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How I Overcame My Benzodiazepine Addiction Without Medication or Therapy

by Alyssa "Lefty" P. 6 months ago in self help · updated 6 months ago
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A Reflection and Informational Article

Transformed by the Renewal of my mind.

*This article is a reflection of my own experiences, values and opinions. It is intended to be used as a resource and not as a replacement for mental health treatment or the diagnosis of a mental illness by a licensed medical professional. Please do not self-diagnose or engage in any self-therapeutic activities before consulting a physician first. If you or anyone you know if currently seeking help for anxiety, depression, or addiction, please call the National SAMHSA hotline at 1877-726-4727 or the National Suicide Prevention hotline at 1800-273-8255 for immediate help. Thank you.

Dedicated to my loved one, AT. Keep fighting the fight. I love you.

Did you know that September 2021 was National Recovery Month? I didn’t either. I actually found this information when trying to refresh my memory on what month National Mental Health Awareness falls under, in hopes of publishing this article for you to dive into during a time that aligns with other pieces of valuable information you are learning every day about your mental health. But that is the beauty of this journey - we can pick up any bit of valuable information that assists us in bettering ourselves mentally, physically, and spiritually at anytime, and it will be valuable nonetheless. In the midst of sharing my story, and I am proud to say that today I celebrate my sixth month of sobriety.

I wrote this article for you to share with you my long, heart-wrenching, empowering journey towards independence and sobriety from anti-anxiety pills, in hopes that you, too, will be inspired to try alternative forms of self-healing in your mental health journey. Or maybe, you feel that you are at a place in your life where you don’t need this kind of support for yourself, but you are seeking to learn this information in hopes that you can share it with someone else. Nonetheless, I hope you find both my story and the information I share in this article empowering and insightful. Here, I will take you on a journey through my experience with benzo addiction, my relapse period, and my road to recovery, highlighting the clear steps I took to take ownership of my own healing process. If this text moves you and you are interested in discussing anything I have mentioned below, please feel free to email me at [email protected] or shoot me a direct message on my Instagram page at @Alyssaleftyp. Many blessings.

I. Defining Addiction - How do I know I have One?

We all have addictions, especially to trivial things in our lives in this technological age such as social media, our phones, and the television. Addiction looks like so many different patterns of behavior, including gambling, shopping, plastic surgery or tattooing, binge eating, drugs (including cannabis), alcohol, caffeine, or tobacco. Addiction can even consume someone’s life in the form of sexual intimacy (for example, overusing pornography or excessive masturbation, or engaging in risky, hypersexual behavior). Some addictions may be habits that don’t concern us or actually might benefit us, like engaging in exercise multiple times a day, for example. But how do we know when an addiction problem or a habitual dependency becomes a harmful threat to our physical and emotional well-being?

The most important thing to remember is that, in order to identify an addiction or a dependency problem, it’s important to identify the concerning behaviors that come with using or abusing a substance or a habit. Such behaviors look like: Extreme physical and emotional dependency on the substance or habit; lack of impulse control (the inability to fight temptation to use the substance or engage in the activity); lying, stealing, or manipulating others in order to obtain the substance or engage in the activity; and obsessing over the substance or the activity. The greatest identifiers for me in overcoming my addiction to benzodiazepines was my growing physical dependency on using it, my inability to maintain healthy relationships with my dearest loved ones due to my outbursts when withdrawing from it, and my inability to fight the urge to take it for longer than one week at a time for my panic attacks. This self-awareness did not come overnight for me, however. It took me years to get to where I am today, which is a healthy place where I feel no sense of addiction to or dependency on a substance, a habit, or a human being. I had to engage in professional therapy, try series of medications that at one point helped me, and I developed strong, groundbreaking habits that allowed me to take the final step in my recovery process on my own. Let me first take you on a journey through my battle with anxiety, depression and benzo dependency so you can understand the journey I embarked on which led me to finding methods of self-healing and recovery that worked for me. If you want to skip my story and go straight to the solutions I’ve built for myself, by all means, do so. I split this article into four major sections for your usage.

