Ralph Waldo Emerson once said, "Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail."
These are words that have always resonated with me, even as a very young man. Sentiments that both helped and hindered me over the years, but it surely kept things interesting.
I've always held a kind of "jump in and learn how to swim" attitude. Again, something that's both helped and hurt me, but a good safe way of no getting conditioned. I was always worried about being conditioned, in any form of thought or perception. Because it can become a kind of limitation, a mind control. Therefore, I always began with good old fashion instinct, and then packed on the education as I went along. Otherwise, one can be foolish, and stubborn to a fault.
I say all of this because my journey off benzos to where I am now, some 10 short years removed, it feels quite short anyway, has been a constant seeking of my own path that has in many ways made my work unique, while also protecting me from some fundamental ways of viewing benzo damage and recovery. We've all seen it in all the forums. I suspect one day they will release their own Bible. The Benzo Bible! But of course, who's writing it? And why? That's another topic for another day.
To the point, there's this magnetism towards joining the crowd, going with the herd. Sometimes it's good, usually not so much.
Many of you reading this today, those that have watched my videos, listened to my lectures, perhaps joined my school or Facebook group, or even done one-on-one coaching with me, all likely are the type of person to think for yourself. To trust your own instincts. Hence, you're my kind of people.
Coach Powers, where the hell are you going with all of this? Well, I mean to say, I believe we are all on to something big here, a new way of viewing benzo withdrawal and recovery. A healthier and much more conducive to recovery perspective, might I add! We don't view benzos as this evil poison that a conspiracy of evil doctors prescribed to harm us. We understand the mental health communities are just not great. They need a hell of a lot of work. Doctor's are ignorant to benzos, and perhaps the entire model of their magical pill (chemical imbalance theory - since debunked) is just misguided. There's work here to be done, no one is arguing that. But we also realize we need not weaponize our anger and hurt over these dumb doctors! It's a sensible way to navigate our suffering and victimization. We are victims, that's true. However, we don't have to sail that flag if we do not want to. We have a choice. Carl Jung once said, "I'm not what happened to me, I'm what I choose to be." We are sensible enough to know, despite our suffering and intense chemically-induced fears, that recovery from benzos means actively engaging our disposition. Not laying and praying and waiting out the storm. We understand this approach usually brings more suffering. Still, the lay and pray model is paramount in most groups and even most coaches. "You just need to rest... have you thought about going vegan? Have you considered the carnivore diet? It's all probably histamines and GABA-a receptor damage... and the list goes on and on. As Geraldine Burns told me recently, "people will even ruminate and argue over what kind of toothpaste benzo injured people should use!" We hear this over and over, and while there may be some truth to all of it, together, under the wrong microscope, it becomes paralyzing. Additionally, paralyzing. As if benzo fear and symptoms weren't enough.
We are being taught to fear everything. Food. Weather. Our senses. Even hot water. You name it, it's probably on a damn list somewhere! The work I've been doing for years now in the benzo community has been focused on systematically removing fear, paranoia, rumination, obsessiveness, and any fixed ideas that restrict us. And what's most beautiful to me is that so many of you have joined me in this cause. We have put together a small but fierce army. And the word is beginning to spread! People who were paralyzed by agoraphobia, but was taught that it's just benzo damage several years removed from the drug.... are suddenly pushing back against their conditioned limbic system, retraining it to perceive life without so much fear, and they're getting better. My friends, people are getting better. They've learned that mental illness can become a circular problem, a learned condition in the brain, an old neural automatic pathway they've been stuck in, and they're learning how to change that. More importantly, that we CAN change that. Lots of people in the groups say you can't. Therapy doesn't work. Effort doesn't work. Avoidance is key. Avoid. Avoid. Avoid. They'll have you walking around your house wearing sunglasses, ear plugs, and mittens. Total sensitization. And this is by NO MEANS to demonize anyone or any group. In fact, it's not about anyone. It's about the lies the limbic tells us. It's about the way it can hijack our thinking and perception, make us super paranoid, reactive, symptomatic. If you truly understand the nature of what happens during benzo withdrawal, you cannot be upset with anyone for how they feel or how they perceive what they are going through.
I, too, felt the same way, did the same things.
But like all trauma survivors, there's a subtle distortion in our perception. Rumination and fear hijacks our response style. This is well studied and documented.
Some of you reading this may not yet understand, but keep walking with me and I believe you will. Others, you hear me loud and clear. And others, well you may just disagree. That's okay, too. I recently opened my benzo school and it was quite beautiful seeing everyone turn on to the new ways of thinking about their injury and recovery. To see them fostering hope, strength, courage, determination, grit... to come together and be supportive to others, and lift others up. It's just beautiful. Truly beautiful. It moves me. And it's finally a validation that we are doing good work. I believe we may just be changing the face of benzo recovery... Cheers,
An Old Benzo Warrior