Making Sense of Healing In A Quick Fix AgeMay 31, 2022
We’ve become so accustomed to the machine-gun pace of modern life—and to good-natured warnings against it—that it seems almost quaint to write about it and geriatric to lament its pitfalls. However, I think that if we don’t continue to put checks and balances on such a hectic plow forward, then our health suffers as a result.
Refusing to recognize a slower way of life that values health and spiritual growth over immediacy has consequences.
Attention deficit happens. Emotional numbing happens. A loss of gratitude happens. Burnout happens. Disappointment happens. When we are always looking for instant gratification and quick fixes that lack spiritual depth, then the logical result is an eventual bomb blowing up in our faces.
Case in point: modern prescription drugs, namely antidepressant and benzodiazepine medications, that come with personality-altering effects and soul-attacking withdrawals.
When I was a scared 21-year old who’d begun experiencing panic attacks in college (and anxiety about those panic attacks), I considered dropping out of school: maybe taking one year off before graduating; maybe moving back home until the emotional storms passed; maybe writing or getting therapy until I figured out the reason why I was suddenly unable to breath or think clearly in that stuffy journalism classroom.
Maybe I’d take a year off—travel and find truth and love and peace. I didn’t know.
I didn’t know.
Admittedly I didn’t have a great plan for exactly what I would do if I dropped out of college to deal with the panic, but still, something about it seemed right to me. Deep down, the path less traveled seemed like the healthier one.
But alas, the path I ended up taking was one that promised more immediate results. It was a path that would allow me to graduate with honors and continue plowing forward with my life. It was a path that other people seemed to think made more sense. It was a path that began with a visit to the family doctor’s office and a couple of prescriptions.
But in the end, it surely wasn’t the shortest path to feeling better, because by taking Paxil and Xanax I was just kicking the can of my well-being down the road.
I would end up taking the medications for about fourteen years, suffering various strange effects while on them and then quitting them in my thirties and suffering through a hellish protracted drug withdrawal that had me questioning my sanity and thinking I was going to die.
Don’t get me wrong. My twenties and thirties weren’t some horror picture. I had a career and a loving wife (who I’m still married to) and a lot of good times—I’m not saying that my life was by any means lost because of the drugs. But I didn’t truly begin finding the sort of calm or peace I needed until nearly two decades after first receiving those prescriptions from Dr. . . . I don’t even remember his name, now. Doctor whoever.
What is my point? My point is that fixes do exist for our problems, but they usually aren’t instant. Beware of those that seem too quick to be true.
Now none of us can go back in time to erase the pain of our past or to change a decision or ten we made, but we can learn from difficulties, and I have learned. I learned lessons from taking the medications, and I learned many more from quitting them.
When I quit the medications I learned that, at least for some people, prescription drug withdrawal is a reality. (This can take the form of Paxil withdrawal, Effexor withdrawal, Remeron withdrawal, Lexapro withdrawal, Xanax withdrawal, Klonopin withdrawal, Ativan withdrawal, and so many others.) That means that there can be many dozens of painful symptoms for people as the body and mind work to rid themselves of prescription toxins and find natural balance.
But I also learned that God never abandons us. And I learned that healing happens. However, it exists as a process—not as a gimmick or as a prescription, although nowadays I would see those two terms as basically synonymous in this context.
Many people who are going through antidepressant and/or benzodiazepine withdrawal are looking for quick fixes to the situation. Some are, unfortunately, still looking to other prescription medications to fix the problem (often at the behest of a prescribing doctor), and many others are looking for the right supplement or diet or alternate diagnosis to make it all go away by next week. Such thinking is understandable, but misguided. I can say that now because I’ve been there.
Again, the fixes to our problems—withdrawal included—do exist, but they aren’t of the “overnight” variety. Instead, we must approach them holistically and thoughtfully with patience and faith.
Where antidepressant and benzodiazepine withdrawal are concerned, things such as carefully selected supplements and individually tailored diet manipulations can certainly help to manage symptoms, promote better health, and even speed some healing along, but there is so much more that goes into the healing process—so much more that goes into rebuilding our strength and actually healing from the changes that designer prescription drugs levy upon our body, mind, emotions, and self-image.
When we are trying like hell to survive antidepressant withdrawal and/or benzodiazepine withdrawal, we must work to heal the soul and to regain our voice and sense of humor: Those are parts of the healing process.
We must find a way to create and embrace a less stressful reality that values restoration, relaxation, and inner peace.
We must find a way to get our spiritual compass pointing back to a direction that makes God the center of everything we see and do.
We must make choices that put our health and happiness at the top of the priority list.
When we are trying like hell to survive SSRI withdrawal and/or benzodiazepine withdrawal, we must work to understand what our own individual version of well-being looks and smells and feels like, because healing and happiness are in many respects individual.
And as time moves forward—as we move out of acute withdrawal and continue to look for progress—we must become practiced at consistently making the choices and taking the actions that maintain that singular sense of well-being.
If you are one of the many people out there who is currently searching for information about antidepressant withdrawal and/or benzodiazepine withdrawal—if you are currently searching for a fix—I’m here to tell you that there is a solution. And it is at the same time simple and complex.
The solution to withdrawal is simple because it is accessible to everyone, but it is complex because it is always individual and multi-layered. In order to heal from prescription drug use and withdrawal, we must find ways to progress a little bit each week; we must find ways to get physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually healthier each month. And then we need to keep doing it.
And that way, even after the worst of the withdrawal symptoms fade away, the personal growth continues. And that is what makes a healthy life for anyone.
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