Benzo Withdrawal

September 29, 2021

A GLANCE AT WHAT’S COMING IN FALL 2021

I’ve finalized my Fall schedule for 2021, and I wanted to let you know what’s going on and where you can find…

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August 6, 2021

#PSYCHIATRIZED on AMAZON

Thanks to everyone who pre-ordered a copy of my memoir! Books are scheduled to arrive on August 12, 2021. As soon as they…

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July 12, 2021

PSYCHIATRIZED, MY BOOK & HOW TO ORDER

During COVID quarantine, I decided it was time to finish my memoir. And so I did. I’m thrilled to announce the release…

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April 11, 2021

NEW VIDEO INTERVIEW on POSITIVE BLATHERINGS

I recently had the opportunity to share my story on Positive Blatherings, a vodcast hosted by Scott W. Fitzgerald. I’d never met…

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January 4, 2021

RASJACOBSON FEATURED ON ARTISTS TALK PODCAST

I am so fortunate & grateful to have been interviewed by, my friend, the multi-talented Ya’cub Shabazz of Sankofa Studios for giving…

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September 29, 2020

BENZO CONNECT CALL via ZOOM ON 10/13

  It took many years from me to heal my brain after withdrawing too quickly from clonazepam, a powerful anti-anxiety drug. How…

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February 26, 2020

Get Well: An Interview with Musician and Benzo Warrior Kraig Rieger

As many of you know, I was profoundly injured by long-term benzodiazepine use. In 2014, while disabled and mostly homebound, I began…

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May 28, 2019

HOW PLAYING CANDY CRUSH HELPED MY BRAIN HEAL

Many people believe that playing video games rots people’s brains. But what if playing video games – in moderation – can also…

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November 30, 2018

OOZING WITH APPRECIATION

Last year at this time, I was nervously preparing to show my artwork at my very first art festival. The event was…

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I don’t know about you, but I can really feel the change in the season.

I’m a summer girl, so the loss of sunlight is tough on me.

Suddenly, there are fewer hours in the day to get everything done, and for a few days in there, I didn’t even manage to get outside to get my walk in.

(That is never a good thing for me.)

In an attempt combat Seasonal Affective Distress, I’ve signed up to take a class at The Warrior Factory, one of those places where people work on improving their balance and strength & then get to practice their new new and improved skills on a cool obstacle course.

Seriously though, my upper arms told me it’s was time for me to push out of my comfort zone and try something different.

I start in two weeks, and I’ll keep you posted on my progress from artist & author to super ninja.

What else do I have to tell you?

Tomorrow, November 6, 2021, I’ll be at 880 Yellow Mills Road (aka: Fig Hollow Barn) in Palmyra to talk about the dangers associated with long-term psychiatric drug use.

Here’s a link with details about the event. https://www.rasjacobson.store/events/ It is not necessary to RSVP, but it helps us to anticipate for the best set-up.

(Like… do I need a megaphone or can we sit in a small circle?)

NOTE: The venue is in a non-winterized barn, so be sure to dress accordingly.

After that event, the next thing that is coming up is my:

ZOOM ART Liquidation Sale!

The nice thing about this event is that EVERYONE can participate. Whether you live five minutes away or five time zones away, this is a great way to connect and do a little shopping at the same time! Honestly, I had so much fun sharing my artwork LIVE via ZOOM last year! If there was a silver lining to the COVID quarantine, that was it.

This year, there will be 3 opportunities for you to purchase my wares online. I’ll be showing tons of items that are not on my website, most are $30 or less.

Everything must go, so shop early for the best selection!

Purchase over $100 & shipping is FREE!

Nov. 9 & 23 & Dec. 7 • 7:15pm – 9pm

https://us02web.zoom.us/j/7899257474?pwd=NXVyN25tVm9EQzMzdlNmaHZtdUxoQT09

Meeting ID: 789 925 7474

Passcode: RASJ2021

Even if you can’t stay the entire time, I’d love for you to stop by at the beginning to say hi! My friend, Trish Campbell, will act as moderator & make sure everything runs smoothly. There will be several opportunities to win FREE STUFF, and it’s going to be a lot of fun!