II. Introducing My Journey with Anxiety and Addiction

I had my first panic attack at 20 years old. I remember it as clear as day: My family and I were driving past a neighborhood in East Harlem that sent a bodily reaction straight from my stomach to my brain, bringing me back to a place in my life when I experienced a traumatic event of both physical and sexual assault. That year was extremely trying for me; I went from leaving an abusive intimate partner, to becoming a survivor of date rape, done by someone my dad and I genuinely trusted.

I remember that panic episode like it were yesterday. I was in the back seat of my mother’s Nissan Pathfinder when my hands began to tingle, my eyes began to twitch and I felt like someone placed a brick on my chest. My heart started racing. I asked my mother to pull over to the side of the road, where I got out the car and my father followed. It wasn’t until the tears started pouring down my face that I was able to catch my breath.

When I returned that Fall to college from my Summer Break, the panic attacks became more frequent, which led me to spiral into a deep depression that I felt like I could not get myself out of. I was so afraid of my own addictive habits (I had already foreshadowed a future addiction problem for myself with my hypersexual behavior in my late teen years) and my self-harming thoughts that I vividly remember flushing all of my over-the-counter Tylenol and Benadryl pills down the toilet in my University Village apartment. At that point, I feared I would “lose it” far enough to take them all at once.

Because I was brave enough to identify that I had become ill with anxiety, panic and depression, I sought professional help from a physician at my college’s Student Health Services. I sought treatment & she started me on 50 Mg of Zoloft for the depression and panic symptoms. I was then referred to one of the university’s psychologists. Rebecca, my new counselor, was heaven sent. She gave me a safe space to express my regular stressors, my feelings of loneliness and missing my family at home, and the dreams and goals that I was still trying to hash out in my mind, deciding on if I should continue to pursue a career in Law or if I should hone in on the other passions I left sitting in my heart and brain. I had to stop seeing her because she charged per session after a certain amount of free sessions, and I did not want to burden my parents with this. (My father, may he Rest in Peace, was heartbroken when he found out I was battling depression and was taking medication, and I felt that I couldn’t put any more stress on him after I shared with him that news.) I took it upon myself to discontinue therapy, continue to see my physician for medication management (she eventually put me up to 75 Mg of Zoloft where I stayed for a couple of years) and pick up various healthy habits that kept me motivated to get out of bed each day and make it to class on time. Not to mention, the panic attacks became lesser and eventually stopped for the time being. I was journaling regularly, engaging in goal setting self-reflection activities, doing yoga and meditation classes, and even attending church and engaging in worship twice a day. By the end of that year, I was feeling ten times better.

Then came the news that changed my entire life. My 21st birthday came on March 27th 2014. It was 12:19 am and I was drunk off of a bottle of Veuve Clicquot that my boyfriend at the time bought me to enjoy in tandem with the dinner he cooked me, and I noticed my family hadn’t called me on FaceTime. Tipsy (yes, I was drinking while on medication and I strongly encourage you to NOT do the same), I called my mother and noticed an ambulance and Emergency sign in her background. I cried myself to sleep last night aside my ex-boyfriend, only to find out that weekend that I visited home that my father was diagnosed with Stage IV Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer and was given a limited time to survive. When I heard it from his mouth myself, I broke into a terrible nervous breakdown that felt like the worst panic attack I ever had. While hugging me, my dad noticed that I was hyperventilating and he offered me 0.5 mg of Xanax he was prescribed for anxiety and panic attacks. This calmed me down in a few minutes, and I didn’t realize at the time that I would eventually become hooked on these tiny little pills that brought my raging heart rate down exponentially in a matter of five to ten minutes. I went back upstate to school after that weekend, and the panic attacks started coming right back to me. Surprisingly, the suicidal thoughts and feelings of depression left my mind and body, even with my dad’s diagnosis, but I couldn’t shake my irrational fears of getting sick and dying or feeling incredibly overwhelmed every time somebody asked about my father. This would eventually be the primary source of my growing dependency on the pills.

