When talking to an older friend recently about benzodiazepines, he asked if I remembered Quaaludes, a popular sedative-hypnotic that was all the rage in the ’60’s and ’70’s. “We called them ‘Stumble Biscuits,'” he told me, “because you’d stumble down the street and hit one car and then stumble over and hit something else and it was just happy, goofy. Too bad they took them off the market. Those things were great.”
I was a bit stumped. Stumped by the Stumble Biscuit. Because America still has it’s own Stumble Biscuit and it’s unfortunately not happy, goofy. It numbs. It makes everything a slow hum, including the body. I’ve said this before. Benzodiazepines are all the rage in America and the UK and nobody’s stumbling happy. We’re either just getting by or we’re going numb. This is not the world I want to live in and this is why I’m going through the firestorm to get off.
I realize the human desire to escape, to find goofy ecstasy, to find altered states. I know it. I’ve been there, spinning my brains out as a kid, running ultra-marathons to see what my body would do when my brain shut up, annihilating myself with alcohol as an adolescent to try to find spirit … somewhere.
Stanislav Grof, a Czechoslovakian psychiatrist, saw this desire to find altered states as a good thing. He saw it as one of the ways in which we try to move through this human life with beauty and grace and joy. He started his career by studying LSD. Conducted
over 4,000 sessions of psychedelic therapy and came to the conclusion that ecstasy, the stumble biscuit ecstasy could be found without little white pills (or little squares of paper). He spent years developing something called Holotropic Breathwork, a non-chemical process that offers healing, transcendent and often ecstatic journeys into non-ordinary reality.
And still, we love the little pills. It’s systemic. The fabric of the medical system is built on speed and chemistry. And money. And it’s killing us. This is my soapbox. I would rant more, but the withdrawal symptoms I’m experiencing cause extreme fatigue, nausea, ranting. Last night I woke with seizures in my neck. I couldn’t move. It felt like I’d been throttled. After what felt like hours, they subsided. I fell asleep again. This morning, my neck is fine. Just a little benzo trip as you’re going off. Things get funky. They seize, go numb, set fire, trip and slide. The brain is trying to find itself again. Until then, messages get lost, get sent to the wrong place, the body goes ballistic.
So, the last few days: rage. Benzo dogs wanting to rip everything to shreds. Can I hold them in check without hurting anyone? Can I go quiet as a mountain and just watch the winds rip around me?
A friend showed me a picture recently of her and her husband when they were in Venice, long ago. The picture was beautiful. They glowed with love. They were standing on a bridge over one of the waterways that passes through Venice. Behind them was a stunning limestone bridge that had windows with stone bars. It connected two buildings over the waterway. It was the famous Bridge of Sighs, passing over the Rio di Palazzo. The bridge connects the old prisons to the interrogation rooms in the Doge’s Palace. It was the last view of Venice that convicts saw before they faced their life in a dungeon.
This is where I feel I live right now. Or, perhaps I’ve already passed through and am in the benzo prison. But I plan to get out. I want to see the water again, the beauty, the stumble biscuit ecstasy without the American dream pill. And I will. Even if I have to walk deep into the dungeon first, I will. Even if the benzo dogs rip me to shreds, I will. I will not let beauty dwindle like lights clicking out in the brain. I believe that beauty is right in front of me, obscured by chemical bars, but there nonetheless, waiting for my eyes to clear. Like the mountain – there – run over by clouds, but there, waiting.