After that, I’m packing up everything I have & heading to Syracuse to attend a unique shopping event in Syracuse.

The Crafted Underground Indie Market is already in full swing weekends between now and Christmas Eve at 217 S. Salina Street in Syracuse, New York

I’ll be there:

Nov 20 & 21 and Nov 27 & 28 from 11am-7pm.

I’ll have FREE GIFTS for the first 50 people to make a purchase.

That’s it for now.

I hope you all get outside to enjoy these last few days of beautiful fall colors.

Oh oh oh!

One more thing!

If you’ve read my book — PSYCHIATRIZED: Waking Up After a Decade of Bad Medicine — I would really appreciate it if you’d send me a photo of yourself with my book for publication on my social media pages.

PS: When you send me a photo, you will be automatically entered to win my November FREE PRINT giveaway!

Okay, now I’m done.

XOXO

 

 

I’ve finalized my Fall schedule for 2021, and I wanted to let you know what’s going on and where you can find me over the next few months.

BOOK UPDATE

Book sales for PSYCHIATRIZED have continued to be strong. If you haven’t purchased your copy of my memoir yet, you can get it HERE.

So far, 55 people have sent me photos of themselves holding my book for me to post on my social media pages! I *really* appreciate this! And if you’d like to be part of the fun, all you have to do is take a selfie (with book) and send it to me! Easy peasy lemon squeezy!

I also wanted to mention that I really appreciate everyone who has taken the time to leave me an Amazon review about the book. This is incredibly helpful for indie authors, as it helps to gain exposure.

• • •

AUDIOBOOK ANNOUNCEMENT

This Wednesday, I’m starting to work on the audiobook version of PSYCHIATRIZED with Scott W. Fitzgerald of ROC VOX Recording & Production. I’m very excited about this endeavor. I know that when I was sick, it was very difficult (and sometimes impossible) for me to read. Hopefully, an audiobook will provide an addition option for people who’d rather listen than read.

• • •

BOOK LAUNCH in SYRACUSE, NY

             This is Renee McLain, y’all.

Sunday, October 3, 2021

4:30-6:30pm

8219 Marketplace, Building #10

Manlius, NY

This Sunday, I’ll be in Manlius, New York for my BOOK LAUNCH! I’ll be talking about my experience of healing after longterm prescription benzodiazepine use. Those of you who have read my book know that when I was at my lowest low, a woman named Renee McLain brought me home with her and took care of me for an extended period of time.

Many people have asked if I was imagining Renee, if she was real or a figment of my imagination.

The answer is, of course, she’s real!

Renee McLain happens to be the owner of Center of Grace Wellness Center in Manlius, New York, which is where my first book talk will take place! Renee will be at the venue and, after I speak, she will talk about what she does to help people to release repressed trauma(s). After the presentation, I’ll be signing books, and there will be a curated selection of my artwork for people to purchase. There will also be a small reception after the presentation for folks to enjoy.

To reserve your seat(s) HERE — or call BJ at Center of Grace at 607-227-3878. Seating is limited, so be sure to RSVP.

• • •

BOOK TALK in ROCHESTER

PSYCHIATRIZED: Waking Up After a Decade of Bad Medicine 

Thursday, October 14, 2021

Hillel Community Day School

191 Fairfield Drive

Rochester, NY • 6:30 – 8:30pm

I’ll be talking about my experience of healing after longterm prescription benzodiazepine use. Renee McLain will be present to talk about Somato Respiro Integration, and (finger-crossed), I’m hoping that my former therapist Vickijo Campanaro will be in attendance, too.  After the presentation, I’ll sign books, and there will be a curated selection of my artwork for people to purchase. For more details about the event and to reserve your seat(s) HERE. Seating is limited, so be sure to RSVP.

• • •

ZOOM ART CLASSES

If you’d like to join me Wednesday nights for my ZOOM ART CLASS for ADULTS, a small group of us meet weekly from 7-8:30PM EST. People can sign up for a month at a time or for the next three months. These classes are no pressure, and they are designed for connection and relaxation. For more information & details about supplies, click HERE.