I graduated from college in 2015 and moved back home to be close to my family so that I could start my career and simultaneously offer my financial and emotional/spiritual support to all three of my most important loved ones. Seeing my father attend treatment weekly and being around extended family members who constantly talked about his cancer really did not sit well with me. To avoid these panic attacks from becoming damaging, I would ask for a Xanax here-and-there from my father, and even though he was upset about it, he would sneak one over to me once in a while. At one point, he told me “Mo’, I can’t keep doing this, you need to see a therapist.” I ignored him. I figured it was OK that I was taking it because my dad, the one man I trusted more than anything in this world, was giving them to me. Until this day, I will never blame him for my growing dependency and addiction. I had addictive behaviors that my parents never knew about since I was 16 years old. As open as I was with them, and they with me, there was so much I held back from them, and this issue was one of them. So, when he stopped handing them to me, I went behind my father’s back and into our medicine cabinet to steal 0.5’s, 1’s and even 0.25 mg tablets. I would take as many as I felt like I needed on the day-to-day, depending on how severe my attacks were. I remember I even had attacks while I was in my first year teaching - no one, I mean NO ONE caught on to my behavior. It wasn’t until I fought with my mom on 4th of July around 2016 to give me a Xanax at my cousin’s barbecue because I felt like my chest was too “tight” and I couldn’t breathe. I could feel my heart racing again with overwhelming feelings of panic that seemingly came out of nowhere. She stopped and looked at me with the most serious face - and that was when I knew it was back to the medical professionals I go.

That same year, I saw a psychiatrist for the first time. Not a physician, a physician’s assistant, a nurse or a medical doctor: a psychiatrist. I remember everything about this session - we only had one. This was the first time I admitted to anyone, including myself, that I had an addiction problem. When I explained to him my habits, he without hesitation replied that if I don’t stop my use of the Xanax at that very point in time, I would become “worse than a heroin addict.” Though I thought this comparison was absolutely ridiculous, his trick to scare me straight worked. I cut the Xans cold turkey and went through a two-week withdrawal period. He increased my Zoloft dosage to 200 mg, the maximum amount for somebody my size. This helped with my panic. After two weeks of cold sweats, sleepless nights, and barely eating one meal a day, losing 10 pounds, I felt stronger, clearer, and on the road to serious recovery.

I was clean from benzos for about three/four years before I started using again. Within that time period, my medical professionals took me off Zoloft and tried me on other SSRIs for the panic and recurring feelings of depression until I felt that Celexa suited me. I used it for about a year and a half (I was 25-26 years old at the time) and then I decided to stop on my own, with the discretion of my physician.

Fast forward into time: it is now October 2021. My father’s cancer became terminal. The anger around this news struck me like a serious, old-school butt-whooping & re-instilled the fear of death in my heart that I couldn’t shake. Then followed the emotional outbursts, the uncontrollable panic attacks, and the mood swings. Around this time, the urge to use benzos came back for me for the first time in years.

I started stealing the stash of Klonopins from the same medicine cabinet. I was taking them only in times of panic. I then began using every day when my last partner and I began to argue about everything under the sun. I can’t forget the most vivid memory I have of popping almost 2 mg of Klonopin at once before he came to pick me up and bring me back with him to his house. I did this because I remember being so irate with him during other car rides that I wanted a quick fix to keep my blood pressure down and avoid severe physical symptoms of anxiety and panic. 2mg was the most amount of benzo medication I ever took at once since I took my first Xanax in 2014. It immediately made me feel emotionally numb and it brought my heart rate down very quickly so that my once pounding heart was not scaring me half-to-death. It was the morning after that night that I realized I wasn’t completely healed from my dependency on the pills. So, I sought psychiatric help and therapy for a second time.

