Adrian, 33 year old Male, Australia.
My name is Adrian, and this is my recovery story.
I want to begin by saying that this IS a recovery story, and for all of you out there who are still suffering to varying degrees, please, donít give up.
I wanted to share my story to provide hope, because I share a common thread which each and every one of you, and stories like these were the difference to me on days when I thought I was completely lost, and would stay lost.
I have been an anxiety and depression sufferer for as long as I can remember, bullied as a child, through my teens, always being the Ďsensitiveí one.
Hitting my hormonal late teens, many elements came together to create a final boiling point.
I started experiencing feelings of unreality (DP or DR as many of you know it as) so a trip to a local psychiatrist, was, at the time, the best point of call for help. I couldnít afford to pay her, so she started seeing me at no charge. I was immediately prescribed an anti-depressant, I remember taking it for the first time and experiencing, what I know now, to be side effects of a drug entering my system.
I called my psychiatrist and my local doctor in a panic, feeling awful, and my dosage immediately increased to 3 times the amount, and an anti-psychotic thrown in for good measure.
This was now a couple of months down the track, and I was now a depressed zombie, so drugged up and feelings all over the place. My psychiatrists enthusiasm quickly waned, after all, she wasnít being paid.
I was in a bad way, 17 years old, still holding on to my full time job, panicked because I just wanted my life back.
Now, enter the Xanax, 1 pill, just one was all it took, I still remember taking it for the first time, swallow, 20 minutes went past, relax, another 20, I felt better than I had in my whole life! Not just better, I was a super me, all the troubles of the last 17 years had been wiped, I was now confident, happy, enthusiastic.
1 daily pill quickly became 2, 2 became 3, then another added in when I needed. I was always chasing that initial feeling, and my doctors were happy to prescribe, never questioning the speed of the bottle disappearing.
2 years later I was alpha me, I was taking copious amounts of Xanax, I was reckless, rude, aggressive, self destructive. I saw shrink after shrink, by this time, I had been prescribed every drug in the book (and every type and class), It even got to the point were I would research the drugs myself and tell them what I wanted and it would be given to me. Not one of my psychiatrists questioned the Xanax, that it could be now causing my problems and that I had been on it far too long.
At around year 4, I had stopped taking any other drug but the Xanax, and I had stopped seeing any psychiatrist, just a monthly phone call to my GP for a Xanax prescription (which came with a few repeats so I didnít run out).
By the end, I had been taking Xanax for around 7 years, I was going through a bottle a week, the little 0.5mg tablet that I took initially had turned into a frightening 15mg per day. I was a train wreck, but because I had a full time job, I was NEVER questioned or refused a prescription.
I didnít understand addiction, and I didnít know what I had become, I was completely unaware of my situation, I lived in a Xanax world.
Until one day.
I went to work as normal this day, I hadnít had my morning Xanax, but thought, Iíll just get it when I get to work. The chemist was still shut and I was busy at work, the day was speeding by. Around mid afternoon I couldnít get off the chair, my brain was shutting down, I thought I had a really bad virus. I managed to get home and to the chemist for my prescription, swallow, 20 minutes later, no symptoms at all, debilitating sickness magically gone, I knew there was a problem.
I did my research, found my internet groups, the Ashton manual, and a local drug and alcohol support group (The Buoyancy foundation in Melbourne were truly amazing, natural therapy based and provided most of my support) Quit my job, moved back in with my parents and quickly started my taper. I went from 15mg per day to 0.5mg in about a month, and yes I was sick, but nothing compared to the sickness I felt when I took my last pill.
Hallucinations, paranoia, major depression, anxiety, tunnel vision, no energy, constant suicidal thoughts, every symptom on the list I had in full force.
I was 24 years old and on a disability pension, I couldnít even walk 5 minutes to the local shops without having to sit down.
No medical professional believed that after a month that I could be still suffering withdrawal, I had to hold on to my own beliefs and intuition, the support I had from the internet benzo groups and the Buoyancy Foundation was amazing, I kept going.
It took 2 years for the paranoia to stop, 3 years before I would take my beanie off (I would wear a beanie, even in summer on a 40 degree day because I thought everyone was looking at me thinking I was hideously ugly) and 4 years before I felt like I had recovered enough to return to work.
My moments of recovery would happen over night (which also no one believed). I would get severe headaches the day before, then I would wake up and a symptom would be gone. This would happen once a month, then every couple of months, getting further and further apart as I got better and made progress.
After 4 years, I considered myself 85% healed, and thatís where I thought it would stop, I hit a plateau for a long time, maybe years. I opened up my own business, I went back to work 6 days a week, in hindsight I probably wasnít quite ready but when are you ever?
6 years has now passed, itís been almost 9 years since I have taken Xanax. I have fully recovered. I still run my own successful business, I exercise every day, I am an educator, I can talk to a room full of 100 or more people with confidence. I tell you this for no other reason than that there was a time, not long ago at all, were I thought it would never be possible.
**HERE IS WHAT HELPED ME (for the people who donít want to read my very long story, and I donít blame you, there were moments for years when I couldnít even read without falling asleep)
*Diet is everything - I considered my self 85% healed until I started intermittently fasting, this has been the biggest help out of anything. I always had a great diet during my recovery, and that helped immensely, but until I found my way too intermittent fasting, I was still depressed and anxious and had no energy.
I eat healthily for 8 hours a day, then I fast for the other 16. After 3 days of doing this I was completely symptom free, I believe that fasting gives your body a chance to heal and pay attention to the things that it has been neglecting for years, because all of our energy goes to digesting food! 95% of it! My mind is clear, no more depression, I am anxiety free, and I have a lot of energy.
*My recovery was at a stand still for a few years, no changes, then fasting changed everything, and quickly!!
*Exercise is essential; you donít have to become an Olympian! Just get your heart rate up for a short period every day.
*Meditation, 20 minutes a day of just sitting and letting my thoughts flow saved me and I believe, led me to find the things that helped me recover. You donít have to become a Buddhist! Just sit, nothing more.
*Water, water, water, enough said.
Please donít give up, I didnít, recovery is waiting. Itís a journey, life, everything. I look at my life in ways I never thought possible, I believe I have an understanding of things that I would never have had without going through such hell.
It has made me strong, I have gained just as much as it has taken, it is a balanced equation.
Disclaimer: The information contained in this website was not compiled by a doctor or anyone with medical training. The advice contained herein should not be substituted for the advice of a physician who is well-informed in the subject matter discussed. Before making any decisions about your health or treatment you should always confer with your physician and it is always assumed that you will do so.
Last updated 22 July 2015