of itÖ especially my experience with benzos. Though it seemed near-impossible at the time, I now consider it the most formative period of my life and I would not change anything at all if given the chance. My struggles made me who I am today, and if not for all of those trials and tribulations, I may not be living the life of my dreams. One day, I hope all of you feel the same way.

I'm sorry to have gone into such explicit detail about some of my struggles and hope that I didn't trigger anyone at any point. I merely did so to illustrate that if it was possible for me to heal, that virtually anyone else can do it too. Thank you all very much for reading! I wish each and every one of you the best throughout your healing journeys and have faith that all of you have the potential to see it through to the end and begin living your own dreams.
« Last Edit: April 30, 2017, 04:49:19 pm by [Buddie] »
Suggestions, opinions and/or advice provided by the author of this post should not be regarded as medical advice; nor should it substitute for professional medical care. Consult your doctor before making any changes to your medication. Please read our Community Policy Documents board for further information.

[Buddie]

Re: Living in the Light: OldFriend/Cormanís Success Story
« Reply #1 on: April 30, 2017, 02:38:05 am »
Wow!! Your story is amazing!! Thank you so much for sharing this with us. The hope that you provide is truly immeasurable.

You seem like such a wonderful person. Congrats on all of your accomplishments. You have so many bright memories ahead.  :smitten:
Suggestions, opinions and/or advice provided by the author of this post should not be regarded as medical advice; nor should it substitute for professional medical care. Consult your doctor before making any changes to your medication. Please read our Community Policy Documents board for further information.

[Buddie]

Re: Living in the Light: OldFriend/Cormanís Success Story
« Reply #2 on: April 30, 2017, 03:22:42 am »
Wow , thank you for writing this! As I started to read , I felt likeI was reading a book , and thinking , this guy should be a writer. And then I read that you ARE writing  a book . Your story is truly incredible on so many levels- the unbelievable capacity of the human body to heal , your strength and will to conquer so many odds apparantly stacked against you, the lessons you learnt and the forgiveness you found for the sake of your own healing.....and more.....
 This is one of the best written success stories I have ever read , your story is also a very extreme one !  I am quite sure your book will be one that is very needed and well received by many many people.

Thank you sharing this much of your story here , for being a true warrior and an amazing human being !
[...]
Suggestions, opinions and/or advice provided by the author of this post should not be regarded as medical advice; nor should it substitute for professional medical care. Consult your doctor before making any changes to your medication. Please read our Community Policy Documents board for further information.

[Buddie]

Re: Living in the Light: OldFriend/Cormanís Success Story
« Reply #3 on: April 30, 2017, 04:14:40 am »
Thank you for this , I needed reassurance so badly today .
Suggestions, opinions and/or advice provided by the author of this post should not be regarded as medical advice; nor should it substitute for professional medical care. Consult your doctor before making any changes to your medication. Please read our Community Policy Documents board for further information.

[Buddie]

Re: Living in the Light: OldFriend/Cormanís Success Story
« Reply #4 on: April 30, 2017, 04:36:52 am »
A beautifully written success story. Thank you for taking the time to share!
Suggestions, opinions and/or advice provided by the author of this post should not be regarded as medical advice; nor should it substitute for professional medical care. Consult your doctor before making any changes to your medication. Please read our Community Policy Documents board for further information.

[Buddie]

Re: Living in the Light: OldFriend/Cormanís Success Story
« Reply #5 on: April 30, 2017, 05:43:25 am »
Your story is truly incredible on so many levels- the unbelievable capacity of the human body to heal , your strength and will to conquer so many odds apparantly stacked against you, the lessons you learnt and the forgiveness you found for the sake of your own healing.....and more.....

Ditto.  :thumbsup:

Very, very powerful, thank you so much for coming back to share!  I'm sorry for all your losses at such a young age.  :(  Your soulmate also sounds like a wonderful human being.  "Living the life of your dreams" ... A beautiful ending ... You deserve it!  Thank you again for sharing!

 :smitten:
Suggestions, opinions and/or advice provided by the author of this post should not be regarded as medical advice; nor should it substitute for professional medical care. Consult your doctor before making any changes to your medication. Please read our Community Policy Documents board for further information.

[Buddie]

Re: Living in the Light: OldFriend/Cormanís Success Story
« Reply #6 on: April 30, 2017, 09:01:46 am »
Hi Corman

Wonderful success story I am so happy for you. You battled through such a lot, you should be really proud of yourself!.  Thank you for taking the time out to bring hope and encouragement to our members. I am delighted you are doing well, and hope it continues to get better and better.

Have a wonderful life

[...] :smitten:
Suggestions, opinions and/or advice provided by the author of this post should not be regarded as medical advice; nor should it substitute for professional medical care. Consult your doctor before making any changes to your medication. Please read our Community Policy Documents board for further information.

[Buddie]

Re: Living in the Light: OldFriend/Cormanís Success Story
« Reply #7 on: April 30, 2017, 12:29:35 pm »
Amazing story. Congratulations
Suggestions, opinions and/or advice provided by the author of this post should not be regarded as medical advice; nor should it substitute for professional medical care. Consult your doctor before making any changes to your medication. Please read our Community Policy Documents board for further information.

[Buddie]

Re: Living in the Light: OldFriend/Cormanís Success Story
« Reply #8 on: April 30, 2017, 12:51:13 pm »
Really happy for you! Good luck with your book as there are many who crave the hope you have to give. The only advice I would give you is to always love your wife for all you're worth. I wish you and her all the happiness in the world. :thumbsup:
Suggestions, opinions and/or advice provided by the author of this post should not be regarded as medical advice; nor should it substitute for professional medical care. Consult your doctor before making any changes to your medication. Please read our Community Policy Documents board for further information.

[Buddie]

Re: Living in the Light: OldFriend/Cormanís Success Story
« Reply #9 on: April 30, 2017, 01:24:03 pm »
Yours is a truly extraordinary story of triumph and transformation! Congratulations! And thank you so much for taking the time to write it so beautifully for everyone here.
Suggestions, opinions and/or advice provided by the author of this post should not be regarded as medical advice; nor should it substitute for professional medical care. Consult your doctor before making any changes to your medication. Please read our Community Policy Documents board for further information.