And if you’d like to see an example of the kinds of things we do, click HERE.

Hope everyone is enjoying the cooler temperatures!

Thanks to everyone who pre-ordered a copy of my memoir! Books are scheduled to arrive on August 12, 2021. As soon as they get here, I’ll start signing them & sending them out as quickly as I can.

The book is called PSYCHIATRIZED: Waking Up After a Decade of Bad Medicine, and even if you missed out on the opportunity to get a signed copy, paperback & ebook versions are available via Amazon. Click HERE to get yours!

SYNOPSIS

When a trusted physician tells Renée Schuls-Jacobson that he has the solution for her chronic insomnia — a “tried and true medication without any side effects,” she believes him. For seven years, she takes her clonazepam exactly as prescribed until, one day, she learns that her doctor is wrong: long-term benzodiazepine use causes all kinds of problems including profound changes in brain function.

With the help of an addiction specialist, Renée embarks on a slow, medically supervised taper, only to find herself cognitively scrambled and stuck in the nightmare of benzodiazepine withdrawal. For nearly four years, she endures hundreds of terrifying physical, emotional and psychological symptoms – none of which were present before taking the medication.

While healing from an iatrogenic brain injury that is not widely recognized by doctors, Renée leaves everything familiar behind and goes on a journey, meeting scientists and sages, healers and hucksters, who all teach her the same hard lesson: to stop seeking the help of experts and to trust her intuition.

In PSYCHIATRIZED: Waking Up After a Decade of Bad Medicine, the author contemplates the cost of compliance and exposes the truth about the dangers of psychiatric drugs as well as a discontinuation syndrome, which affects thousands of men and women worldwide.

Information about my upcoming book tour to follow.

Look for the hashtag #psychiatrized!

When you finish reading my memoir, I’d *really* appreciate it if you’d leave a written review on Amazon. Reviews helps indie authors to obtain more of a reach across the Amazon Books platform. 

During COVID quarantine, I decided it was time to finish my memoir.

And so I did.

I’m thrilled to announce the release of PSYCHIATRIZED: Waking Up After a Decade of Bad Medicine.

I’m currently taking payment for signed, paperback copies until July 31, 2021.

Copies will be shipped in August.

If you’d like to order a copy (or copies), CLICK HERE:

Or you can Venmo me at @rasjacobson.

Thank you all so much for your support during these last eight years of crazy-town.

SYNOPSIS

When a trusted physician tells Renée Schuls-Jacobson that he has the solution for her chronic insomnia — a “tried and true medication without any side effects,” she believes him. For seven years, she takes her clonazepam exactly as prescribed until, one day, she learns that her doctor is wrong: long-term benzodiazepine use causes all kinds of problems including profound changes in brain function.

With the help of an addiction specialist, Renée embarks on a slow, medically supervised taper, only to find herself cognitively scrambled and stuck in the nightmare of benzodiazepine withdrawal. For nearly four years, she endures hundreds of terrifying physical, emotional and psychological symptoms – none of which were present before taking the medication.

While healing from an iatrogenic brain injury that is not widely recognized by doctors, Renée leaves everything familiar behind and goes on a journey, meeting scientists and sages, healers and hucksters, who all teach her the same hard lesson: to stop seeking the help of experts and to trust her intuition.

In PSYCHIATRIZED: Waking Up After a Decade of Bad Medicine, Renée Schuls-Jacobson contemplates the cost of compliance and exposes the truth about the dangers of psychiatric drugs as well as a discontinuation syndrome, which affects thousands of men and women worldwide.

More information to follow under the hashtag #psychiatrized!

 

 

I recently had the opportunity to share my story on Positive Blatherings, a vodcast hosted by Scott W. Fitzgerald.

I’d never met Scott before this interview, and he literally knew NOTHING at all about my story.

This conversation was an incredibly positive experience for me, and while I know many of you have seen it, I thought I would share it on my blog, in an effort to continue to spread the word about the dangers of longterm benzodiazepine use, even if you are only taking it exactly as prescribed, which is what I did.

