Wednesday, December 8, 2021

Comments by meghan

Showing 4 of 4 comments.

  • Thank you for your suggestion, but I’m still not able to care for my own basic needs, let alone those of another living creature. I’m still mostly bedridden due to extreme physical and neurological issues, and adding in any extra work for my husband (who is already overwhelmed by his caregiving responsibilities) is the opposite of what we need right now. Also, during the first 2 or 3 years of my recovery, having a pet would have been literally impossible, even if my husband had the extra resources to care for it. I was in such a severe state of exhaustion, sensory overload, derealization (etc, etc) that I simply could not have handled it at all… even the sight of a dog would have caused extreme pain and terror for me. If I’d been a single mother with a child, my child would have been taken from me. Of that I have zero doubt. I was so sick I could not have even lifted a spoon to feed a child… I could barely summon the energy to lift a fork to my own mouth (I mean that literally).

    That said, I have made improvements over time, and about a year ago a neighbor’s cat started showing up at our house. While this was neurologically difficult for me at first, I had finally reached a stage in my recovery where it was possible for me to handle it. So over time me and this cat slowly become friends, and now he often spends his days curled up next to me on the bed / sofa, which is really nice. I don’t think it helps my PTSD response or other symptoms (plus the cat makes me sneeze!) but given the fact that I’m rarely well enough to see anyone other than my husband, it’s nice to have another companion.

  • My withdrawal was / is so severe that it gave me PTSD. But how do you heal from PTSD when the “event” hasn’t ended yet? I feel like I survived the initial battle (acute withdrawal and the sheer horror and survival and inhumane torture of the first 2+ years off), but I’m still in the war. I’m 4.5 years off and still in daily physical, cognitive, and emotional pain (with outright disability in all 3), but my symptoms are generally more “stable” and “manageable” now (at least compared to the earlier years off.) And yet I find myself in intense fear of my own body and mind “attacking” me again, or of being sucked back into the abyss of those earlier years, even though I am slowly recovering.

    It’s also worth mentioning that my damaged, glutamate-storming brain and constant DP/DR alters my perception of everything, so that even POSITIVE memories of the past (which are now intensely vivid, as if they’re occurring right now, as if I have dementia) are tainted and darkened as if they were actually traumas instead. Everything is “too much” to handle, everything is overstimulating (as if I’m autistic now), everything is scary, unsettling, wrong / bad, like I’m on an acid trip that hasn’t ended, etc, etc – even GOOD things make my nervous system over-react with fear and pain.

    It isn’t *similar* to trauma, it *is* trauma! And don’t even get me started on not being believed by professionals, fearing all medicine, having most of my friends and family disappear, and losing my basic abilities, talents and independence – THOSE traumas I can almost handle. What I can’t handle is 4.5 years straight of extreme torture in my body, mind, and brain; of fearing my own self. Can someone please tell me: how am I supposed to heal from these PTSD like responses when the trauma hasn’t yet ended?

  • Richard,

    I never got the chance to reply to your question, but I just watched your testimony and came here to say that you did an excellent job clarifying the difference between iatrogenic dependency and addiction. My fears are assuaged, although (as predicted) the hearing’s media coverage once again succumbed to the only narrative they know: that of benzodiazepine abuse and addiction. We clearly have our work cut out for us. Thank you so much for your support and advocacy.

    Yours in fellowship,

  • “However, given the powerful forces in society who benefit from using psychiatric labels and also from the sale of massive amounts of psychiatric drugs, it is highly unlikely that a more narrow strategy of “going it alone” will be listened to or achieve the desired goals for those duly harmed.”

    And from a comment above:

    “I believe that if people are EVER going to understand (through education and political activism over a considerable period of time) the difference between “iatrogenic dependence” and “addiction” then they can ALSO understand that when it comes to benzos these issues are complicated and do intersect in many people’s lives. I don’t believe that totally separating them off advances your/our cause in the way you project it will.”

    I respectfully disagree.

    Currently, what little awareness there is of prescription drug harm is almost entirely seen through the lens of addiction. This is no accident. This story plays well in the media for a reason: it shifts the blame away from the structural conditions (many of which are perpetuated by the pharmaceutical industry) and onto the individual. The addiction narrative turns what is a social-structural problem of a profit-driven healthcare industry into something that appears instead to be a personal failing of “addicts and abusers.” It says to the casual media consumer, “prescription drugs and healthcare are fine, it’s the personal failures and problems of addicts that are to blame.”

    This pattern of shifting the blame away from structures and onto individuals is very common, from the welfare mom (who is poor because of her moral failings, not because of economic injustice) to the kid with ADD (who is medicated because something is wrong with his brain, and not because something is wrong with his hyper-competitive and standardized schooling). The iatrogenic narrative does the opposite of this, and shifts the blame and spotlight onto the structural issues themselves. Instead of blaming the victim, it blames the actual perpetrator. The iatrogenic narrative terrifies mainstream healthcare and the pharmaceutical industry, because it says that this can happen to anyone. This is the narrative that is so conspicuously lacking, and so desperately needed. Once this new story is finally recognized and acknowledged, the emperor will have lost his clothes. This will benefit us all – including addicts.

    Make no mistake, a unified front is the ultimate goal in facing these massively entrenched systems. The strongest forms of unity arise when those with very real differences come together in a common cause without negating their distinct narratives and perspectives. Both addicts and iatrogenically harmed individuals face a common structural failure and source of injustice, which impacts different groups differently, but all groups tragically. And precisely because it impacts so many different people in so many different ways, it serves to weave a radically diverse constituency together into an emergent (but not homogenized) unity. But this goal will take time to achieve.

    I believe we need to first be heard separately before we can be heard together, as little to no awareness or validation currently exists for iatrogenic benzodiazepine harm and dependence as separate from addiction. Without acknowledging our unique experience of iatrogenic dependency and bringing awareness (and a new language) of that experience to the public, medical professionals, and the media, I do not believe we will advance our cause at all. The fact of the matter is that abuse and addiction has been the sole narrative of benzodiazepine harm for decades, and very little has changed in public or professional perception and policy. Those who have been iatrogenically harmed by benzodiazepines have yet to be seen, heard, supported, or validated at all, and yet are being told that we must also continue to advocate for those who have very visibly dominated the public platform for the past 50 years. As someone who has been iatrogenically harmed from benzodiazepines and incorrectly treated as an addict, it’s incredibly frustrating to read this, however noble the intentions might be. At this point in time, we need a different story to emerge, and for different voices to be heard independent of those with addiction issues. Without this, I fear nothing will change for anyone.