The social worker I began seeing for therapy was very kind and motivating the first five months I worked with her. She listened to everything I had to say, and she even led guided meditation exercises with me. I then saw a psychiatrist that worked with her in the same agency. This psychiatrist first prescribed me 0.5mg Ativan to take as needed, to which I abused every day and took more than I was supposed to. When she realized that I was doing so, she stopped prescribing me the pills and strongly encouraged me to try various SSRIs and antidepressants for my panic disorder - she even tried to prescribe me hydroxyzine which made my chest feel incredibly heavy. I consulted my primary care physician and he tried me on various beta blockers to help slow down my heart rate, which made the panic worse for me in the middle of the night by slowing down my heart rate to a point where I felt I couldn’t breathe. Nothing was working for me. Everything I took was inducing panic. And I really, REALLY wanted to stop being dependent on the Ativans. It just reminded me of my Xanax and Klonopin addiction, not to mention I was fully aware they all fall under the same class of drug. What made it worse for me is that my therapist began repeating to me everything I already knew, suggesting to me I should journal, meditate and do deep breathing exercise, eating healthier, etc. Her and I went back-and-forth for about a month as she kept strongly encouraging me to “fight through the side effects” of SSRIs and start taking medications to help me fight my addictive behaviors and my feelings of panic, when I kept telling her that I believed what once worked for me at 20 years old was no longer effective and I needed a new approach. I then discontinued services with the entire agency, consulted my primary care physician and asked him to help me ween off of the Ativan so I can take my recovery into my own hands.

So, what do you do when therapy is not working for you? What other options do you have when you’re avoiding pharmaceutical medications?

As you can tell from sharing my story that I am not against medication as a form of treatment for anxiety and depression, but addiction is an entirely new beast that doesn’t always, in my humble opinion, need medication, no matter what the root cause is of the addiction problem. As you can see, what once worked for me in my college, young adults no longer served me at 28 years old. Taking medications with tons of side effects only induced my health-related anxiety and panic attacks I saw my father’s life decline and eventually dealt with his passing. With all of my experiences throughout the years, and years of research on alternative medicine and holistic healing, I began to follow ten major steps that made my rode to benzo addiction recovery an empowering journey. I have outlined them all for you below.

III. The Road to my Own Recovery in 10 Simple Steps

1. I weened off my pills until I was ready to stop, then I stopped

- Weening off of medication looks different for everybody. It takes some people longer to gradually taper down from a medication than others. I tapered down by going from 2 mg a day to 0.5 a day in a matter of six weeks, and then I stopped. Don’t get me wrong, tapering down from medication does NOT completely stop you from experiencing withdrawal symptoms. They are bound to happen. When they do come, just know that this is a sign that your body is building strength and its response to potentially harmful outside agents, similarly to the way your body reacts when you catch a virus. DO NOT PANIC during this time. Try steps 2 through 10 to help you overcome feelings of withdrawal and panic when you are ready to taper down from your medication of choice, and make sure you consult with a medical professional before doing so.

2. I Wrote. Every. Single. Day.

When I tell you I wrote every day, I wrote EVERY DAY. I bought at least one journal every two-three months and filled it out with daily affirmations, prompts that allowed me to positively frame my thought processes and reflect on my small gains and small successes, as well as my short-term goals; my long-term goals; and areas of growth that I still needed to work on; and I even wrote free-verse poetry, rhythmic poetry, and short stories from time-to-time to release any feelings and thoughts that were weighing heavily on me.