The interview is also available as a podcast here, if you prefer.

I am so fortunate & grateful to have been interviewed by, my friend, the multi-talented Ya’cub Shabazz of Sankofa Studios for giving me an opportunity to share my story on his inspirational podcast.

I hope you will learn a bit more about my experience during benzodiazepine withdrawal as well as my artistic process — and then click over to check out Ya’cub’s website, his podcast series, & his educational series.

 

It took many years from me to heal my brain after withdrawing too quickly from clonazepam, a powerful anti-anxiety drug.

How I wished there was someone I could see and talk to who had been through the experience!

I promised that if I ever got to the other side of this injury that I would do something to give back to those who are still struggling.

To that end, I am joining forces with Reverend Heather Elizabeth of Bye Bye Benzos, and the two of us will be co-facilitating a one-hour ZOOM call to talk about our stories as well as information about some of the modalities that helped us — and continue to help us — as we move through complicated trauma.

Participants may join with or without video at 11AM EST, but we must be able to see your real name. (People with “nicknames” will not be allowed into the call.)

Heather and I will join the meeting at 11:11AM EST.

The ZOOM call is 100% free, and there will be an opportunity for Q & A.

If you are interested in joining us, please go to Rasjacobson Art, LIKE my page & click GOING or INTERESTED and you will receive the link & the password on the morning of the event.

In the meantime, you can hear more about my story HERE and HERE & hear Heather’s story here HERE.

As many of you know, I was profoundly injured by long-term benzodiazepine use. In 2014, while disabled and mostly homebound, I began writing about my experience with benzodiazepine withdrawal in my online blog.

Five years later, Kraig Rieger found my blog.

Suffering from hundreds of horrifying symptoms, he read that I’d healed and reached out to me via email for support. Though we live thousands of miles apart in completely different time zones, we’ve been communicating for close to a year, and it brings me great joy to share this interview I did with him about the CD he has managed to produce despite the fact that he is, in fact, very sick.

GET WELL chronicles the horrors associated with a syndrome that is not recognized by most medical professionals. Like so many of us who have been harmed, Kraig hopes to raise awareness about the dangers associated with medications commonly prescribed by physicians.

…………………………………………………..

RASJ:  What were you like pre-benzos? What were your interests?

KR:      Most of the interests that I had pre-benzos have stayed the same. I’ve always enjoyed NBA basketball, pro wrestling, reading, different genres of rock music, exercising, movies, etc. I played sports in high school, including basketball and soccer, and I have continued to follow basketball throughout my life. The hard thing about life pre-benzo and life now is I find it much harder to connect with hobbies and interests and mustering the energy to care about things can be difficult at times. I sort of have to force myself to care about things. One of the most difficult things for me is my interest in going to concerts has completely disappeared. I always think about buying tickets, and then I worry about how I’m going to feel on that particular day and decide it’s not worth it.

RASJ: What brought you to benzos in the first place?

KR:      About ten years ago, I had some sleep-related issues that were a result of anxiety because of a job I took after college. Initially, the medication helped, and then it didn’t.

RASJ:   How did you end up deciding to go off the drugs? How was it handled?

KR:      I was off and on benzos for many years, and I quit taking them cold-turkey several times not knowing you aren’t supposed to do that. At one point, after I abruptly stopped taking them, I became terribly depressed. I started having crying spells and feeling like I was genuinely losing my mind. Looking back now, I would do things very differently.

RASJ:   What is your life like now? What are your greatest challenges as you move thru this weird healing?

KR:      It’s been about two years since I quit taking the medication. I still struggle with inexplicable anger when forced to confront any stress and oftentimes for no discernible reason; I also have bouts of severe depression for no apparent reason. I have burning sensations in random places on my body, most noticeably my face and my calves, and my vision is blurry. Anhedonia – the absence of joy — is another tough symptom I’ve had the entire time. I bought a new guitar during this recovery, and my wife was like: “You’re not even excited.” The lack of joy and happiness has been the hardest thing to cope with on top of other tough mental symptoms.

RASJ:   What motivated you to create this CD?

