My name is Brian, 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 don’t give up.
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 ‘sensitive’ one. Finally in my early 20s I saw a psychiatrist who immediately prescribed an anti-depressant. When this made me feel awful, the dose was tripled and an anti-psychotic was added. Soon I was in a bad way – still holding on to my full time job, panicked because I just wanted my life back.
Now, enter Xanax (alprazolam). One pill was all it took. I still remember taking it for the first time. Swallow, 20 minutes went past, relax, another 20 and I felt better than I had in my whole life! Not just better, I was Super Me – all the troubles of the last 20 years had been wiped. I was now confident, happy, enthusiastic. One daily pill quickly became two, two became three and three plus, always chasing that initial feeling - and my doctors were happy to prescribe. This went on for years. Eventually I stopped taking the other medications and just took Xanax, but by now at 30 times the original dose. I was a train wreck. I didn’t understand addiction and didn’t know what I had become.
Until one day.
I went to work as usual. I hadn’t had my morning Xanax but thought, I’ll just get it when I get to work. The chemist wasn’t open yet so I got busy at work. The day was speeding by when around mid-afternoon I realised that I couldn’t get out of my chair and my brain was shutting down. I thought I must have a really bad virus and I just managed to struggle home. Then 20 minutes after taking a Xanax all my debilitating symptoms magically disappeared.
I knew there was a problem.
I did my research, found the Ashton Manual and a support group, and quickly started my taper. In hindsight, too quickly and without the right help. Hallucinations, paranoia, depression, anxiety – I think I had every symptom on the list. It was a very long journey for me: four years until I had recovered enough to return to work and another six years before I thought of myself as fully recovered.
But I did recover. Now I run my own successful business, exercise every day, can talk to a room full of 100 people with confidence. I look at my life in ways I never thought possible and I believe I have an understanding of things that I never would have had without going through such hell.
Please don’t give up. Recovery is waiting. It’s a journey, life, everything.