I first started writing daily reflections with prompts before I began writing three-to-five affirmations a day. These reflection prompts were written in blue ink in my journal and included phrases that I needed to complete in black ink. I would then re-read all of the prompts and complete the sentences. Some of these daily prompts included:

I. “Five reasons why I am proud of myself...”

II. “I love myself because...”

III. “Ten people I appreciate in my life right now...”

IV. “One short term goal...”

V. “One long term goal...”

When my father became terminally ill and when he eventually passed, I started a new prompt that was unique to helping me manage my intrusive thoughts around my grieving process. I started writing “I will always keep daddy in my heart by...” and filling out positive memories I had with him and me, along with different strategies I would start to do to keep him close to me, like speaking to him spiritually during my time of meditation, or lighting candles for him, or simply wearing his jewelry. Once this positive framing started helping me shift my thinking in a more productive way, I began to write affirming statements that I would read to myself every morning, and sometimes every night. Some of my favorite affirmations included:

I. I LOVE MYSELF

II. I ENJOY THIS DAY TO THE FULLEST

III. I AM PROUD OF MYSELF

IV. I AM BEAUTIFUL

V. I AM SUCCESSFUL

If you’re reading this, I’m sure you’ve probably heard much about affirmations from Instagram or other social media sites that mental health advocates use as platforms to spread knowledge and awareness about healing. But, when I tell you that affirmations work, they work. It is all about manifestation - the power of your words and how they affect the energy around you, as well as your mood and your feelings about yourself and others. I will expand on this further in #10, and I encourage you to write every single day, or as often as possible, during your healing process. Do not worry - even if you think you are a “bad writer,” I promise you that there is no such thing. Your ability to bring words to life is one of the most powerful things about you.

3. I cut things out of my diet that triggered anxiety and panic

Have you heard that scientifically proven concept that certain foods build inflammation in your body, and as a result, play an impact on your overall mood and thus your mental health? Well, whether you have or not, I can speak from experience when I say that there is great truth to this. I did my own research on which types of foods or which specific properties of certain foods cause the most inflammation in the body, which thus can create physical health problems like “leaky gut,” hypertension, or feelings of anxiety and depression, to name a few, and I began progressively cutting back on food that I felt affected me most. These included:

- Fast and overly processed foods! (Try cooking at home more often, I promise you, it helps you feel much better because you can literally see all that you’re putting into your body. Many fast foods contain excessive amounts of sugar, salt and preservatives to keep the food seemingly “fresher” for longer periods of time, and to keep the food tasting good for the mass public)

- Excess or added sugar

- Excess or added salt (Himalayan pink salt is a great substitute if you really like salty foods!)

- Pork and red meat (If you’re going to eat this, stick to vegetarian-fed meats and limit your intake weekly or monthly as often as you can)

- Caffeine (As you know, coffee and soda do wonders to your heart rate, which is no good for people with panic disorder and anxiety. If you’re really having a coffee craving, try decaf of black tea with plant-based milk! If you want soda, substitute it for flavored seltzer water. It beats soda any day!)

- All of my allergens: Wheat, soy, peanuts, tree nuts, and dairy/cow’s milk (If you’re like me and you have tons of food allergies, please ditch them. I know it’s so hard to do, believe me...I had nightmares about people eating bread in front of me before I gave up wheat/gluten cold turkey! But I promise you, it is SO worth it, and you will thank me later!)

4.I supplemented my diet with herbs and supplements that worked for me

I was hesitant to try different supplements at first, because taking these in the form of a pill would, at times, be triggering to my situation. The more research I did on different types of herbal aids that would help with the benzo withdrawal symptoms and my crippling anxiety and panic, the more confident in trying them out and seeing which ones worked for me. Please keep in mind that this is a trial-and-error period: It’s okay to try something that ends up making you feel not as good as you want to feel. If that’s the case, stop taking it, and do more research until you find supplements that work for you. Below, I’ll list for you supplements that worked for me, and the ones that did not:

Supplements that worked:

- Holy basil: This supplement worked for me to calm my central nervous system. It has been said that holy basil leaf can be effective in acting as an anti-anxiety and anti-depressant medication

- Black seed oil: Black seed oil is known to have a plethora of health benefits on the mind and the body. For me, it lowered my blood pressure, as my pressure used to rise and fall pretty quickly with panic attacks, and it also lowered inflammation in both my chest and other parts of my body

- *Pomegranate juice: Also great for regulating blood pressure, which can fluctuate when you have panic disorder

- Key Lime sea moss gel: Seamoss is good just about anything and everything. I just feel so much lighter when I take two tablespoons of this gel in the morning. It aids with suppressing inflammation in the body as well, and it provides you with natural energy.