                         *Kraig Rieger, 2020

KR:      I tend to gravitate to a guitar regardless of feeling good or bad, so I just started working on songs regardless of feeling bad. It took me about a year after quitting the medication to even have a tiny spark of desire to compose anything new. While going thru this process, people tend to become completely consumed by terrible, dark thoughts, and I figured it would be a good chance to write a concept album all about the same subject. Overall, playing guitar and writing songs has been a good distraction throughout the misery.

RASJ:   Which songs do you connect with most deeply?

KR:      I wrote “Walks” in about a day. It’s a really simple song, but the bridge has a pretty interesting chord progression that is fun to play. The opening line references taking walks outside, which I’ve done throughout this process to ground myself and feel some semblance of normality.

“Seasons” is one of my favorite songs on the album. I almost didn’t record it because we had nine songs done at that point. I like how my voice sounds on this track, and the song details how long the process of feeling better can take as you pass through season after season, year after year, not feeling well.

“Mirrors” is the first song that I wrote for the album. It details how devastating an invisible illness can be. I look at myself in the mirror, and the bizarre thing is that I don’t look like anything is wrong with me at all. On the outside, I even look pretty healthy physically. It’s amazing how appearances can be so deceiving.

RASJ:   What else do you want people to know about this CD?

KR:     The most interesting part of recording this album is I worked on it with Nate Smith, another person currently going through benzo withdrawal himself, someone I met on a forum. I would send Nate the recording with rhythm guitar, vocals, and sometimes bass, and he would finish the songs by adding drums, vocal harmonies, and other instruments. He made the songs sound really good. I would send him the bare bones stuff thinking ‘these songs aren’t very good,’ and then he would return them to me, transformed. It’s been a cool collaboration.

RASJ:   Tell me about the awesome cover art.

KR:      A friend of mine from high school designed the cover art which depicts a man standing in front of a mirrored medicine cabinet. The viewer understands that this man is exhausted and his reflection reveals the face of a skeleton. The cabinet is filled with empty bottles, and the man knows that nothing can really save him from the misery. That’s what we were going for. Mundi’s work can be found on Instagram @mundi.art.

You can listen to GET WELL on BANDCAMP, AMAZON, SPOTIFY  & YOUTUBE.

And if you search Come Back K! on iTunes, you can buy the entire CD there.

………………………………………………..

Thank you for letting me share a little of your story here, Kraig. I’m incredibly proud of you for finding a way to transform your horrifying experience into something beautiful and relatable. I hope you find yourself on the other side of this injury very soon. Trust me when I say that healing is possible. It just takes a very long time.

Feel free to contact me if you’d like to share your Benzo Warrior story on my page.

 

 

 

Many people believe that playing video games rots people’s brains. But what if playing video games – in moderation – can also help people to heal from brain injuries?

When I was going through physical withdrawal after coming off of clonazepam, I was so impaired that for many years, I could not read or write.

For a time, I couldn’t bear to look at any electronic screens. There was something about those blue screens that I just couldn’t tolerate. If you’ve ever watched a TV show on a broken television screen, that’s kind of how I experienced screens: the picture appeared pixilated and it was just too stressful for my poor, injured brain to handle.

At some point, someone suggested I start trying to “retrain my brain” to handle stress by playing simple video games. They suggested that I would be able to measure my distress tolerance by seeing how long I could play, that it would be a fun way to chart my healing process.

The game seemed easy enough to play: you simply try to get three or four or five of a one color candy in a row and try to blow up a certain number of translucent gels or collect nuts and cherries. No one was being shot at or injured, and – for some reason – the colors and shapes didn’t bother my eyes.

And while I’ve never been particularly interested in video games, I downloaded the app.

At first, I could barely play for even a minute. It was impossible for me to tolerate all the action on the screen; my eyes watered and I found my pulse rate would increase to the point of discomfort.

Instead of quitting though, I decided I would challenge myself to play every day for as long as I could.

I mean, if someone said playing video games helped him to heal, well… I was willing to give it a try.

After a while, I found I could last for one full life. Then two lives. Eventually, I was able to play long enough that I actually ran out of lives and had to wait to play another day.

