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My advice to you...

As a Benzo coach, I wear many hats. For example, I'm a counselor, a teacher, an empathic support system, and a benzo advocate. Sometimes, I'm a mathematician. Sometimes, I'm a family therapist. And sometimes, it feels as though I'm in a tug-of-war match with my students, caught between the truth and the lies that I know fear is telling them.

The fear is damn convincing. It could tell you that your head is about to explode, and you'd believe it.

The trouble is that so much of the benzo community is stuck in the dogma of chemically induced fear. Too much of the inmate mentality is running the ideology. I think it was important and quite relevant that someone like me come around and question the institution's authority and shake up the foundation. Indeed, I've been doing this my entire life. Aside from being a doctor of clinical psychology, I've long been an artist and writer. And if you know anything about those types of people, then you know they're outside the box. They often don't assimilate fully to traditional models, valuing a new creative model when possible, though not at the risk of the truth. The truth is always paramount.

The very thing that made me loved by some has made me despised by others.

"Shut him up," they say! "He means well, but he doesn't really understand real drug damage."

"He puts too much on the limbic system and not enough on the drug damage..." Or, my personal favorite, "If you want a better understanding of bears, this is your guy!"

That one is actually pretty accurate. Of course, I disagree. But there's good news. No matter how much of your personal story is benzo damaged, antidepressant damage, pre-existing conditions, or manifested conditions, treatment is the same! Embrace the good news. There is a Northstar. It may not answer all your questions or solve all your problems, but it will help you get back off the ground and walking in the right direction.

The truth is, everyone's story is unique and sometimes a riddle. We are complex creatures with many layers to us and our stories. Moreover, benzo recovery is subjective. What works for one may not work for the next.

Another truth is that no one can quantify our status. For example, no one can say that your suffering is 50% benzos and 50% pre-existing conditions, or 10% external factors and 90% psyche-meds.

No one knows. And you don't know either. Everyone can only speculate.

Not one single coach knows what's best for you. They cannot tell you what to eat, whether or not you should take supplements, how to taper, what meds you should take, or what complex life choices to make. Perhaps there are others that will offer such advice. Personally, I'm not of that ilk. I believe a leader doesn't tell another how to live and what choices to make. Rather, one thrives to help that person make informed decisions for themselves, becasue after all, they alone have to live with the consequences of those decisions.

And let's be honest, another part of the challenge internally is that we are all shopping for the easiest way out. We want someone to validate not only our suffering but also our ego. We want them to tell us what we want to hear. This is how people end up therapist shopping by going through a series of auditions until they find the one that "gets" them.

I think this is a foolish approach. If I'm having brain surgery, I want the best surgeon. Not the one I could see myself going fishing or playing golf with. If the best surgeon is someone I also happen to really like, well, even better, but that shouldn't alone be the determining factor.

Be aware of therapists (and Benzo coaches) who go out of their way to agree with or love-bomb you, as that can be a self-marketing strategy, consciously or unconsciously. It also doesn't help as much as you think. In fact, it can strengthen a victim mentality and keep your limbic system locked in fight-or-flight.

Give some of this a bit of thought. Be reflective. Growth is a car traveling on the highway of self-reflection. Know thy self, for self-knowledge is the most powerful of all knowledge. Only when we know ourselves can we truly know others.

So, is it benzos? Is it a pre-existing condition? Is it something new that manifested during your prolonged acute period of suffering? It doesn't matter. It could be a touch of all three. The road to recovery is the same. There may be other side roads that lead to particular things that may also assist you on your journey, but for the most part, the way remains the same.

Still, so many people want to argue whether it's psyche-med damage or whether they have health anxiety or not. It gets exhausting sometimes. These days, I don't try to convince people as much. I've given my professional opinion, and that's enough. That said, it becomes problematic when the individual feels they know for sure they're different and, therefore, will not fully commit to the recovery program.

Yes. It's true. Your case is different, just like everyone else.

Trust is hard. I get it. And we need to be very careful with who we trust.

We have an entire herd of people saying one thing, and then there are people like me, the minority, saying something quite different. Although to be fair, it is not all that different. I'd say my impression is just more encompassing.

It's true. Psyche meds can be unbelievably damaging. I should know. They almost killed me. It took me years to heal. But I also know that life is complex, as is mental illness, and nothing ever boils down to one single grand, all-encompassing explanation. We are more complicated. It's family, it's personality, it's biology, it's experiences, psyche meds, limbic system, faith, work ethic, attitude, mindset, knowledge, and even heart. Especially heart.

I'm all about treating the WHOLE person.

Why just survive benzos? Why not take advantage of this profound, life-changing, transformative vehicle before you? We all walk through the fire, that is true, but how do you want to be remembered? What is it worth to you? Don't you want a change? For so many of us, that lack of change and rigidity is at least partly responsible for our disposition.

I've got a great team around me. Everyone understands the assignment very well, and it's a beautiful thing. It becomes one giant harmonious reverberation of focus, intention, and growth.

It's a tough life, and it's getting tougher. Love, compassion, and serenity are the true paths forward. Healing requires a lifestyle change—it requires us to change.

Some resist this, and that's their choice. I love those people, too, and I hope they find what they're after in the way they're after it. For the rest of us, the way out is through. The way out isn't to get lost in the rumination and the unanswerable questions and riddles fear creates for us. The way out isn't finding people who will coddle us, offering relentless reassurance while passively reinforcing our deepest fears.

I'll leave you with this... it's all going to be okay if you can surrender and separate yourselves from fear. In your darkest hour, choose love. That much I can promise you.

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