Benzo Withdrawal

In Case You Want To Know Where I’ve Been

Some of you may have been wondering where I have been since my blog abruptly stopped back in August 2013. Let me assure you, I was not having a good time and this post is likely to be a rather harrowing read.

In order to explain where I’ve been, it’s necessary for me to provide a little background.

Image by Benjamin Kranzusch. Click HERE for other amazing images.
Image by Benjamin Kranzusch. Click HERE to see his other amazing projects.

Almost 15 summers ago, I gave birth to a beautiful son. It was a traumatic delivery that culminated with my losing nearly 70% of my blood when my uterus didn’t contract. At that time, I was rushed into surgery for an emergency procedure. I should’ve know I was in trouble when I was still in the hospital after a week. I should have known I was in even bigger trouble when my insurance company agreed to reimburse for a personal care aide. My husband returned to work while I was still in the hospital, assuming I was perfectly fine with the assistance of the aide.

After 3 months, my blood was tested and it was determined that I was fine.

The reality was that I wasn’t fine at all.

My crippling insomnia was coupled with a horrible tightness in my throat that felt like I’d swallowed a pebble.

After years of struggling with little sleep and the feeling that my throat was going to close up, I finally went to see my primary care physician. We tried several antidepressants, each one revving me up more than the last. (I now know that some people have a paradoxical reaction to antidepressants; instead of calming me down, they made me even more anxious.) Eventually, my primary care doctor wrote me a prescription for a few little yellow pills.

All my symptoms magically disappeared with that first pill. Suddenly, I could sleep again. And I could breathe.

I was referred to a psychiatrist who asked me what hadn’t worked and what had.

“The last stuff I took was amazing,” I said. “I think it was called Klonopin.”

The psychiatrist opened the top drawer of his desk to retrieve his prescription pad. “Good choice,” he said.

Over the next seven years, no doctor ever suggested I should discontinue using clonazepam, that it is actually a medication recommended for short-term use only.

That the stuff does terrible things to one’s neurotransmitters.

Everyone was so casual about my clonazepam use, I never questioned its safety. I should have known not to trust anyone who promised Paradise in a pill, but I’d always trusted my doctors. There was no reason to think that he was prescribing something that could hurt me.

I couldn’t have been more wrong.

(NOTE: I’m so glad to be writing again. More about where I’ve been for the last 7 months to come. I’m doing this very slowly. In installments. With a lot of time to breathe in between because it’s all still very fresh.  Much gratitude to bloggers Misty’s Laws, Molly Field, Lisha Fink, Nina Badzin, Rivki Silver, David Walker, Kitt Crescendo, Ruchi Koval & Erin Margolin for their steadfast support over the last 7 months. Appreciation for my real life friends & family will be given in an ongoing way, for the rest of my days on this planet.)

119 thoughts on “In Case You Want To Know Where I’ve Been

  1. I am so glad to see you back in the world of the writing. I’m sure this story will be very difficult for you to tell, but also cleansing in a way. I am always here for you throughout this journey and hope for healing and peace for you as soon as possible. You are amazing!! Keep at it.

      1. Please don’t worry about that! I don’t feel forgotten by you at all. 🙂 You’re still on my prayer list, so as your journey unfolds, we’ll all be here!

    1. Julie: Truth be told, I read your post today and decided to dive in to this blogging shizz again. Insert deep breath here. Thank you for your continued support during this difficult time. I am just about to start the book you sent me. Until just about a week ago, I was still struggling with reading. It’s all getting better.

  2. I will be hanging on your every word, first because I am so sorry you went through this, and second because I think I am going to learn more about medicine that will convince me I made the right choice lately

    1. LouAnn! You make my soul sing! 🙂 I had no idea who might even still be here. I’ve been gone for a long time. Yes, I have quite a tale to tell. I’m not sure what you’ve been going thru, but this is my story. In dribs and drabs. Thank you for sticking with me.

  3. So happy to see your words. I know this has been and will continue to be a long road, but it feels like you’ve turned a little corner just with coming back here. Thinking of you and will be reading along. xoxo

    1. Gigi! I’ve been reading your words the whole way! Even when I couldn’t write a word, I’ve loved reading your posts. I still have a long way to go. I’m not out of the woods with this mess. Thank you for checking in with me. You know, to make sure i haven’t completely checked out.

  4. Welcome back! You have been in my thoughts constantly for the past several months, and when I saw an email update on your blog I rushed over to check on you! Glad to see you writing again – I know it will bring much-needed healing, relief, and support.

  5. So glad to see you back here! I was thrilled to see an update in my in-box so I rushed over to check on you. I know your writing will bring much needed healing, relief, and support. As always, my thoughts are with you.