Strange as it sounds, this is how I began to measure progress.

As I became more successful at the game – I could play longer with better results and less physical distress – I found a little place inside myself that reasoned that I was actually healing and that I could apply the same principle with everything.

There is something about the immediate and concrete feedback in video games (e.g., through points, coins, dead ends in puzzles) that served to reward my continual effort. In fact, research has shown that the extent to which individuals endorse an incremental versus entity theory of intelligence reliably predicts whether individuals in challenging circumstances will persist or give up, respectively (Dweck & Molden, 2005). These implicit theories of intelligence have implications for how failure is processed and dealt with.

Being immersed in Candy Crush taught me an essential basic lesson: persistence in the face of failure reaps rewards.

And my experiences of failure did not lead to anger, frustration, or sadness; instead, I responded to failures with excitement and interest and a motivation to improve my performance. When faced with failure, I was motivated to return to the task of winning, and I felt optimistic about reaching my goals.

Shortly after I started playing Candy Crush, I started painting.

At first my paintings were primitive – simple hearts and words. Over time, I tackled imaginary monsters, portraits of pets & people.

Six years later, my brain is nearly healed.

I still have some trouble with long-term planning and some memory loss between August 2013 and September 2015.

But I’m reading again.

Teaching again.

I’m painting & participating in art festivals.

I have friends again.

A social life.

Rituals.

And I still play Candy Crush every day.

(PS: I’m on Level 1197, in case anyone was wondering.)

What weird thing do you believe helped you to heal when going thru difficult circumstances?


REFUSE TO SINK is available as a 12″ print, a 6″ tile & as a magnet. Click HERE to see more!

Last year at this time, I was nervously preparing to show my artwork at my very first art festival.

The event was to take place in The South Wedge, a funky/artsy neighborhood here in Rochester, New York.

I had no idea what my booth would look like or how my display was going to work.

I had no idea what I was doing.

Fast forward twelve months.

Today, I’m calmly preparing for the same show in the South Wedge this Saturday.

So it’s a mile marker, an anniversary of sorts, and – as such – it’s an opportunity to reflect.

When I started painting in 2014, the paintings were for myself.

When I was sick and mostly homebound, it NEVER occurred to me that the affirmations I used to get through benzodiazepine withdrawal would one day become a business, a way for me to connect with and help people who are going through their own invisible struggles.

Now that I have a little space from all of that, I see I was experiencing what Carl Jung refers to as the ‘Dark Night of the Soul’ – a period of spiritual desolation suffered during which time all sense of consolation is removed.

It has taken me over five years to get to where I am now.

Those of you who’ve been with me for a long time can probably see the changes better than even I can. I never knew I possessed the kind of strength necessary to get thru the kinds of crises I faced, and I can honestly say I am a stronger, a more empathetic person on the other side of this mess.

I’d like to take this opportunity to express my gratitude to everyone who has believed in me, supported me personally, financially, intellectually, and spiritually.

I want you know that in a real way, YOU helped save my life. When you bought my work, or shared it, you showed me you believed in me. You saw something in me that I didn’t see in myself.

To me, this is nothing short of a miracle.

And now it’s the holiday season.

The Season of Miracles.

Everyone is rushing around, furiously shopping for gifts to show their friends and family members how much they are loved.

And that’s awesome because presents are fun and fabulous and obviously I’m selling my work, which is weird and wonderful and I love everything about the festivity of the season.

And yet.

It’s important to remember it’s not about the stuff.

The greatest gift you can ever give to someone is your time & attention.

Check in with the people around you. Really check in.

Not via text message, but with a phone call. A meal.  A walk.

Sit down with your most cherished people and tell them you love them, you need them, and you support them.

Many of us feel we have to hide the fragile parts of ourselves, the places where we are insecure.

Ask questions.

Get curious about what people are really feeling, what they’re really going thru but not sharing.

It’s healthy.

It’s necessary.

And we’re not doing enough of it these days.

Just because someone looks at you and says ‘I’m fine,’ it doesn’t mean they’re fine.

XOXORASJ