- CBD Creams (without menthol or lidocaine): This topical treatment helped ease the muscle tension and pain in my body that came with panic attacks, anxiety attacks, and withdrawal symptoms in the beginning of my road to permanent sobriety

Supplements that didn’t sit well with me:

- Melatonin: Because I was chemically dependent on and addicted to medication that suppressed my central nervous system, the bounce back from any medication that lowered my heart rate and made me feel relaxed rather quickly was harsh. Melatonin would only put me to sleep for about thirty minutes to an hour, and then I would wake up in the middle of the night with heart palpitations and feelings of anxiety

- Magnesium tablets: I’ve been told magnesium works differently for everyone, and I found in my research that different forms of magnesium can be helpful for those who have both anxiety and depression issues. I, however, did not find this supplement helpful for my own case. It just gave me upset stomachs. If you’re interested in trying magnesium, I would recommend doing further research.

- Benadryl and PM/Bedtime pills: There isn’t much to say about this besides the simple fact that Benadryl works similarly in the body the way benzos do. It suppresses the nervous system rather quickly, causing the drowsiness and sleepyness side effects to leave rather quickly, leaving room for your body to feel more anxious and shaky than you did before you took it. If you are currently weening off or becoming clean from anti-anxiety medication, avoid Benadryl for at least the first three or four months after you stop taking your meds. The same advice is for PM pills as well, such as Tylenol PM, which contain the active ingredient Diphenhydramine that induces feelings of drowsiness and lethargy.

5. I used different forms of aromatherapy to calm my senses

I first began to use a diffuser which I turned on before I went to sleep. The calming lights from the diffuser machine helped me clear my mind, along with the refreshing scents of oils such as eucalyptus, geranium, and rosemary. (All very different scents, but believe me, they serve a purpose.) Essential oils come in a variety of different scents and some bottles serve different purposes - they even have them in the form of sprays. You can also add a few drops of your favorite oil into a warm bath with baking soda or Epsom salt to calm your nerves, and it will do wonders for you.

6. I showered in the dark & took cold showers in times of panic

I actually wrote an entire piece on this experience. You can find it at [link here] on my Vocal public profile. But, I do want to add that taking cold showers does help in times of panic. It cools the body down, which typically overheats when your heart rate exponentially increases, and it also provides your central nervous system with a “hard reset” and a good-type-of shock that will help you calm down once you’re out of the shower and you’re done shivering. :)

7.I spent time around loved ones, but also gave myself time to be alone

If you’re anything like me, then you absolutely hate being alone when you feel most crappy. Completely understandable. At the risk of potentially draining the energy of your loved ones, it is important that you surround yourself with nonjudgmental loved ones who will support you the most and lift you up during these times. Do not spend too much time alone, giving your mind time to race with millions of thoughts. If for what ever reason you cannot be around the people you love the most, reach out to them via text and call and let them know you need their love at the moment. I loved (and still do) being around my mother, my sister, and a select few of friends and extended family the most during my peak feelings of anxiety, panic and withdrawal. And, though I didn’t always feel the need to overshare what I was experiencing with these people, I had at least one person I could confide in to let them know everything I was feeling so that they can be of support to me. It’s okay to be vulnerable - it pays off in the end.