  6. Hi hon! So glad you’re back and continuing to feel better. Hopefully we can catch up soon. xoxoxo – Boots

    1. Boots! Thank you so much for being a real life friend and for sticking with me during these very rough months. I’m doing so much better. I’ve still got a long way to go before things are fully healed, but I’ve learned a lot about myself along the way. A LOT. Can’t wait to reconnect with you.

  7. As you know, Renee, I have bi-polar disorder (which I will never write about in my own blog) and have gone through experiences which I’m sure are similar to yours. So I know you’ve gone through hell, but I also knew that it would one day get better. I’m glad to see you back in action and doing well, and BTW, you are still super hot and any Jewish guy’s dream!

    1. Hi Perry! I’m so glad to see you here. I’m humbled actually, seeing all these old friends’ faces. I really thought it was going to be tumbleweeds. I know you have a BP dx. That doesn’t scare me at all. I have a crap load of trauma from my past, and I’m just so glad to be tackling it. So yes, I’m just starting to get back to writing online. For a long time I couldn’t even look at a screen. Thank you for the kind words. can you imagine? I’m actually starting to believe people when they give me compliments.

  8. Glad to see you back! I’ve mostly been away from writing too, though not for nearly as traumatic reasons. The medical world is such a murky one to traverse. Even if you are not yet 100%, I hope your percentage is rising! (OK, that sounds weird, but I’m leaving it that way)

    1. JT! How wonderful to see you here! It’s important to take a break once in a while. I’m just so grateful that you are still here. And I understand completely what you meant. It is just the right thing to say.

    1. Kelly! This has been an absolute disaster! NOW you understand why I wasn’t able to get together with you earlier this year. And why I wasn’t up for a Florida get-together. Meanwhile, I now know lots of people from Texas. Who knows, maybe I’ll get out your way again. Eventually.

    1. Leeeeeeeesha! My beloved. I am so grateful for all your kind letters and gifts. I love the painting you sent me. I hardly know how to make it up to you. I see you haven’t written on your blog in a while. Haven’t you been writing elsewhere? Clue me in!

  9. I enjoyed reading your blog before and look forward to reading it again. I think you’re really brave for putting this all out there, and I’m sure it’ll help many people in similar situations. Keep writing! (Stu’s wife and Dalia’s friend).

  10. Glad to see that you are back. I am hopeful that the big pill that they have put me on for my nerve related back pain will not cause any similar problems. It is truly amazing to be able to sleep through the night and not wake up in pain.

    1. Liza, it’s not a joke. Please be sure to do a little research. Many doctors prescribe extremely addictive medicines to their patients without knowing what they are doing. Most pain pills a re highly addictive and shouldn’t be prescribed for more than a 2 week course. I know that pain is miserable. I just wouldn’t want you to have to suffer unnecessarily. Getting off the clonazepam has been a nightmare.

  11. Dear RASJ,
    I think of you so much and know that your openness will help so many, if not already! It’s humbling to read your words, so beautifully written, and honest about what can be a very taboo topic. I admire that about you deeply and hope to be able to be as resilient.

    When you are ready, I’d love to talk to you about a project I’ve been thinking about. Until then, continue to nurture yourself.
    Love, LLS

    1. Lauren! I’m so glad to see you here! Yes, we need to catch up. I’m getting back into the swing of things slowly but surely. Can’t wait to hear about your newest project and catch up on other things. Ahem. I hope everyone in your family is well. See you on Instagram.

  12. So glad to hearreadsee that you are back! I saw you and Tech on Facebook a couple of weeks ago and your smile was so big I knew it was only a matter of time. Glad to read your writing and to know you are well – you have been in my thoughts and prayers – continue to grow and take small steps, they always lead to greater things. Peace. Clay

    1. Clay! So glad to hear from you. I hope your school year has been going well. It’s amazing to me to know that we’re nearly through the 3rd marking period. I’ve missed so much of Tech’s first year of high school. Thank you for participating in my little summer camp letter writing experiment. I never really got a chance to thank you properly. You are a beautiful person, inside and out. Looking forward to catching up with you in time.

  13. Good to hear your voice again. I knew you were still around thanks to Twitter. Sounds like you’ve had a bit of a journey here and I look forward to hearing about the rest of it.

  14. Atta girl! I knew you could do it. It wasn’t easy but nothing worth anything is ever easy. Now is your time to tell your story. Maybe that’s why the first one got sucked into the abyss when your computer crashed. It was the universe telling you it wasn’t time! 😉

    1. Gina! Do you know how many times I’ve thought about my computer crashing. It definitely happened for a reason. Apparently, that was NOT the story I am supposed to tell. (Twice.) I’m not even sure that this is the time, but I’m starting to tell it. I have to. Thanks for being there for me during some of the worst times. To you I am eternally grateful.

  15. Though I haven’t commented before, I follow and enjoy reading your blog. I too have had a real bad experience getting off anti-anxiety meds, shitty shitty shitty stuff. Good luck, keep your chin up. Looking forward to more of your insight soon!

    1. Hi Angela. Thank you for commenting today. I hate that you’ve had a rough time getting off medication too. It really is a harrowing experience. I’d love to hear more at some point. Not because misery loves company but because I am genuinely interested in your experience.

  16. I was starting to think my blog list was messed up! Couldn’t figure out where my RAS posts were. 😉 It’s good to see you back and pray that each day you feel even better.

    My blogging has been waaaayyyyy sporadic. It’s frustrating but I refuse to give it up completely.

    Hang in there, chickie! 🙂

    1. Annie! How is your Circus these days? Thank you for sticking with me. It has definitely been a miserable 7 months. But I’ve learned a lot about myself. I am wicked strong. Yes I am. I’m glad to her that your blogging is sporadic. That means you are off living life, right?

  17. I’m so glad you’re back to writing. I missed you and your tweets!! I not sure what happened other than what I just read but I am hoping, by your writing, that you are much better.

  18. You’re back! You’re back! I have missed you! Tuesdays with no tingo have been no fun. Your first installment is already frightening, and I want to say I’m sorry for everything you’ve had to face without even knowing yet what all you’ve had to face. Truly glad you’re back, though.

  19. Glad to see you’re writing again. Can’t wait to read your book about your journey one day. The story of each and every one of those journeys is amazing – especially when written well. And that is the way you write. (My story is coming along. If you would ever like to read the first chapter, please let me know. It would be an honor.)

  20. Hi Renee, Glad to hear your voice again. I’ve been getting updates from Blanche. Hoping to see you at camp bus. You have a lot of followers. Please don’t feel you have to respond to my comment 🙂

  21. Welcome back! I’d been hoping that your absence was due to a lottery win. I’ve reached the stage in my life now that whenever I get a pill prescribed, my first question is: how long will I be taking these? If the answer is “the rest of your life” I do whatever research I can. Glad that you seem to be on the right path now.

  22. I feel like such a heel. I’ve always opened and read your posts as soon as I could, but I didn’t even realize it had been so long. I’m sorry things haven’t been so great for you. Writing about our ups and downs can be more harrowing than the events themselves. You write whatever you want whenever you can. Your friends won’t mind, and the rest don’t matter. Best wishes.

  23. I’ve wondered where you’ve been, Renee. So glad to see you back in the reader again.
    Your post grabbed my attention and I am eager to read the rest of your story.

  24. It’s good to see you back. It sounds like you’ve been through a great ordeal. Here’s wishing you the best as you baby step back into you. I know you were missed. Peace, love, and all that jazz.

  25. Hey Renee, I hope you’re doing OK. We’ve had quite a year as well. Michael was diagnosed with prostate cancer this fall and had a prostatectomy in December. He’s doing well now. My thoughts are with you! Love, Amy

  26. Man have I missed you and wondered where you dropped off to!! i hope that you are on the mend and this is all behind you and will send you healing thoughts and prayers – miss you!!!

  27. Renee, my amiga! It was so nice to see your name on my email list of blog posts. I continue to think of you often and am glad that you peeked out to say hi to us and to update us. You are an incredibly strong woman! 🙂 🙂

  28. Wow Renee! I can feel the love girl! Wow, just wow! See how much we missed you? Well, sweetie, you know how much I care about you. And you have my total and upmost respect for what you’ve been through. You are so strong girl. You are going to make it through all of this. What an inspiration you are to so many. I am with you all the way. ((Hugs!)) 🙂

  29. Love your openness & honesty, lady. You’ve been such a champ these past months, even on days when you don’t feel that way. We love you!

  30. Such strength, Renee, as we’ve always seen from you. Welcome back to the writing world, I hope that everything is going much better now. You have been missed, and we will always be sending you our best thoughts for a safe and comfortable return to your glory. 🙂

  31. Hooray!!! I was so glad to see in my email your blog!!! It is wonderful to see you back. May your days be filled with love and hugs. You have my admiration, my love and my utmost respect for all you have accomplished and all you will. I have faith in you and have for over 35 years 😉

  32. 82 comments (and counting). Don’t think I’ve ever had half that many. See how much you’re loved and how we’ve all missed you? I can’t tell you how thrilled I am to have you back.

  33. I have seen you poking around Instagram with that horrible sounding hashtag. I was just waiting for the day it would release you enough to find us on here again. I am so glad it did.

  34. I’m SO happy to have you back at whatever pace you’re ready to dive in. I had tears in my eyes when I saw your avatar pop up on Twitter or maybe it was FB. I don’t know. Yours was a face and a voice that was missing for sure. You’re generous to share your story step by step this way. It WILL help others. It just will. And I’m guessing one day it will serve as a reminder of how hard you worked to get back HERE to your life. Welcome back, friend. We’re all here with open arms. You’re sweet to have mention me and others too. My goodness–I know you’d be checking on me, too.