On the contrary, being able to stand tall and strongly on your own is necessary for your mental and spiritual growth, so find your “happy places” both inside and outside of your mind and set time alone for yourself as well. Throughout my healing process, I found my alone time most valuable when I was able to take trips to the beach, go food shopping, or stay at home and read, write, or watch some of my favorite re-runs of A Different World and other ‘90s sitcoms. Just always remember one thing: You are never truly alone when you have yourself. Hug yourself gently today. You rock.

8.I traveled to familiar places outside of my neighborhood

My deep feelings of panic and fear of letting others see my pain and suffering when I went outside were real and difficult to navigate at times. I, however, took “baby steps” to re-enter society, whether alone or with my loved ones, that allowed me to progressively felt safe where ever I went. The reason why I encourage you to do this out of your own neighborhood is so that you don’t run into the issue of hearing people you know well ask you questions about your experiences that you may not be ready or willing to discuss. Nonetheless, find places that you normally enjoy going to on your down-time, especially outdoor places when the weather permits. This will definitely help you to feel “normal” again, especially if you’re somewhat of an extrovert like me.

9. I read

Reading is an excellent distraction from the negative thoughts and feelings that may come with mental illness and addiction recovery. Aside from the spiritual and self-help books I read, I began reading Communion: The Search for Female Love by bell hooks. This was a fabulous read for me and I encourage both men and women of all sexual orientations and genders to read it. Even if you’re not a big fan of reading, it will never hurt to pick up a book, newspaper, or an online article/blog and exercise your brain in the healthiest way.

10. I learned that there’s life and death in the power of the tongue

My faith is and has always been a huge part of my identity. For the purposes of this publishing this article on my Vocal platform, I’ll do my best to stray away from using religious language so that this can be accessible to people of all walks of life, but what I really want to share with you is how important it is to be mindful of the words you both speak to yourself and to others. Your language is a huge part of manifesting the outcomes you want in your life. My late father said it best: “Stay true to yourself,”and in order to do this, you must call out what you want to be true, even if it is not yet your reality.

For example, in times when my withdrawal was the worst, and I was getting terrible panic attacks, the normal “anxiety hangover” would consume me. This included headaches, palpitations, muscle tension, and mood swings. I was taught by a very beautiful, powerful woman who helped me take care of my dad in his final days of hospice care that I have to call out my wellness when I am speaking, even if it meant I was talking to myself or just the universe. On days when I felt like my world was ending, I would literally tell myself aloud “I am strong, I am powerful, I feel great today.” And, there were times where I would reiterate that to myself over-and-over again until I finally started to see and feel that truth come to light. In short, choose positive, affirming words during your roughest times to communicate with both yourself, others, and whatever higher power you believe in. This part of your journey is essential to both your physical, mental, and spiritual healing.

IV. Where I Am Today

I don’t ever want to give you the impression that everything is perfect now that I’ve been six months clean of benzo medication. I still struggle with anxiety, CPTSD, and at times, panic. I also currently use a low dosage of blood pressure medication to help balance my pressure in times of panic, and it has helped me a lot. At the end of the day, I am still a great work in progress, and that is what is beautiful about my journey. I want to share my story with you because I understand the current world we live in right now is one that can be frightening, overwhelming, and, at times, sickening. But remember this, as cliche as it sounds: You are not alone. Your journey is not over. YOU WILL HEAL, GET BETTER, and look back on your lowest moments standing tall with pride at how far you’ve come. Sometimes it seems impossible, but I promise to you that it isn’t. You, too, have a story to tell. But before you pick up the pen and start writing, establish a healthy life routine for yourself that allows you to begin your healing journey when you are ready. I love you, I believe in you, and I hope you found power in my testimony. Thank you for taking this ride with me.

self help

About the author

Alyssa "Lefty" P.

28 year-old NuYoRican from Spanish Harlem who has a passion for writing, learning, achieving peace, faith, and empowering others. I've established a career as an educator and career counselor for over five years. Instagram: @alyssaleftyp

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