  35. I was hoping you’d back to this soon… look at how far you’ve come, one step at a time. Keep telling your story – you never know who might benefit from the lessons you’ve learned!

  36. Renee, it’s good to see you back and writing. I’m so sorry that you’ve been through such a traumatic experience. Bravo to you for writing about it.

  37. Omg! sounds really scary, but also sounds like you’re sorting it out now gradually, so thank God for that. Keep writing. Lots of love. You’re a brave woman!

  38. You know, I’ve been completely out of touch but I have noticed that you’d gone missing and am happy you are back. I miss your blogs and the occasional twitter back and forth. I’m sorry for the trauma you went through and I hope that you heal more with each passing day. Honestly, we’ve had a bit of hell over here with my daughter and paradoxical reactions to medications. It’s been absolutely horrible! She is starting to feel better but it’s been a rough road and we’re still not out of the woods. So, with great anticipation, I look forward to learning from you as you find the strength to tell you story.

  39. I just wrote a big ole response and it got deleted, so I’ll try again. I’ve missed you and I’m glad you’re back! I’m sure you have quite the story to tell, and undoubtedly a story that many of can learn from. I’m so sorry you’ve been going through so much. We’ve been going through our own little spot of hell due to medication reaction (or over reaction) with my daughter. I don’t wish this on anyone…painful to watch her battle so much. My heart reaches out to you. Hugs!

  40. I was just thinking of you yesterday. I am so glad to see your name in my e-mail, but so sad to see your journey hasn’t been a good one. I will be here, to read and to support as much as you need.

  41. Hi Renee, I have a different avatar and name, but it’s me Sprinkles aka Sherri :). I began a weight loss blog in January and let my other inactive blog go to start my new one. I’m so sorry you’ve been having a tough time of it. I’ve looked for you from time to time and I’m so glad to see that you’re back to writing. I’m now following you on my new blog. I know, from my daughter’s struggles how mind altering medications can, be. Take care of yourself. 🙂 <3 I'm sending the best of vibes and good thoughts your way! 🙂

  42. *Hugs* You know I have plenty of love in my heart for you and you’ve definitely been in my thoughts and prayers. I’m here for you in whatever capacity you need, girlfriend!

  43. R,
    Welcome back. Keep writing. You are truly gifted at it. I also appreciate you sharing the difficult times. Someone close to me seems to be going through the same shit show. I suspect it is far more common than most realize.
    Keep fighting the good fight. You and your family are worth it.

  44. Renee, So good to see you back, and sorry to hear of your struggle. This will be a remarkable tale to tell that will help others–kudos to you for sharing it. Sending prayers and good thoughts your way…I’ll never forget how you helped me get started with writing. 🙂

  45. Welcome back, Renee! Yes, I have missed you — both your blog and your wonderfully wonky picture in comments on blogs I visit.

    I hear you loud and clear on the Klonopin. It was one of the drugs they used during my detox window in rehab for alcoholism. Fortunately, THOSE peeps were experts on when to put me on it & the need to wean me off of it quickly. Yes. I whined about giving up my happy pill. Thankfully, they were rock solid in yanking that med from my regimen.

    During my many, many years (decades) of struggling with anxiety and depression, I tried to fill the hole in my soul with copious amounts of wine and whatever Meds the psychiatrist scribbled out for me. IMHO, the psychiatrist I visited was the worst. After an initial hour visit, his appointments were 15 minutes each — just long enough to ask me how I was feeling and then pull his script pad out to scribble a refill, a higher dosage, or a “go with” med to add to the mix.

    I can only imagine the harrowing impact of Klonopin long term. From this side of sober and properly medicated…


  46. Renee: Thank you for sharing this side of your life. You have so many people that care about you! Since you’ve been gone from the blogosphere there’s been something amiss. So happy you’re back and taking baby steps. One minute at a time.

  47. I was traveling when you posted this so I’m playing catch-up today. So glad to see you back in the blogging saddle. And just look at all these comments. The whole gang is here!!

  48. Renee, my bro, David Walker, shared your blog with me. I am so sorry that you have had to struggle with the hell of Klonopin withdrawals. I will be thinking of you and sending prayers and cyber hugs. You have so much courage!

  49. I’m SO glad you’re back, Renee–as you can tell from all these comments, your readers have genuinely missed you! XO

  50. if you could see me smiling, it would creep you out. 🙂 i’m so proud of you. beaming, i am. you glorious, fantastic thriver and fighter. God loves you. so so so so so so so so SO much. xoxoxoxo welcome back. enjoy.

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